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Unbelieving Preachers Get Help to 'Come Out' as Open Atheists
CNN ^ | 6/13/12 | Dan Merica

Posted on 06/13/2012 6:40:02 PM PDT by marshmallow

(CNN) – Jerry DeWitt entered the ministry when he was 17, launching a 25-year career as a Pentecostal preacher. He traveled all around his home state of Louisiana, preaching and ministering wherever he could.

All these years later, DeWitt, 42, is still on the road, and now takes his message all over the United States. But the nature of that message, along with his audience, has changed dramatically.

DeWitt is now an avowed atheist, and his audiences are made up of religious “nones,” the growing number of Americans who are atheist, agnostic, humanist or just plain disinterested in identifying with a religion. Today, DeWitt preaches a gospel of disbelief.

During his speeches, he talks about the process of leaving his preacher job. “If you don’t believe, then you will be like me – you’ll suddenly find yourself where you only have two choices,” DeWitt told a group in Johnson County, Kansas, earlier this year.

“You can either be honest that you don’t believe ... or you can pretend that you do,” he said. “Which is what so many people are doing and that is called faith.”

The transition from preacher to outspoken atheist has not been easy, and DeWitt is trying to smooth the way for other former believers. He is executive director of Recovering from Religion, an organization founded in 2009. Its slogan: “Thousands of organizations will help you get INTO religion, but we’re the only one helping you OUT.”

But a relatively new effort goes a step further than his own group by focusing on helping clergy in particular. In March 2011, a coalition that includes national groups such as American Atheists, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Richard Dawkins Foundation helped launch the Clergy Project, which is aimed at giving doubting and atheist preachers a community.....

(Excerpt) Read more at religion.blogs.cnn.com ...


TOPICS: Ministry/Outreach; Skeptics/Seekers; Theology
KEYWORDS: faithandphilosophy
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1 posted on 06/13/2012 6:40:09 PM PDT by marshmallow
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To: marshmallow

If a person can no longer defend what he thought was defensible, that’s cool, but it is an immoral act to take a living from an organization that you can no longer support.


2 posted on 06/13/2012 6:43:10 PM PDT by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults.)
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To: marshmallow

>> the growing number of Americans who are atheist, agnostic, humanist or just plain disinterested in identifying with a religion.

I have to ask why individuals with this affliction would go to the trouble of listening to a sermon about it. Isn’t that identifying with a faith system?


3 posted on 06/13/2012 6:44:17 PM PDT by Nervous Tick (Trust in God, but row away from the rocks!)
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To: marshmallow

No shock that an atheist would lie and steal from people who trusted him.


4 posted on 06/13/2012 6:45:18 PM PDT by alstewartfan ("You were trying to chisel a perfect truth When the instrument broke in your hand." Al Stewart)
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To: marshmallow

“helping clergy”.

Puke.


5 posted on 06/13/2012 6:47:07 PM PDT by ecomcon
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To: marshmallow

And they need to be shown the door.


6 posted on 06/13/2012 6:47:17 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: marshmallow

This guy is a liberal’s dream. Since liberals tend to denigrate religion, they will love someone like him, who for whatever reason, has fallen away from faith.


7 posted on 06/13/2012 6:47:31 PM PDT by Dilbert San Diego
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To: marshmallow; AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; ...

He’s probably been doing this for years already, and CNN is just helping him with publicity.


8 posted on 06/13/2012 6:53:23 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: marshmallow
I've had several opportunities to renounce my faith in the past 20 years but I have not because, ultimately, the proof that God exists and is involved in our lives is everywhere.

There have been times when I've been bitterly let down by God but I know my life is worthless without Christ and I would rather kill myself than live without that belief because I already know how futile life is otherwise.

The only thing that keeps me going is the belief that, in some way, God has a plan and a reward for me. If that's not true, my life was already wasted.

9 posted on 06/13/2012 6:53:31 PM PDT by OrangeHoof (Our economy won't heal until one particular black man is unemployed.)
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To: marshmallow

“A little more than a year later, 270 members are contributing to the message boards and connecting anonymously with one another.”

Wow, 270 people on an online message board and CNN thinks it’s a story! Forums for flat earthers probably get more participants than that.

I am all for unbelieving clergyman “coming out” as long a they resign their positions and renounce membership in their church.


10 posted on 06/13/2012 6:58:01 PM PDT by feralcat
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To: OrangeHoof

Well said.


11 posted on 06/13/2012 6:58:08 PM PDT by skeeter
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To: marshmallow
[When it launched last year, 52 clergy signed up for the online community, according to LaScola. A little more than a year later, 270 members are contributing to the message boards and connecting anonymously with one another.]

This is an anonymous, on-line forum where religious hucksters can exchange techniques in scamming parishioners. These are people who faked it from the beginning to gain power over the faithful and accumulate riches under a tax-exempt status. The clergy is riddled with sociopaths.

