The Clergy Project is an online support group that exists for former religious professionals who have found a better fit for their spiritual selves with Atheism. Formed in 2011, the group aims to help ex-clergy deal with the inevitable ethical and philosophical questions that arise when leaving a faith, as well as help them adapt to life away from the spiritual world.
We spoke to several former clergy involved in The Clergy Project about how and why they abandoned their faith.
Shlomo Levin, former Rabbi
As a rabbi, you are responsible for and called upon to answer questions. These questions range from the more profound, like, “Rabbi, what happens after we die?” to the very mundane, “Rabbi, is this yogurt kosher?” As I became older, I began to feel much less confident in my ability to know the answers to all of these questions. I found it very burdensome to have to have all the answers. People will ask after a funeral, “Can this person still hear me?” And I just have no idea. I couldn’t say, “I don’t know.” It really weighed on my conscious to give people answers that I knew could be hurtful to them. I think a lot of people find Orthodox Judaism a source of joy. I’m all for that, if that’s what they want. But at times, it was clearly not. Some people were just made to suffer.
I found it very liberating to not have belief. It’s hard to live knowing that there’s a God in the sky that will punish you if you don’t do a certain ritual at a certain time in a certain way. It’s a lot easier this way. I don’t miss it at all.