From: Jane E.
Sent on: Sunday, November 25, 2012 12:10 AM

I've updated this Meetup. For more details, see the full listing:

When: Thursday, November 29,[masked]:00 PM

New York, NY 10018

If the changes affect your plans to attend, please take a moment to update your RSVP. (You can RSVP "No" or "Yes".)

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Meet Pastor Teresa MacBain...

Preacher Who ‘Came Out’ as Atheist in Wash.DC

In Front of 1,500 People

If you thought it was daunting to come out as an Atheist to your parents, you will appreciate the courage of Pastor Teresa MacBain who came out as an Atheist for the first time in front of 1,500 people at the American Atheist convention that took place right after the Reason Rally in March.

We were there in the audience when she unexpectedly came out. She had been billed simply as “Lynn,” a pastor who was going to speak to us incognito. Instead, Teresa MacBain suddenly decided, on stage, to tell her real name and to announce, tearfully, to her family and to the world that she is a nonbeliever.

There were lots of tears in the audience, too.  Explains Teresa: “When I got up there and was standing in front of 1,500 people, I became overwhelmed by the misconceptions I’d had about Atheists...I felt I had wronged them for years...even if it was just by acting superior, like: ‘I know the right way and you don’t, and if you don’t follow my way, then you’re going to die and go to hell!’”

Father Was Baptist Minister

Teresa grew up “in the church.” Her father was a Baptist minister in rural Alabama, and as long as she can remember, she participated in the life of the church with her Dad. “It was a natural thing to do, to be a pastor. That’s all I ever wanted to do.”

She got a Bachelor’s degree in Christian Education from Samford University in Birmingham and a Master’s of Divinity from Duke in Durham, N.C. But the Baptist church doesn’t accept female pastors, so she switched to the Methodist church, where she started out as an associate pastor in a small town near Tallahassee, Florida, and where, for most of her career,  she plied the trade of church pastor.

‘Shift Happens’

Her disaffection from religion came slowly. “I was about 12 years old when I saw some contradictions in the Bible but I suppressed all those doubts and questions because I was taught that it was a sin. So for 30 years, I suppressed all of that. [She is now 44, married to a retired military man and has two sons.] “I just shut the door on all of it and thought I had locked it for good...but it would not stay locked.”

In a private, almost secret, part of her life, she read forbidden books: Iconoclast Bart Ehrman on scripture, Atheist Richard Carrier and former pastor Dan Barker, now the co-leader of Freedom From Religion Foundation.

And she discovered The Clergy Project, the web site started by Tufts professor and Atheist Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola, for pastors who were losing their faith, and she participated under the name “Lynn.”  It marked the beginning of her liberation from religion and embracing a totally new life.  Or as she often explains  it succinctly to people, “Shift happens.”

A New Life Today

Today, she is the Director of Communications for American Atheists Inc. at their headquarters in Cranford, N.J., where she now lives and is writing a book about her journey to Atheism.

Come hear this remarkable woman tell about her wrenching change from lifelong believer to secret doubter to full-fledged, open Atheist, at the NYC Atheists monthly meeting on Thursday, November 29.

Show your support for the brave ex-pastors and ex-preachers who suffer the slings and arrows of their former congregations, their friends and often their families, in order to hold their heads high as truth-tellers.


WHAT:           “My Journey from Methodist Pastor to Atheist,”

a talk by Teresa MacBain.

WHEN:           Thursday, November 29, 2012  at 6:30 P.M.

WHERE:          New Location!   15 West 39th Street - 3rd Floor

COST:              We appreciate a donation of $5.

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