Pharyngula

The worst job in the world

Are the fundies imploding? Look at this summary of their own assessment of the status of the evangelical priesthood:

Another article reveals even more telling statistics based on a survey of 1,050 evangelical Pastors (note these are evangelical pastors not liberal pastors):

  • 89% considered leaving the ministry at one time.
  • 57% said they would leave if they had a better place to go?including secular work.
  • 77% felt they did not have a good marriage!
  • 75% felt they were unqualified and/or poorly trained by their seminaries to lead and manage the church or to counsel others. This left them disheartened in their ability to pastor. 
  • 71% stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis. 
  • 38%  said they were divorced or currently in a divorce process.
  • 30% either has an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.
  • 23% said they felt happy and content on a regular basis with who they are in Christ, in their church, and in their home!

The same article also gives the following research distilled from Barna, Focus on the Family, and Fuller Seminary.

  • 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
  • 50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
  • 80 percent of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.
  • 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • 40% of pastors polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.

I imagine it’s a high-stress job. These people are actually intelligent, and relatively well-educated…and their job requires standing up in front of crowds every week, and dealing one-on-one with others frequently, and telling them a line of foolishness.

It’s an interesting complement to Dan Dennett’s work on priests who don’t believe — the statistics tell us something about the frequency of doubt, while Dennett’s stories tell us what’s going on in their heads.

Comments

  1. #1 Funnybowl
    May 20, 2010

    I wonder what the stats would be for Catholic Priests.

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    May 20, 2010

    Know (say you do) Jesus, no peace, I guess.

    Weren’t those problems what Xianity is supposed to cure?

    So this is why we have to lie to kids about science?

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  3. #3 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 20, 2010

    That’s really very sad. It’s a pity more of them don’t seem to get a clue, especially with those numbers on “moral failure”.

  4. #4 idiotiddidit#5116d
    May 20, 2010

    Rather than trying to deconvert the addicted flocks, maybe we should target the dealers. We should set up job placement centers targeted at these hollow actors and give them some real job skills.

  5. #5 Scott
    May 20, 2010

    You mean they’re actually NORMAL human beings and not anointed ministers, preordained by God? No fuckin way…

  6. #7 https://me.yahoo.com/a/NxE_lE0Lh_9JksaAqRedu6R7Vg--#bf6f6
    May 20, 2010

    ObEstes: And that’s the HardTruth!

  7. #8 James F
    May 20, 2010

    77% felt they did not have a good marriage!

    It’s the gays’ fault!!!

    38% said they were divorced or currently in a divorce process.

    The gays!!!

    30% either has an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.

    Gays!!!

    50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.

    Gays again!

    40% of pastors polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.

    Gays! Gays! Gays!

  8. #9 Colors
    May 20, 2010

    I always knew this was the case, but I never imagined the numbers would be so large. It’s very telling, really. For one, religion’s actual capacity to build character and nurture relationships, compared to its believed capacity, is plainly suspect. And, once you’re too far in, you are for most intents and purposes just shit out out of easy exits.

    You do develop incredible acting skills, though.

  9. #10 A. Nuran
    May 20, 2010

    The statistics don’t indicate “worst job in the world”. Pretty bad, but cops, dentists, psychiatrists and a number of others have it worse on a bunch of counts.

    Does this mean the ministry is imploding? I don’t know. Neither do you. To begin to tell you’d have to compare similar surveys collected in comparable ways at other times and try to see a trend. You’d have to consider confounding factors like the status clergy had/have, other opportunities for men with similar education and correct for intangibles like how honest the respondents might have been at those times.

    In short, it sounds like the being an evangelical minister has real problems. But just from this survey we don’t know what the trend is if any.

    Come on, PZ, you’re a better scientist than that.

  10. #11 Heather Clemenceau
    May 20, 2010

    Maybe we should send Mike Rowe out into the field and see how the job of a pastor compares to sitting in the back of a Transportation Dept. Roadkill Recovery Truck. Recovering roadkill would be a lot easier for moi, actually……

  11. #12 Hank Fox
    May 20, 2010

    Probably most of them don’t know, or don’t want to know, that what they’re telling their parishioners is foolishness. They WANT to believe … and think there’s something wrong with they themselves for not being able to fully believe.

