She was never really Christian,
Any fool can plainly see—
Not a born-again believer
In the Holy Book, like me!…
She admits she had some questions;
She admits she had some doubts—
So it’s not a bit surprising
She and God are on the outs
She was never quite committed
To a life within the church;
If she’d found the truth already,
Why have any need to search?
I don’t trust this former preacher
And her story leaves me vexed—
You see, thinking is contagious
And I fear I could be next!
The Christian Post has a story on Teresa MacBain, the former Methodist pastor and newly named public relations director for American Atheists. The article itself is quite nice; it takes the time to explore her reasons for leaving her faith, and does not shy away from describing the reaction from her family, friends, and community.
“My husband and kids were fine, they knew that things had changed for me, but extended family, I lost those relationships. I lost all of my friendships except for one couple. I have one maybe from the church that I’m still in contact with, but initially they were all just very angry. They locked me out of the church and it took me some months to collect my belongings. It was a very difficult situation,” MacBain explained about reaction to her initial announcement.
There were those from the church who tried to reach out and speak to her, but those discussions did not go far.
“One pastor that was a former colleague of mine did reach out immediately and I went and sat down and talked to him. He discussed everything and let me share. It was kind of an intense conversation, but after that I haven’t heard from that person anymore. I’m not really sure, I guess he just wanted to find some answers,” she said.
The fun, of course, is in the comments. No True Scotsmen abound–this woman who spent two decades in the ministry was clearly not really a Christian.
There are two lessons here (well, there are probably many more, but anyway…) One is that some people will go to astonishing lengths to distance themselves, to protect themselves, from the possibility that this thing they believe in, that defines who they are, could conceivably disappear one day (seriously, take a look at the comments!). But another lesson is that not all people will do this. Ms. MacBain is an example.
I remember, back when I was a born-again Christian, my pastor actively encouraged us to doubt, to ask questions, to explore. His faith was unshakeable that any questions we could possibly ask would be answered in favor of his world view, which included an inerrant bible and a personal relationship with Jesus. Our pastor did not want us to believe simply because he told us to; he wanted us to believe because what we believed was the truth. And you cannot know something is true without testing it.
So, yeah, one of the big reasons I am an atheist is because my pastor had the faith not just to question his own belief, but to tell the members of his church to question as well. (Mind you, it took moving away from that part of the state, and eventually moving away from that state, to begin to get answers from a more knowledgeable place; for years, all questions were answered by experts who also were believers.)