From Minister To Atheist: A Story Of Losing Faith

by BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY (NPR)

April 30, 2012

This is the first in a series of stories on losing faith.

Teresa MacBain has a secret, one she's terrified to reveal.

"I'm currently an active pastor and I'm also an atheist," she says. "I live a double life. I feel pretty good on Monday, but by Thursday — when Sunday's right around the corner — I start having stomachaches, headaches, just knowing that I got to stand up and say things that I no longer believe in and portray myself in a way that's totally false."

MacBain glances nervously around the room. It's a Sunday, and normally she would be preaching at her church in Tallahassee, Fla. But here she is, sneaking away to the American Atheists' convention in Bethesda, Md.

Her secret is taking a toll, eating at her conscience as she goes about her pastoral duties week after week — two sermons every Sunday, singing hymns, praying for the sick when she doesn't believe in the God she's praying to. She has had no one to talk to, at least not in her Christian community, so her iPhone has become her confessor, where she records her private fears and frustrations.

"On my way to church again. Another Sunday. Man, this is getting worse," she tells her phone in one recording. "How did I get myself in this mess? Sometimes, I think to myself, if I could just go back a few years and not ask the questions and just be one of those sheep and blindly follow and not know the truth, it would be so much easier. I'd just keep my job. But I can't do that. I know it's a lie. I know it's false."

You can hear and read more here..

Views: 211

Tags: Atheist, Pastor, Religion, Secret, deconversion, double-life

Comment by Mabel on May 1, 2012 at 9:16pm

I'm admire this woman for having the courage to come out of the closet and walk away once she realized the truth. The Clergy Project is a wonderful thing. I'm glad she was able to connect with them and obtain valuable guidance and support.

I wish her the continued determination she will need to get through this difficult transition. It is such a shame that some of her friends in the church, refused to associate with her once she came out. Rejection and ostracization are a common experience for people in her position in the USA.

Comment by M on May 2, 2012 at 1:36pm

May she find peace within herself.  She's got a particularly difficult "outing" ahead of her, and I hope she is well-supported by those who love her.

Comment by Mabel on May 2, 2012 at 5:23pm

@ M - If you read the whole story (click on You can hear and read more here.. link) you will see she already did come out. Just letting you know. I know the link is hard to see.

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