    They’re depressed not because they know the party line is a lie, but because they feel their faith is weak.

  12. #13 Ichthyic
    May 20, 2010

    But just from this survey we don’t know what the trend is if any.

    well, the evangelicals themselves seem to think they are on the outs…

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2009/0310/p09s01-coop.html

    Come on, PZ, you’re a better scientist than that.

    that’s an asinine statement.

  13. #14 Hank Fox
    May 20, 2010

    Meanwhile, Glenn Beck has started preaching.

    What if this is all the result of a sort of corporatization and fundamentalization of churches? I mean, the big vicious ones get bigger, while the small gentle ones die off.

  14. #15 Ichthyic
    May 20, 2010

    What if this is all the result of a sort of corporatization and fundamentalization of churches?

    you have a good point there, I think. Might indeed be something to that, given the formation and popularity of the “megamall” churches over the last 10 years.

  15. #16 jablair51
    May 20, 2010

    30% either has an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.

    This number seems really low to me. Or I’m just really really cynical.

  16. #17 https://me.yahoo.com/a/NrvmRup42p768eZvsHm8DjxgQ98xtSnzN6U-#8fa79
    May 20, 2010

    Very interesting, but not surprising. My father is a Lutheran pastor and I doubt having an atheist son ranks among the 20 most stressful things in his life. I imagine that all of the counseling duties (personal, marriage, etc.) cause the largest amount of stress for most of these pastors.

  17. #18 Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad
    May 20, 2010

    It would be interesting to compare this with how people in other lines of work (where applicable, of course) and more liberal pastors feel. My guess is that it’s rather on the high end in many of these categories.

  18. #19 Mylegacy
    May 20, 2010

    Before I became an atheist – I was considering entering the priesthood – I went to several seminaries to check them out – I remember meeting several students there who readily admitted they were atheist (or agnostic) but were very interested in “theology” as an interesting field of study.

    Methinks – they might also have been interested in alter boys even more.

  19. #20 Standard Curve
    May 20, 2010

    Wow, and I thought people in the pharma business were disillusioned.

  20. #21 Ken
    May 20, 2010

    Being a pastor can kind of be like some college professors I’ve known.

    They give a few lectures per week based on a book that is years out of date, handle problems with individual students, and drudge through administrative work that they wish they didn’t have to do the rest of the week.

    Priests even have to grade homework (in the confessional).

    I wonder how those stats would compare to a similar survey of college instructors?

    Maybe part of the problem priests have is that they can do little or nothing to change their work. Professors CAN change their course book and keep up on changes in their field adding to and updating their course work, turning their lectures into interactive discussions. But many don’t, and seem to approach their job as if they too were a priest or pastor…

  21. #22 raven
    May 20, 2010

    It’s not just the ministers. By my reckoning, between 1-2 million people are leaving the xian religion every year. Below is data from fundie sources. They know it.

    Lifeway:

    Some Young Adults Are Leaving Church What?s their gripe? And what can you learn from this exodus?

    By Doug Horchak An April-May 2007 study in the United States found that young adults are leaving Christian churches in record numbers. The primary reason? They find their church irrelevant to their lives and many of its members judgmental or hypocritical.

    A survey by LifeWay Research revealed that seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23 And 34% of those said they had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30 ?

    ??This is sobering news,? says Ed Stetzer, director of Nashville-based LifeWay Research, which is affiliated with the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. ?It seems the teen years are like a free trial on a product. By 18, when it?s their choice whether to buy in to church life, many don?t feel engaged and welcome,? says associate director Scott McConnell? (Cathy Lynn Grossman, ?Young Adults Aren?t Sticking With Church,? USA Today, Aug. 8, 2007).
    Barna poll:

    Even among young Christians ? [half] of young churchgoers said they perceive Christianity to be, too judgmental, hypocritical, and too political. One-third said it was old-fashioned and out of touch with reality.

