The Clergy Project was launched roundabouts March 2011. For those who don’t know anything about it, the Clergy Project aims to help clergy members who have lost their faith leave their religion. It started when people like Daniel Dennett and Linda Schola began to notice that there were a lot of clergy who had lost their faith that were trapped within their religion. Many clergymen go into the church straight from high school and even before high school are often trained (let’s call it what it is, they’re brainwashed and indoctrinated) outside of the classroom to take their place as priests of the faith. When a priest no longer believes however, they can become trapped within the occupation because they quite simply know nothing else. Their entire life has been devoted to the church as well as their education, so how can they make a living with only the job skills of a priest?
Used car saleman? Telemarketer? Confidence man?
…..As usual I am astounded at the level of tact and sensitivity you display to others.
To return to the point at hand. The Project provides a space for these men and women who are no longer able to hold onto their religious beliefs, but for social and economic reasons are trapped within their jobs. If you can spare the extra bit of coin you can follow the link up above that we’ve provided to donate to the Project, which is sponsored by the Richard Dawkins Foundation.
The reason that I bring this up is in response to this article recently written by Daniel K. Norris. A man whom you may recognize as being a student of the Steve Hill Ministries.
Steve Hill being a man who once wrote an article last year lambasting other priests and religious leaders for having “Man of God Syndrome”. Wherein they give themselves over to self-adoration and self-promotion and become so enamoured with their perceived value that they spend their lives making sure everyone knows their reputation. Which is certainly a valid point. As well as being a rather admirable thing to take a stand for among his fellow theists.
And you can discover more of the things that he stands for by going to his ministries website and reading one of the over a dozen books that he sells. Or buying one of the over fifty DVD videos and audio books he produces. There’s also the personal business cards that you can buy. His Youtube channel, Twitter feed, three other websites, and online tv news channel. Not to mention his appearance four years ago in the Law and Order:Criminal Intent PC game. All of which are very prominently displayed, lauded, and advertised on the homepage.
Ok,ok, can we get back to the main point, please?
Also you can read about his deliverance from a life of drugs, how passionate and dedicated he is to helping people, as well as how he draws in four million people from over one hundred and fifty countries just to hear him speak. How hundreds of thousands have wept at the altars, repented of their sinful lives, and gave themselves to Jesus after hearing his words. Lives have been changed, marriages saved, and addictions have lost their hold over men at hearing the clarity with which he conveys the message of Jesus. Read about how he holds entire stadiums and arenas in…..
I said, OK! Can we get back to the main point, please?
Sure. Why didn’t you just ask that in the first place?
Now the majority of the article you can read for yourself if you wish, but the part that interested us was what he says in the second part when he starts talking about the recent coming out of an atheist pastor named Justin Vollmar. When talking about Mr.Vollmar he has this to say:
“Thankfully Justin’s story isn’t over. I trust and pray that one day he will have a true life-changing encounter with Jesus. It appears he has never had that experience.
The Clergy Project exposes a great need in the body of Christ. A quick read of Justin’s story reveals that he never had a strong spiritual father in his life to help mentor him and prepare him for the work of the ministry. He was hurt and offended by leaders he felt used him but didn’t equip him. Justin found himself more and more isolated over the years. This fatherless son became easy prey.”
Mr.Norris is very quick to write off the entirety of Mr.Vollmar’s experience and testimony about what he experienced as a Christian and as a pastor, and in a way that is very insulting and patronizing as well. All of the reasons that he gives for losing his faith in the church is thrown away in favour of the assumption that it must simply be because out of all of the things that happened to Mr.Vollmar throughout his life, he never had a true encounter with Jesus. Essentially that he was never truly a Christian in the first place because if he had been then he would have had a true experience. Whatever that is actually supposed to mean.
Yeah isn’t there supposed to be something in their religion about not judging others? I’m pretty sure there’s something about not judging others. I think it’s in that book they wave around when they yell at gay people.
“I have been fortunate to have great spiritual fathers in my life. I have experienced firsthand the incredible benefits and necessity of such a mentor. My heart breaks for those who have not found or been willing to embrace the fathers in their life. It is the lack of godly fathers that is destroying our families, both natural and spiritual.”
