The Pope is Not Alone: Other Clergy Want Out Too
February 26, 2013
“Adam,” a founding member of the Clergy Project, closeted atheist and an active Pastor, is the first recipient of the Employment Transition Assistance Grant.
The Stiefel Freethought Foundation’s generous donation of $100,000.00 is giving hope to Clergy Project members who feel trapped and unable to find secular employment. In his own words, Adam details the challenges he faces and the hope that this new program is giving him, as he works to leave the pulpit behind.
For the last four years, I have felt trapped and at times hopeless because I am a closeted atheist pastor. After much reflection, I no longer share the religious beliefs of the faith community I serve. I belong to a fundamentalist, evangelical, Bible-believing denomination, which means if anyone found out about my change in beliefs, I would lose my job immediately and plunge my family into financial ruin.
For the last two years, I have secretly sought a secular job but have been unable to find one. While I have good skills that are transferable, I, like many other job seekers, have been facing tough competition and challenging economic conditions. Not being able to be open with others about my situation and my desires has compounded the difficulty. I became so discouraged that I eventually stopped applying for jobs and wondered if I would ever be able to leave the faith that I no longer accepted. While I longed to leave hypocrisy and pretense behind, I felt I had to put the security and wellbeing of my loved ones above my own comfort and learn to live with the pain of professing a faith I no longer believed.
Fortunately, I became a member of The Clergy Project and, thanks to the generosity of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, I am receiving valuable assistance in finding sustainable employment. Having the services of a professional outplacement service – including a highly trained transition coach, a resume writer, use of personality and skill assessment tools, access to numerous private training resources, and even handpicked placement opportunity leads – has made all the difference. I am once again hopeful.
I know I am not alone in my desire to leave the ministry, so I am very excited not only for the prospect of my own new life, but also for the prospects of my friends currently in ministry who want to lead a life centered on reason instead of faith. Securing secular employment will no doubt be the crucial first step in safely moving beyond faith to a much wider world of opportunity.
For more information and to arrange a confidential identity-protected interview with Adam, please contact, Catherine Dunphy, acting Executive Director, the Clergy Project (202) 738-1764 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Clergy Project is a private, invitation only, online peer support community for active and former clergy who do not have supernatural beliefs.