  22. #23 Leigh Williams, WeWhoStormTheGatesOfOmelas, OM
    May 20, 2010

    The two Baptist pastors I’ve known well both burned out. Neither lost their belief in God, but oh, they were so tired.

    Doing that job right requires everything you’ve got: all your time, all your emotional energy, every bit of empathy you have. Both these guys were at the hospital, at the funeral home, by the sickbeds, at the homes of their shut-ins, in their offices counseling, available by phone all the time. They poured oil on troubled waters, moderated fights in the congregation, tried to preach sermons that would help their congregants deal with life (and amazingly succeeded!), worked on projects for the community like job programs, were students of human nature, read constantly (yes, they read the Bible too). It was a 24X7 job for them.

    They lived on next to no money. They were smart guys and good people. They weren’t flim-flam men; they believed what they preached. Neither of them had any time for the politics of hatred; they were too busy for that foolishness.

    They just got so exhausted that they couldn’t go on. It’s a hard, hard job to take care of people when your heart is in the work and you feel everyone else’s pain so deeply. I think they shared in the joys, too, but eventually the total burden just became too much.

  23. #24 raven
    May 20, 2010

    40% of pastors polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.

    Not surprising. Being a pastor must be an easy way to meet women. Hmmmm, is that a side benefit or a good reason to become a pastor?

    We all have heard what some priests have been up to. I guess wanting to meet women is a step up from wanting to meet little girls and boys.

  24. #25 alistair.coleman
    May 20, 2010

    As any Pete ‘n’ Dud fan will tell you, the worst job in the world involves a) Jayne Mansfield and b) lobsters.

  25. #26 Anubis Bloodsin the third
    May 20, 2010

    As any Pete ‘n’ Dud fan will tell you, the worst job in the world involves a) Jayne Mansfield and b) lobsters.

    Oh I don’t know…methinks there is a modicum of job satisfaction to be had from that combination.
    Requiring a smidgeon of creativity…and probably black leather!

  26. #27 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    May 20, 2010

    Quite revealing!

  27. #28 Pikemann Urge
    May 20, 2010

    Leigh #23

    Doing that job right requires everything you’ve got: all your time, all your emotional energy, every bit of empathy you have.

    Perhaps it’s so tough because so many in the congregation can’t get their acts together properly. But yeah, I do sympathize with them, as they are trying to help others.

    I remember a kids’ story about a kingdom of cats. The king wanted a servant to hold his tail off the ground, and that servant wanted someone to hold his tail off the ground… Eventually every cat agreed that they should carry their own tails. What cats were doing walking on two legs is another matter… but the moral stands!

  28. #29 Pinkydead
    May 20, 2010

    What the hell is “Spiritual Burnout”?

    Is it a “Post Charismatic Stress Disorder”?

  29. #30 Louis
    May 20, 2010

    I’m with PZ on this, I imagine it’s a tough job being therapist+teacher+leader to a community. I also imagine it’s one of those jobs that high acheiveing people in their communities like because of the apparent status and kudos. My guess would be that the reality is far less pleasant for most than the dream.

    Even if I were religious, it’s not a job I’d want.

    Louis

  30. #31 arkestrate
    May 20, 2010

    Just being a bit off-topic:

    I’m in Pakistan right now, and from yesterday until probably the end of this month, Facebook, Youtube and Wikipedia are banned. It’s due to the Draw Mo Day, and the sad thing is that there’s public support for the ban. @#$@#.

  31. #32 Richard Eis
    May 20, 2010

    Looking after humans can more often than not be a depressing, draining, difficult job that rarely pays well.
    They don’t even have a proper support network of social care and specialised training behind them. Just an out of date book and a lot of hot air.

  32. #33 Anubis Bloodsin the third
    May 20, 2010

    Highly unlikely it is the altruistic element of the job that creates the stress.
    Although in a community of several thousand even hundred it would be a full time job pandering to all needs and requirements.

