Monday, April 30, 2012

NPR: From minister to atheist

I listened to an interesting story on NPR this morning called From minister to atheist. It’s a story of a female pastor coming out to her congregation. It’s not pretty. In few short days she goes from life-long pastor to a shunned member of her own community. Life can be different once one rejects the church. Especially when one is leading the faithful. 

I’ve thought about this a great deal in my own terms. I was an active and focused Christian back in my teens. Once I rejected belief, I walked away from all of my Christian friends. I had no other choice. They no longer wanted to talk to me. The discomfort was painful. I think about it all the time, even 30 years later. I’m sure Teresa MacBain is feeling it much deeper. She has more to lose.

Teresa did something very different than I did. She turned her back on her church and did so in a very public. Maybe she did it for drama or for the shock value, the story does not go into her motives for coming out the way she did. The atheist conference sure treated her like a rock star. I understand that. It takes guts to throw your career away. Her church would have viewed her public admission as a direct attack. They circled the wagons and shunned her. What did she expect? Christians do this by rote. It’s a community survival strategy.

I don’t think it would have played out much better is she had come out to her church. Except for that she would likely have been goose-stepped off the property. Churches are not inclusive when it comes to those who reject core beliefs.