“Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father, which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father, which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).
A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon an extremely disturbing article on the internet. “From Minister To Atheist: A Story Of Losing Faith.” Here, is an excerpt: You may read the entire article at www.npr.org.
Teresa MacBain has a secret, one she’s terrified to reveal.
“I’m 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.”
According to the article, MacBain, 44, was raised a conservative Southern Baptist. Her dad was a pastor, and she felt the call of God when she was 6. She had questions, of course, about conflicts in the Bible, for example, or the role of women. She says she sometimes felt she was serving a taskmaster of a God, whose standards she never quite met.
For years, MacBain set her concerns aside. However, when she became a United Methodist pastor nine years ago, she started asking sharper questions. She thought they’d make her faith stronger.
“In reality,” she says, “as I worked through them, I found that religion had so many holes in it, that I just progressed through stages where I couldn’t believe it.”
The questions haunted her: Is Jesus the only way to God? Would a loving God torment people for eternity? Is there any evidence of God at all? And one day, she crossed a line.
“I just kind of realized — I mean just a eureka moment, not an epiphany, a eureka moment — I’m an atheist,” she says. “I don’t believe. And in the moment that I uttered that word, I stumbled and choked on that word — atheist.”
But it felt right.
On March 26, at the American Atheists‘ convention in Bethesda, MacBain seems almost giddy. The day before, she decided she would go before the conference’s 1,500 or so nonbelievers and announce that she is officially an atheist.
“I am nervous,” she says, “but at the same time I am so excited. I slept like a baby last night because I knew I wasn’t going to have to live a lie anymore. Such freedom.”
Moments later, in the darkened, cavernous conference room, MacBain steps onstage.
“My name is Teresa,” she begins. “I’m a pastor currently serving a Methodist church — at least up to this point” — the audience laughs — “and I am an atheist.”
Hundreds of people jump to their feet. They hoot and clap for more than a minute. MacBain then apologizes to them for being, as she put it, “a hater.”
“I was the one on the right track, and you were the ones that were going to burn in hell,” she says. “And I’m happy to say as I stand before you right now, I’m going to burn with you.”
A few minutes later, MacBain strides off the stage into a waiting crowd. One man is crying as he tells her that her speech is “one of the most moving things I’ve seen in years.” Another woman says she, too, had been a born-again Christian. “Join the club,” she says as she hugs MacBain.
“I have never felt so appreciated and cared for, you know?” MacBain says later, noting that she has left one community — Christianity — for another. “New member, just been born — that’s what it feels like.”
My friends, I do not know about you, but I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here, is a song that says it quite well.