    Altruism and acts pertaining to the help of people whether practical or comfort extended would presumably tickle the endorphin production centres of the brain, that warm fuzzy feeling of satisfaction, and the reception of folks grateful for your administrations.
    That buzz can only last so long in any circumstance.

    It is more likely to be the dissonance between what rationality is possessed and the continual descent every minute of every day into a fairy story which you have to pretend whatever to be real and meaningful because that is the number one expectation.
    No matter how committed to an ideal you start with the barrier between fact and wishful fantasy begins to crumble after a few years of disappointment and some…probably to few… ‘miracles’ it must become obvious but comment must be suppressed or at least rationalised in a twisted bias and then the doubts must cripple and increase the internal and possibly by then the eternal battle between fact and fantasy.
    Some tend to flee to the adage of a ‘test of faith’
    Others find no such comfort and the total abandonment of reality is just a step to far.

    You are acting the part and folks want you to pontificate long and wisely on matters spiritual and make believe reverence for a religious meme that never really resolves into physicality.

    Sure folk recover from illness…kids do get found and problems do get solved…sometimes!
    But when things pan out so easy to declare ‘Miracle of jebus christus’…rather then skill of medical science…good detective work and luck….scant reward ultimately.
    But often they do not!
    God and his patsy get lost in the mix and questions get asked like ‘why has this happened?’…’why did god allow this?’ etc etc etc.
    More often then not no answers are possible and a little more personal trust must get leached away from a supernatural fantasy.
    After several years of that belief in the benevolence and the offered unrequited love of a capricious god must wane and wither on the vine and then the problems really start.

    It is not the social work level per se..it is the mask that slips from the disillusionment and the moronic lies required and the expectations to praise continually something that lost its lustre maybe years before!

    Living a lie…stressful and ultimately destructive.

  33. #34 Shplane
    May 20, 2010

    Well, I’d imagine that, in order to be a Pastor, you have to read the Babble, and the more you read the Babble, the more you come to understand how awful Christianity is.

    So I’d guess that a lot of the guys reporting this realize how stupid and hateful their religion is, but can’t easily get out because they’ve made it their job. I can’t think of anything I’d hate more than to have to pretend to be Christian.

  34. #35 Andrew Hall
    May 20, 2010

    What’s interesting is that their god doesn’t seem to be helping them out a whole lot. Look at the stats! I don’t see the Power of Prayer working it’s mojo.
    http://laughinginpurgatory.blogspot.com/

  35. #36 MosesZD
    May 20, 2010

    80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.

    It’s 98% in the first five-years in my field (public accounting) staff leave with 30%, per year, turn-over. Senior staff leave at 32% per year. Managers leave at 24% per year. Heck, even partners, generally those individuals that thirty-five and up with 10 or more years experience in public accounting, turn-over at 6% per year.

    Of course, unlike the preachers, we have a lot of job skills… So we’re not stuck in a career we’ve grown to hate and can take other opportunities. :)

  36. #37 neon-elf.myopenid.com
    May 20, 2010

    50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

    I find that rather sad. It doesn’t sound like they are learning any real counselling skills that could be ported into a secular career. If that is the case, then trying to maintain a counsellor role within the ministry, without adequate training, would be a major source of their stress. There are only so many times you can trot out “God moves in mysterious ways” or “The Lord is testing your faith”, before you start to realise how empty that is for someone in crisis. The pastors must feel like total failures as counsellors. No wonder they are depressed.

  37. #38 MosesZD
    May 20, 2010

    Come on, PZ, you’re a better scientist than that.

    Yes, but that’s not the issue as this wasn’t a “SCIENCE” post. Really, the issue has now become your failure to understand the post as written. Sure, you read the words on the screen. But you’ve missed the meta-narrative which, frankly, I’m too busy to explain to you as I’ve sold my accounting practice to a CPA friend.

    One, ironically, was a preacher who lived with his borderline personality disorder wife until she divorced him. This, of course, caused him to loose his accounting position at David Lipscomb University (a religious college) and to be defrocked by the Church of Christ (preachers can’t get divorced).

