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Out of the Closet

By Lynn, the Agnostic Pastor ~

We usually think of coming out of the closet in terms of the gay rights movement. But, as agnostics and atheists, we too are trapped in a closet. I really want to be out and open. My very core is one of honesty and integrity and the life I'm living now, in the closet, causes me great distress. I long for the day when I can say the things I truly believe (or disbelieve in this case), post quotes on my Facebook and be who I am. I know there are numerous clergy who in the same position. They have walked the journey of questions to a place of freedom in the truth, but they are trapped behind the pulpit. ABC news aired a great piece on pastors who have walked away from the faith but not their pulpits. You can see it here:

My heart goes out to each of these pastors. They, like I, entered the ministry with a strong passion to help others find truth. I never believed that the truth I would find is that everything I was 'taught' to believe is false. I feel a little ashamed that I couldn't see it for so many years. Part of it has to do with the way we were brain-washed. The christian community begins teaching their beliefs from birth. As children, we believe everything our parents say to us. From Santa and the tooth fairy, to the stories found in the Bible, we accept it...hook, line and sinker. I can remember asking questions as a girl and being told that questioning is a sign of weak faith. We are supposed to accept God at his word, without doubt. Verses like Hebrews 11:1 were quoted to me,

"Now faith is the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things UNSEEN" So, basically your telling me that my faith has to be based on NOTHING. No substance, no evidence. I believed this for so long, half my life actually. Never looking past the pages of the Bible for answers. I'm ashamed to say that it never dawned on me to do any research into the claims of my faith.

Looking back, I wonder how I could have missed it! I accepted everything that I was 'taught' and even went one step further and taught it to my congregations as well. I've preached sermons denouncing evolution, atheism and questioning God. I've encouraged my flock to abstain from reading those 'godless books' because it might cause them to question their faith. What hogwash! We should read and study and research everything! I was so arrogant, thinking I had all the answers. Now I realize I was simply following the dogma without thinking for myself.

I want to be out of the closet. I want to share the truth with others. I have a feeling that my skills as a speaker and leader will be used to help pastors who are struggling with their faith as well. But first, I have to be honest with the world. I have an exit strategy. My plan is to finish my commitment to this congregation and then gracefully walk away. You may think that I'm being cowardly, but I don't want to bring undue hurt to my church members. They must walk their own path and come to their conclusions on their own. I know that I will lose friends. My entire life has been centered on the church. I'm not even sure I know how to interact with 'real people'. I am attempting to reach out into the agnostic/atheist community in my town, but I have to be careful that I don't 'out' myself before I'm ready.

You know, you can call me a tight-rope walker for now. All I want is to make it to the other side.

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