Again we see that it is not anything to do with evidence, or the religion being corrupt, or inner-reflection, conscience, etc. It can clearly be none of those. It’s only a matter of not having the proper experiences or the proper teachers. If you had the proper teachers and the proper experiences, like Mr.Norris, then you would certainly agree with and think like him. I truly advise you to read up on Mr.Vollmar’s story and see for yourselves just what exactly Mr.Norris is trivializing here. I really do often find myself wondering whether people like this are aware of the astounding arrogance they display with type of action.
Well he is a student of Steve Hill. Clearly he’s learned his lessons about humility well.
Since Norris brought it up, let’s take a quick look at the lessons he says that he learned from his “strong spiritual fathers”.
“1. I’ve been taught to Keep a closed mind.
I have personally tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I have encountered His presence and can now testify of that which I have seen with my eyes and heard with my ears. I have no doubt. My faith is set. My mind is made up.
Steve Hill has reminded me several times that Jesus was the most closed-minded individual to ever walk the earth. It’s true. There was no persuading Jesus and no debating with Him. His mind was firmly set upon the truth, and He was unwavering.
This resolute determination changed the world. He encouraged the same in His disciples.”
Well at least he admits this up front. The sad thing about it is that this isn’t a Poe.
“2. I’ve been taught that this is a call, not a career.
I can take you to the square footage of carpet that I first heard His call. It was real, it was powerful, and it was life-changing. This call is not something that I chose; it chose me. He called; I surrendered. Every minister must have this moment.
I’ve been challenged by my spiritual fathers that if you can imagine yourself doing anything else other than the ministry, chances are you are not called to it. Harsh? Not at all.
It has to become part of your being as much as anything else. For me, I could no more abandon this call than I could abandon the air I breathe. It is not something I do; it is very much who I am.
Dawkins may find success in getting someone to switch careers, but good luck trying to get someone to switch their call. You can choose a career, but a call chooses you.”
Once you’re in, you’re in for life. Sounds like the mob. Seriously, it’s a pretty convenient position to take. If you ever decide that you no longer want the job or that you don’t believe, it’s because you never actually believed in the first place. It’s the unbeatable argument, but for the wrong reasons. Not because the argument is good, but because it’s so batshit insane and convoluted you’d need five sherpa guides and Rand McNally himself to navigate it.
“3. I’ve been taught to stay in the closet.
This is paramount! The world may be moved by those who come out of the closet, but the kingdom is moved by those who go into the closet.
Someone who has not found the strength of a personal prayer closet will flounder in the world, persuaded by every wind of “truth” that comes blowing in their direction.
I am thankful for spiritual fathers who modeled a godly prayer life before me and taught me to seek the face of God until I could hear His still small voice.
This was the obvious secret to Jesus’ powerful earthly ministry. He constantly tucked Himself away to spend time in prayer so that He could hear the Father’s voice. You and I are no different. No man is greater than His own prayer life! We have to fight for and maintain that secret place.”
No!You are not going there!You just leave it alone, you hear me?!
I feel a great disturbance in the force. As though a billion gay jokes cried out at once and were silenced.
So let’s review the lessons that he learned from his teachers in pastor school. Never be curious or question. If you don’t believe completely and forever you never really believed. Close yourself off to any outside information and focus on prayers.
Yeah, there’s nothing remotely cultish about that. I can’t honestly imagine why some people would feel constricted and strangled in that environment.
Mr.Norris claims that the Clergy Project is preying on the weak and weary members of the priesthood, but who is preying on the weak here exactly? The group who picks people up and teaches them to only think in the way approved by the group. Only act in the way as approved by the group. And to never open themselves up to outside information that is not of the group. Or the ones who are inviting those who do no longer wish to be part of the group to a place where they can be that in safety. Mr.Vollmar speaks of being shunned by his community simply because he resigned his position at the church he was first at when he felt he was being abused the senior priest. Not that he left the faith or stopped being a pastor. He simply resigned his position from that particular church. His church and his faith kicked him when he was down and needed them the most because he wasn’t doing what he was told. Mr. Norris however, portrays the Clergy Project as the ones taking advantage of him?
Perhaps, Mr.Norris, the reason the Clergy Project is managing to convince so many and bring so many out from hiding is because there are more than you think who have not been fooled by the same brainwashing that worked on you, but are kept in line out of the fear that they’ll be (pardon the expression) crucified by the church and their peers. Maybe they did have the ‘true’ experience you spoke of and they came to understand what the real truth of their faith was.
After all, let’s be honest, you can’t expect the CGI guys to believe the dragon is real.