    Lucky for him, he had accounting skills and could build his life back up. Lucky for him, he was able to get away from the heavy religion crap and has really come back to earth. He didn’t lose his faith, just became far less of an asshole with it and no longer preaches (or believes in) the hateful rhetoric of the Church of Christ.

    So, anyway, go back and put on your thinking cap. I’m sure it’ll come to you why it’s such a horrible job… And if it doesn’t come to you quite right away… Think what it might be to slowly die of exhaustion and dehydration in a “humane” leg-hold trap.

  38. #39 arduinnae
    May 20, 2010

    I’m surprised that no one (that I’ve seen, anyway) has mentioned the feminist aspects of this.

    Religion comes with a lot of things, and one of them is the inequality of the sexes. If a large enough percentage of those polled are in the more fundamentalist range, it would make a lot of sense to me. The segregation of duties in the home, the lack of respect between spouses, all that has got to wear on the marriage after a while.

    A woman can only submit for so long, and a man can only try to love someone he doesn’t respect for so long before the whole thing starts to collapse.

  39. #40 Rick Miller
    May 20, 2010

    It’s not the worst job in the world, but I agree with other posters who have suggested providing placement services for clergy who want to get out. We should be telling those preachers that they’ve got the people skills and experience to land a legitimate job in management… probably earning a much larger salary.

  40. #41 Rorschach
    May 20, 2010

    Lying to people is a high-stress job ? Forgive me if I don’t feel sorry for them.

    The pastors must feel like total failures as counsellors. No wonder they are depressed.

    I can understand the misery of a factory worker, or social worker or whatever, who realises that his life sucks and he/she hates their job, but if you planned for a future in lying to people and yourself, and you find out in the process that it not only doesnt work for the people you’re meant to make to feel better, but the cognitive dissonance is too much for yourself to stay healthy or happy, then well, you can always try and do something useful with your life while not lying to people.
    Again, not feeling sorry for them.

    Leigh W @ 23,

    Doing that job right requires everything you’ve got: all your time, all your emotional energy, every bit of empathy you have.

    Yeah, sounds like lying for jebus is some exhausting job hey.
    What utter BS.
    There are plenty honest people out there doing all these things, doctors, nurses, social workers, mental health workers, who actually know what they’re doing, don’t give me this shit about the poor priests having an exhausting job smiling, mumbling latin nonsense and showing fake empathy.Gee, how draining that must be.No wonder they have to screw so many altarboys, with all this stress going on.

  41. #42 Cannabinaceae
    May 20, 2010

    A couple we are friends with, who are both ministers, and pretty old, have confessed to me that they’re kind of disappointed they got into religion rather than science. Although I would argue that what they actually got into was business, as their ministry involved selling and renting video and audio resources to churches. They are rather well heeled at this point, and rather enjoying their retirement.

  42. #43 daveau
    May 20, 2010

    According to Norm MacDonald, the worst job in the world used to be “Crack Whore”, but now it’s “Assistant Crack Whore”.

  43. #44 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 20, 2010

    There’s another point to consider. Oral Roberts could extort $8 million from his followers but most clergy are poorly paid. Living hand to mouth is stressful all by itself.

  44. #45 daveau
    May 20, 2010

    Cannabinaceae*@42-

    Although I would argue that what they actually got into was business, as their ministry involved selling and renting video and audio resources to churches.

    I have long thought, and what probably lead to my demise as a xian, that any business, regardless of how altruistic the original intentions are, becomes a business whose goal is self-perpetuation. A total mind shift. Churches were the first entities I realized that about. Whores. (I’m sensing a theme re: 43.)

    *That does mean what I thought it did.

  45. #46 Kirk
    May 20, 2010

    These people are actually intelligent, and relatively well-educated

    Regarding educated, I don’t think so.

    You can cut up a leather boot, go through the motions used in cooking, and produce something that looks like a stew, but I wouldn’t call it food.