12 posted on 06/13/2012 7:05:12 PM PDT by Brad from Tennessee (A politician can't give you anything he hasn't first stolen from you.)
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To: OrangeHoof
There have been times when I've been bitterly let down by God

The proper way, I believe, to express this feeling is: "There have been times when I have felt let down by God..." When God does not answer our prayers as we would like, that just means He has another plan for us - one which is ultimately for the best.

Some have abandoned their faith when things did not turn out as they wanted, or they felt that God did not help them out of some difficulty. There are no easy answers when bad things happen to us. In such times we can only trust all the more in His unfailing love for us.

All the best and keep looking up!

13 posted on 06/13/2012 7:08:04 PM PDT by tjd1454
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To: marshmallow

From the last paragraph of the article:
“When I was 17, I preached what I believed was best for people at the time; when I was 20, it was a little different; at 25 it was different, too,” he said. “And now at 42, I am still the same guy preaching what I see is best for people.”

“... what I believed was best for people ... I am still the same guy preaching what I see is best for people.” OK. So, what has changed? My guess is that the “gospel” he used to preach was not really the gospel. The truth of God’s word was just his rendition of what he saw as truth. This guy is so full of himself that there is no room for Anyone else.

p.s. What the devil (term used advisedly) was he doing preaching at 17? What possible good could come of that? (1 Timothy 3:6)


14 posted on 06/13/2012 7:10:47 PM PDT by Belteshazzar (We are not justified by our works but by faith - De Jacob et vita beata 2 +Ambrose of Milan)
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To: OrangeHoof
I've had several opportunities to renounce my faith in the past 20 years

Actually you had every day in which you could have renounced your faith. Paul said "I die daily". He chose every day to renounce this world and embrace His Savior. His life was under attack daily (by Satan) as well.

15 posted on 06/13/2012 7:16:02 PM PDT by BipolarBob
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To: marshmallow

“...17, launching a 25-year career as a Pentecostal preacher.”

There is the beginning of the problem. He was too young to be given that responsibility, and most likely unprepared for it. His real problem is that he has never had a real job, one where he doesn’t live off of others. Let him earn a real living for awhile, and then tell me what he believes or doesn’t believe. At least then, he ill have earned my consideration.


16 posted on 06/13/2012 7:18:18 PM PDT by pallis
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To: marshmallow

This isn’t a suprise to me. Many ministers are most likely fakes. Jesus said (to those who worked in his name) that on the last day he will say, “Depart from Me; I did not know you.”

It doesn’t surprise me that CNN has a place in their news for this. For them, 277 people saying what they want to hear is an important story for them.

By the way, I’ve been a minister for 25 years. All true believers will have moments of doubt—but I’ve “cast my lot” with Christ. I will not deny what I believe through the scriptures.


17 posted on 06/13/2012 7:20:26 PM PDT by Justice4awe
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To: marshmallow

He could be an Episcopalian Bishop.


18 posted on 06/13/2012 7:23:34 PM PDT by Raycpa
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To: marshmallow

Very sad..


19 posted on 06/13/2012 7:29:26 PM PDT by JSDude1
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To: Justice4awe

How can one even ponder (it would kill me to even think about this) denying the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection: It is the only thing that can give life-through Him!


20 posted on 06/13/2012 7:33:30 PM PDT by JSDude1
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To: OrangeHoof

“I’ve had several opportunities to renounce my faith in the past 20 years...”

I imagine very few Believers don’t have times when they doubt God, lack faith, etc. “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for they will inherit the Kingdom of God”.

I read on FR quite awhile ago where they found some letters of Mother Theresa, and how they showed all sorts of fears and lack of faith. I suppose that is sort of like that definition of “courage”. Courage is just doing want needs to be done in spite of being scared.

OTOH, I might put him in touch with a former pastor of ours that came new to our church. About a year in he gave a sermon on how Jesus was NOT born of a Virgin, “I grew up on a farm, that’s impossible”. We had him over for dinner shortly after that. I asked him “Well, I’m afraid I already know what you think about the Resurrection.” He of course didn’t believe that either! We told him to take us off the rolls as we wouldn’t be back. And take the choir books with you.


21 posted on 06/13/2012 7:41:21 PM PDT by 21twelve
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To: marshmallow

Atheists just worship themselves as God!


22 posted on 06/13/2012 7:42:02 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: marshmallow

When you run out of sheep to fleece...find a new flock.

(Am I a cynical so-and-so or what?)


23 posted on 06/13/2012 7:51:43 PM PDT by RichInOC (Jesus is coming back soon...and man, is He ticked off. (I'm trying to keep it clean.))
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To: marshmallow

A lot of preachers, especially in the deep South, were raised as preachers as a family business, a highly competitive business often wracked by cynicism and greed.

