This quite poignant article looks at the anguish of clergy who realize that they either no longer believe in a god or have serious doubts. The problems seem to start during the seminary years and appears to be quite widespread which makes one wonder how many clergy are actually closeted non-believers.
In interviews with 32 men and women from Pentecostal, evangelical, mainline Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Mormon backgrounds, they discovered that many, like Dunphy, started wrestling with doubt in seminary.
Most said they kept quiet out of fear of disappointing others or because they didn’t have anyone to talk things through with.
“I wanted to believe in God; all those years, I wanted to,” one former Presbyterian clergywoman says in the book of her time in seminary. “I wasn’t really sure if I did or not, but I wanted to.”
And once the seminarians were leading congregations, they reported even more isolation and frustration.
“You do a lot of crying,” a Mormon bishop says in the book. “You try to talk to your wife about it, but she’s still pretty orthodox, so it’s hard on her. You’re alone. You’ve got no one to talk to because you’re a bishop … So it tears you apart.”
If there is one job where you need to be totally in sync with your institution’s mission, it has be to that of religious clergy. Having to tell people all the time to believe in something that you yourself think is false could well lead to at least misery, if not depression and eventual breakdown.