    Usually these people have a questionable BA from a questionable “university”, and then the “really educated” ones get an MA in … theology … and then maybe a PhD in … theology.

    And preaching the sermon this Sunday will be Pastor Doctor Snakeoil, who was most recently a post-doctoral candidate at Hubba Bubba University, where he studied the effects of fairy dust on the outcome of prayer. His sermon will be on the subject of praying yourself to give more to this church.

    Educated? Huh uh.

  46. #47 https://me.yahoo.com/a/1z4fCCIqg5ciyPSRxYpRxfv8tvX5aoDzh.FNq7FCY90Iq7I-#801b5
    May 20, 2010

    So…. They’re human, just like everyone else…

  47. #48 theshortearedowl
    May 20, 2010

    Forgive me, but aren’t those figures about average for the white-collar population?

    Lots of middle-class folks in the US hate their jobs, hate their marriages, have affairs, get divorced and get burned out. I don’t see any news here except that Jesus didn’t save them from real life, just like everybody else.

  48. #49 Gus Snarp
    May 20, 2010

    Evangelical Pastors are just like everyone else! Story at 11. But I found the fact that they are differentiating between Evangelical pastors and “liberal” pastors. Are the two mutually exclusive? Can there not be liberal evangelical pastors? Or conservative non-evangelical pastors? And who gets to decide? Whose definition of evangelical is this?

  49. #50 Anubis Bloodsin the third
    May 20, 2010

    47#

    So…. They’re human, just like everyone else…

    Yes they are but with inhuman twisted moralities concerning reality.

    That is what happens when living in a fantasy world with an invisible, incapable and powerless boss…

    They start making their own moralities because they are getting few pointers from HQ…just a few tatty bronze age manuscripts whose central message they have discovered can be subverted to their own desires,intolerances, bigotry and hatreds…that is when the pontificated moralities become twisted.

    That is not human that is cynical and spiteful manipulation of real humans usually against other humans.

  50. #51 Rickety Cricket
    May 20, 2010

    Evangelical Pastors are just like everyone else!

    See, this is exactly what I take away from the story/survey. Isn’t the idea that the lost and disillusioned need a healthy dose of Jesus just as valid as a lost and disillusioned pastor needing a healthy dose of reason?

    Being a member of a congregation (or leading one) does not create an immunity from the average trials of humanity. IMHO, it actually makes it worse.

  51. #52 Joshua Zelinsky
    May 20, 2010

    I’m not sure that these numbers are as bad they seem. Take for example, the 30% adultery rate. This isn’t that far off from the general fraction of married individuals which have had an affair in the US. See http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/research/ak-data.html#extramaritalcoitus

    Without more data about the general fractions for job satisfaction and the like in the general population, this data in isolation doesn’t say very much.

  52. #53 And-U-Say
    May 20, 2010

    “According to Norm MacDonald, the worst job in the world used to be “Crack Whore”, but now it’s “Assistant Crack Whore”.”

    Assistant to the Crack Whore.

  53. #54 And-U-Say
    May 20, 2010

    “So…. They’re human, just like everyone else…”

    Someone missed the point, big time. As is mentioned in the article, these are the people who claim to be “called”. To be specially chosen by the power of god, ready to go out and do battle with satan using the sword and armor of god. These people claim an inside track, a direct line to god and his power. By their own admission, they are NOT supposed to be like everyone else.

    By actually being like everyone else, they show their claims and religion to be a sham. That is the point.

  54. #55 Dianne
    May 20, 2010

    50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.

    Isn’t this just about average? I don’t disagree with the overall post, but am not sure that there’s evidence that evangelic marriages are in worse shape than average. (Though I may be wrong on my memory of divorce statistics.)

  55. #56 jidashdee
    May 20, 2010

    “Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches. ”

    I’d like to believe that number, but it really seems impossibly high. That’s 30 minsters/state/month. At that rate you’d chew through all the graduating classes of all of the evangelical seminaries within about two months of their convocation.

    They must either be including lay pastors, or there’s a month/year typo here.