For them, they were showmen, who provided entertainment under the guise of religion. This was often the case, as life in the deep South, from reconstruction to about the 1960s, was impressively boring.

It has even been suggested that the only two entertainments available to many people were tent revivals and lynchings.

The rather crude comedian Sam Kinison was raised to be such a preacher, and just couldn’t stand it anymore, revolted by the entire enterprise. Faith had nothing to do with it.

So I am not particularly surprised that there are those of that type who are atheists. They have rejected what they do as being to benefit others, and is just a profit making scheme.


24 posted on 06/13/2012 8:09:23 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy
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To: marshmallow
Everyone can make fun of this all you want, but there are a LOT of atheists in the ministry.

Most that I know didn't start that way, but when you've built a "career", it's tough to walk away and start again.

25 posted on 06/13/2012 8:13:17 PM PDT by JustCallMeFrank
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To: feralcat

“A little more than a year later, 270 members are contributing to the message boards and connecting anonymously with one another.”

I tried going onto that message board early today and it was restricted to people who agreed with the party line. They would not approve my ability to post.

Most religion today has little to do with worshiping God. It is either a charismatic stage hypnosis show, a legalistic peer group, or a self glorifying identity group. Things will be changing soon as it is time to get rid of the old wine skin and the old garment so the new can arrive. These tough times ahead are going to serve a spiritual purpose and realign people’s values.

Please don’t take my above comments to imply that I am anti-religion. I am anti “pseudo religion.” In order to know thy Father, you must look within. As my Father is in me and I am in my Father. These words really do make sense when you experience God rather than just theorize.


26 posted on 06/13/2012 8:17:49 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: marshmallow

I have had some of these same pastors and clergy come to me asking for help, stating “I am afraid I threw the baby out with the bath water when I abandoned my religion!” I guide them back to the path.

Remember Saul who became Paul. Sometimes it is your greatest critics who become your greatest evangelists!


27 posted on 06/13/2012 8:22:39 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tjd1454

“All the best and keep looking up!”

Excellent wisdom in all of your words.


28 posted on 06/13/2012 8:25:15 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: marshmallow

Athiesm is a religion. There is no proof whatsoever that God does not exist.


29 posted on 06/13/2012 8:27:22 PM PDT by Darren McCarty (The Republican Party is bigger than the presidency.)
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To: Belteshazzar

““When I was 17, I preached what I believed was best for people at the time; when I was 20, it was a little different; at 25 it was different, too,” he said. “And now at 42, I am still the same guy preaching what I see is best for people.””

The problem here is the “I”, “I”, “I”.

When I die of self (daily) then it is the Spirit of thy Father within me that teaches others. If I must brag, allow me to brag of my faults as it is only in diminishing “self” that I have made room for thy Father to be within me.


30 posted on 06/13/2012 8:29:45 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tired&retired

tired&retired wrote:
“The problem here is the ‘I’, ‘I’, ‘I’.”

Yes, that is part of the problem, to be sure. It always has been and always will be as long this fallen and corrupt world endures. But where were the older, more mature Christians to keep this self-absorbed teenager from inserting himself and his ego into the pulpit (or onto the stage, as the case may be)? Is there no responsibility on the part of the people who put up with preacherly nonsense and drivel of whatever kind? Where are parents, responsible parents?


31 posted on 06/13/2012 8:38:04 PM PDT by Belteshazzar (We are not justified by our works but by faith - De Jacob et vita beata 2 +Ambrose of Milan)
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To: OrangeHoof

“The only thing that keeps me going is the belief that, in some way, God has a plan and a reward for me. If that’s not true, my life was already wasted.”

Having physically died and experienced Heaven during a bout of meningitis over twenty years ago, I miss that wonderful feeling of being home and have often cried in sorrow asking God to either use me or let me come home. It was through these many experiences that I realized that Jesus’ great sacrifice was lowering himself to our level to teach us, not going home to be with our Father. I have no fear of death now, and actually look forward to it. The only reason I have the willpower to stay here is that “in some way, God has a plan for me.” My reward is in going Home (again)!!


32 posted on 06/13/2012 8:42:46 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: 21twelve

What you say is very true of Mother Theresa having doubts. The same was true of every single apostle, disciple, or saint. You can’t approach the dark-night-of-the-soul without having doubts, and you can’t experience God without going through the dark-night-of-the-soul.

The process though is not doubting God, it is doubting “self” and the realization that we are not in control, a necessary step in surrendering to God and finding joy.

There are no atheists in foxholes!


33 posted on 06/13/2012 8:52:39 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tired&retired

Thank God for your beautiful testimony, dear tired&retired!


34 posted on 06/13/2012 8:55:53 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: tired&retired

One of my favorite all time quotes was Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. It was during a National Day of Prayer when a group of Methodist ministers came to visit Mr. Lincoln and said, “We pray that God is on our side.”

