Home > Philosophy of Religion, Theology > Clergy Project Goes Public

Clergy Project Goes Public

Today marks the Clergy Project going public. Sponsored in part by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, Dan Barker and other members facilitate the group, which offers an intellectual shelter for those members of the clergy in various organized religions who are now inclined toward atheism, or at least seek to cut their ties with religion in some sense. Some have already left the ministry, but many are trapped; with families to support, bills to pay, and no marketable skills or means to gain them, the ministry has proven incredibly difficult to abandon for those who are so inclined. Many, too, risk losing their families, friends, homes, and their only stable source of income.

The Clergy Project seeks to make public the difficulties these individuals face, and to open up what began as a private, invitation-only support group to a wider audience in the hope of reaching those who may have thought they were alone in their intellectual growth. I have the great fortune of knowing an active member in the Clergy Project, and we had discussed the Project prior to it opening up to the public (though there have been several small news reports surrounding it in the past). We spoke one evening about  the problem many Clergy Project members face with respect to personal integrity. Many must hide their true beliefs from their families or risk alientating themselves from their loved ones, and must often preach or counsel based on beliefs they no longer hold. This becomes especially poignant when no end is in sight, and no like-minded individuals are available for support. How can you respect yourself if you profess to believe that which you do not believe, and must live in accordance with principles you no longer adhere to? In this way the Clergy Project offers a glimmer of hope for the spiritually marooned. This is no guerilla war against evangelical Christianity – it is a Humanist project to the core if ever there was one. The Clergy Project is not so much about faith as it is about humanity, not so much about religion as it is about people.

I encourage all those who are interested to visit the website, read some of the testimonials, and, most of all, spread the word. While the project may reinforce the beliefs of the non-religious, it does all the more for those behind the pulpit or in the pew who have neither the means nor the momentum to leave.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Daniel Dennett is not a sponsor of the site, but was involved in the initial study that resulted in the formation of the group.*
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