Monday, June 11, 2012

"Pastor in Houston Publicly Comes Out as Atheist" - News Coverage Displays a Amazing Lack of Empathy

I just read the story about the Houston Pastor who publicly came out as an atheist. If you haven't yet, the link can be found here. The story doesn't provide his reasons - neither for losing his faith, nor for making this public - but of course they interview plenty of churchy people who are, of course, all shocked and disgusted. So far, nothing out of the ordinary. But around the 2:30 min. mark of the video they interview some Keith Jenkins, who is described as a "Former School of Theology President". And he gives us his opinion on those still-in-closet-atheists who still serve as Pastors:

"They need to move on. They don't need to stay within the church. And especially use their position to try to take others with them."

(emphasis mine)

I find this quite sickening, for what it reveals about the speaker. The moment these people were described as "atheists", they stopped being humans to him. They became evil things, dangers that every good christian needs to be protected against. His conclusion is clear: They need to leave the church. Now. He fails to make even the most basic connection, fails to see any implication of the situation at all. Somehow he jumped to his conclusion so quickly that he forgot that a pastor, every pastor, is somebody who has made a decision. He is somebody who based his entire life on his church. Clergy who lose their faith stand to lose it all: Not just their job (that part's for sure), but likely also both their friends and their family. Worse, they never learned anything that might be even remotely useful for a different job. What are you going to do with a degree in theology when no church will hire you? But this doesn't even enter good Keith's equation; it doesn't even cross his mind. To him, atheists are evil destructive elements, which need to be kept away from church. And of course the only reason an atheist might stay in the church at all is to "[ab]use his position to try and take others with him." For the sheer hell of it, supposedly. You know, simply because that's what we atheists do: Destroying other people's faith and eating babies.

I can think of no more obvious "no way out" scenario than a priest without faith. Such a person may pretty much write a book or go hungry - there is almost no imaginable employment. There is also an enormous loss of trust by friends and family who will all feel betrayed when he tells them that he's been living a lie for who knows how many years.
Again, the fact that they are literally no options for somebody faced with this scenario is glaringly obvious. But not to the likes of Keith Jenkins. He doesn't see the obvious - he only sees evil that needs to go away.

There are very few things in the world today that I find more scary than the fact that this kind of Person earns his money preaching "love thy neighbor" but is unable to see anything but evil when faced with personal tragedy.