Mr. Lincoln replied,”That is not my concern! But that we are on God’s side is my concern!”


35 posted on 06/13/2012 8:56:12 PM PDT by tired&retired
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Comment #36 Removed by Moderator

To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

“The rather crude comedian Sam Kinison was raised to be such a preacher, and just couldn’t stand it anymore, revolted by the entire enterprise.”

And then they move to bigger fish by becoming politicians!


37 posted on 06/13/2012 8:59:53 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: Belteshazzar

I agree with you. It’s a sign of the times we are in.


38 posted on 06/13/2012 9:03:08 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tired&retired

Just remember, no matter how much peril we encounter, no matter how much pain & suffering, there will be a “Happy Ending!”


39 posted on 06/13/2012 9:08:10 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: marshmallow

Helping people out of a religion? I don’t get it. Are there religions (not cults) that force people to believe?

And why would someone preach a sermon about something he DOESN’T believe in?


40 posted on 06/13/2012 9:14:36 PM PDT by Terry Mross ("It happened. And we let it happen." - Peter Grifin, FAMILY GUY)
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To: tired&retired

Thank you for your words.


41 posted on 06/13/2012 9:39:22 PM PDT by OrangeHoof (Our economy won't heal until one particular black man is unemployed.)
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To: All; marshmallow

Proverbs 19:5, “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.”

Proverbs 19:9, “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.”

Proverbs 21:6, “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.”

Proverbs 26:28, “A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.”

Proverbs 29:12, “If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.”


42 posted on 06/13/2012 10:32:40 PM PDT by johngrace (I am a 1 John 4! Christian- declared at every Sunday Mass , Divine Mercy and Rosary prayers!)
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To: marshmallow
I will pray for him. So Sad.

So I guess he believes in "The Eternal Chance" or " Father Chance".

43 posted on 06/13/2012 10:52:42 PM PDT by johngrace (I am a 1 John 4! Christian- declared at every Sunday Mass , Divine Mercy and Rosary prayers!)
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To: marshmallow
Hebrews 4:4-8
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

Either this guys is in deep, deep deception and demonic influence and will one day break out of it and repent and be gravely sorrowful for the damage he is doing to the cause of Christ OR he never was a Christian and he finally realized that the devil pays more for his efforts. The retirement plan is NOT worth it and, one day, he will come to the knowledge of the truth. I hope it is before it becomes too late.

44 posted on 06/13/2012 11:21:14 PM PDT by boatbums (God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.)
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To: tired&retired

I’m always suspicious of believers who claim to have zero doubts about their faith and salvation. That’s not my experience. I wish I could say I never doubt, but sometimes I do.

I arrived at Christianity through the study of scripture. It wasn’t so much an emotional experience as an intellectual decision that Christ was plausible. He made a good case and seemed to have a very good explanation for why the world is the way it is (His parables, especially, are very enlightening).

Christ didn’t leave a lot of wiggle room either. You can either believe He was telling the truth, something that compels one to act, or you can think He lied. He himself didn’t leave any middle ground (contrary to those who think He was a prophet or just a guy with good intentions).

So it comes down to putting trust, call it faith, that Christ was who He said He was. If it turns out that I end up being a fool for Christ, I won’t know it. On the other hand, I hope and pray for mercy and will receive it if He was who He said He was.

BTW, I periodically re-evaluate my decision when doubts arise. I always come back to the realization that I’ve never heard a better explanation than Christ’s.


45 posted on 06/14/2012 2:05:34 AM PDT by CitizenUSA (Why celebrate evil? Evil is easy. Good is the goal worth striving for.)
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To: marshmallow
There was a poster on FR from a while ago who interviewed a lot of pastors and priests, and found that quite a number of them no longer or never did believe in God.

The kept on serving as clergy because they didn't know what else to do, or because they wanted to help people.

46 posted on 06/14/2012 4:22:21 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy
Looking at a lot of the “mega churches”, I wonder how far that has spread.

Same as it ever was though. Luther pointed this out about the bishops of his day, and it has never really changed. The life of a pastor is very appealing to a narcissist.

47 posted on 06/14/2012 4:28:45 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Nervous Tick

That’s just what Unitarians have been for years!


48 posted on 06/14/2012 4:42:24 AM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: OrangeHoof

It’s not about you.


49 posted on 06/14/2012 4:46:42 AM PDT by AppyPappy (If you really want to annoy someone, point out something obvious that they are trying hard to ignore)
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To: johngrace

He’s an anti-Christian. Anti-Christians usually go one of two ways: They go into Christianity because they are so immersed in it or they find a kooky religion to follow.


50 posted on 06/14/2012 4:50:40 AM PDT by AppyPappy (If you really want to annoy someone, point out something obvious that they are trying hard to ignore)
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