  56. #57 Darreth
    May 20, 2010

    The stats on the high number of people fighting depression tells me that that is what led them to the ministry in the first place.

    Unfortunately, the desperation these people feel in their lives leads them into a cul-de-sac.

  57. #58 Celtic_Evolution
    May 20, 2010

    Dianne #55

    50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.

    Isn’t this just about average?

    Yes, but worth noting in a group that puts such high value on the “sanctity of marriage”.

    It’s similar to saying that it would be surprising to learn that 20% of Doctors smoke, even though that’s about the national average.

  58. #59 Ben Goren
    May 20, 2010

    It may be apocryphal, but it’s often said that one of the main reasons why some students choose to major in psychology is because they know they’re nuts and they want to heal themselves.

    I could easily see something like that going on with pastors. I’m sure there must be some really messed-up kids who figure that an extra-strong dose of Jesus should get them back on the straight-and-narrow, and how else are they going to score a bigger hit than in seminary?

    Mostly, I just feel sorry for the good, honest people who got suckered into the ministry because their parents and the rest of society successfully sold them the big lie. By the time they come to their senses, they are well and truly fucked. Not only is there the lack of marketable job skills, they’re in a very real and truly debilitating psychological trap. Never underestimate the power of cognitive dissonance; few humans have the ability to break free of its grip, especially when it’s fueled by peer pressure.

    The humane and productive thing to do is to offer a helping hand to lift these people out of their misery. Private and anonymous counseling would have to be the starting point, and it would have to be supported by a network of vocational rehabilitation services completely separate from anything explicitly secular.

    If these people knew that they could get help without anybody finding out, and if that help included graceful ways to transition out of the ministry that didn’t involve going to the Richard Dawkins Center for Priestly Deconversion and Evolutionary Research but instead to nursing school (or the like) on a scholarship, I think we’d see quite the exodus.

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  59. #60 Tualha
    May 20, 2010

    @10
    I agree with A. Nuran; these data are fairly useless without context. The rates could have been the same for the last 30 years, for all we know.

    @13
    Well, one evangelical seems to think they’re on the way out. That’s an opinion piece: one man’s opinion, backed up by some casual observations and not one lick of hard evidence. Of course, some here will be all too ready to believe it, because they like it.

  60. #61 Celtic_Evolution
    May 20, 2010

    Tualha

    Of course, some here will be all too ready to believe it, because they like it.

    Speaking of “one man’s opinion”…

    There’s no “belief” required. Data was provided and an analysis rendered, along with tangential data from another source (Dennett).

    Provide data that states otherwise… make a supported argument… that is if you’re able.

    I’m guessing you won’t. Thanks for the enlightening post, though, I know we’re all better off for having read it.

  61. #62 Joel
    May 20, 2010

    From the CSM article linked above. Shockingly honest word choice from the columnist:

    The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith

    Reading that, I had a flashback to Modern Lit in college on the day we started reading Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Agent.” The professor had a great reading voice, and he coated the words “nominally” and “ostensible” with the most delicious irony:

    Mr Verloc, going out in the morning, left his shop nominally in charge of his brother-in-law. It could be done, because there was very little business at any time, and practically none at all before the evening. Mr Verloc cared but little about his ostensible business. And, moreover, his wife was in charge of his brother-in-law.

  62. #63 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmqD_mcUIrSfOTlK3iGVsnEDcZmI43srbI
    May 20, 2010

    A couple of things.
    1. I agree that calling this group “highly educated” is debatable. Their education is in modern mythology. How much calling is there in the secular world for the finer points on how Zeus sharpens the points of his thunderbolts? Transferability of education seems limited.
    2. I watched one of those reality ER programs a while back, where a little girl was in a coma from drowning in a neighbor’s pool. And the best the pastor could do was pray fervently to god for a miracle “right now”. “Please, right now.” “Right now.” Of course, nothing happened, and the girl eventually died. But the family refused for days to do the right thing and take her off of life support. Because they expected that pastor-promised miracle. So, a little girl was tortured for several days when the medical staff was quite clear in their advice to the family. And I blame the pastor for that torture.
    I have zero, as in zero, sympathy for these people. Make better choices. Go back to school for your MSW, if counseling is your thing. There’s plenty of need.
    And stop pretending your beliefs in mythological creatures gives you special standing.

