The Clergy Project
In the video below you will find Richard Dawkins speaking with the former pastor Michael Aus, who, rather bravely, came out as an unbeliever at the Reason Rally.
His transition has been facilitated with the help of The Clergy Project (the website, and project of which you can check out by clicking on the title of this blog). The Clergy Project owes its existence, in ways both large and small, to Dan Dennett and two major works of his in recent years. The first is his excellent book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon and the second is the study he and Linda LaScola did, "Preachers who are not Believers." In both places Dennett describes considerable emotional malaise among priests, pastors who have lost their faith, but essentially have no where to go. The Clergy Project (made possible by a large grant from The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason) is an organization that exists to help such pastors with resources, a place to network, and, perhaps just as important, a place to affirm that they are not alone.
If you are a pastor, or know a pastor that might benefit from The Clergy Project, do pass on the link.
Here is the mission statement of The Clergy Project:
The Clergy Project
The purpose of The Clergy Project is to provide a safe haven for active and former clergy who do not hold supernatural beliefs.
The purpose of this “Public Page” is to announce our existence and to reach out to current and former clergy who want to be a part of the group.
The Clergy Project launched a private, invitation only, website on March 21, 2011 with 52 members. Currently it has nearly 200 members.
It originated from a growing awareness of the presence of these clergy and a concern about their dilemma as they moved beyond faith. There were three sources of this awareness and concern:
Stories of the life experiences of former clergy that Dan Barker of the Freedom from Religion Foundation has been collecting over the years;
A preliminary study of “Preachers Who Are Not Believers,” by philosopher Daniel Dennett and researcher Linda LaScola, published in March, 2010 in Evolutionary Psychology and The Washington Post;
Ongoing discussions between Dan Barker and Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion” about the need to help clergy who want to leave the ministry.
The Clergy Project is an on-line meeting place where former and active clergy can talk freely among themselves. “Adam” and “Chris,” still in the ministry, are the moderators; Dan Barker, former evangelical preacher, is the facilitator.
The Clergy Project was made possible through a donation from The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
A link to Dennett and LaScola's study: http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/Non-Believing-Clergy.pdf