  63. #64 Anubis Bloodsin the third
    May 20, 2010

    Seems that indeed the point is being missed big time as #54 has pointed ot already.

    Pointing out that the statistics are no different from the rest of society proves the point that so disturbs Pastor Jonathan Falwell.

    These folk ‘claim’ god as their special buddy, in fact ‘claim’ they are on such intimate terms that they are chosen by god to represent him/her/it on planet earth.

    They demand special privileges, they demand respect, they are untouchable, their missions are special, they are tax free.

    Yet they are obviously no more divine, no more special, no more gifted, no more blessed then the average Joe working his/her/its butt off down the local McDonald’s.

    And where is gods mercy to his special disciples?.
    Seems he abandons them as readily as he is prone to abandon anyone else.

    That is the point, they ‘claim’ special privilege, because they are chosen by god, seems that they are not, they are just as mortal as everyone else.

    So much for their special dialogue with their deity, a dialogue they insist is theirs to deliver onto lesser mortals!

    A clearer example of a bogus premise you cannot hope to find!
    They are folks that just ‘claim’ party to supernatural hocus pocus…that is all…that is all it will ever be!
    That is obviously not special, deluded maybe, but not special.

  64. #65 texag98
    May 20, 2010

    About the most these statistics say is that ministers are people too. It also stands to reason when you are on the front lines, so to speak, there are going to be casualties.

    For some reason after reading this post I can’t help but hear the song Dirty Laundry.

  65. #66 mineralfellow
    May 20, 2010

    My father is a Southern Baptist minister. He has a doctorate of ministry from the New Orleans Theological Seminary, where he met my mother. They both genuinely believe what they preach and teach. Neither of them could be generally described as “dumb” or “stupid.” My father has a schedule of people to visit, so that he can visit everyone in the church on about a 3-month rotation without paying too much attention to anybody or leaving anybody out. He does weddings, funerals, visits in the hospital; I have seen scum of the earth people change their lifestyles and becomes (semi) productive citizens through his counseling. He doesn’t make much money for the job (I made more than him last year, and I’m still in grad school).

    He had a church a few years ago that paid him very handsomely (for a pastor), but they did not want him to preach against certain topics, which he did anyway. The church kicked him out (each baptist church chooses its own pastor). He chose to stick with his beliefs rather than a financially lucrative system. That, in itself, is honorable, except that the beliefs he was sticking up for are, in themselves, flawed. I don’t know how to feel about that decision.

    He did suffer from depression for a long time, and now takes anti-depressants. I remember my mother threatening to divorce him on multiple occasions, completely aware of the effect it would have on his career. In the last few years, I have been able to convince him that evolution happens and the earth is old, but we still tiptoe around a number of other issues, and I have not told him that I no longer believe in god.

    From my experience being around preachers at various conventions, mission trips, revival meetings, etc., I have seen that most of them believe what they are preaching. Many even acknowledge their failings, some almost boasting about their faults, and say that this is evidence that they are not saved by their good works, but rather by their faith. “We strive to be christlike,” they say, “but that is not what gets us into heaven.” Preachers are not going to go away, because (especially small-church) preachers tend to come from total immersion within the church so that they never have an opportunity to reason from a non-religious viewpoint.

  66. #67 Cerberus
    May 20, 2010

    Reminds me first of all of ="http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2005/11/lb_the_visitati.html">this slacktivist post, where he quoted a minister about the hell of being a visitation pastor (the ones who essentially hold your hand while dying because they can’t do anything else other than “pray”.

    … people facing death don?t give a fuck about your interpretation of II Timothy. Some take the ?bloodied, but unbowed? road, but most dying people want to pray with the chaplain. And they don?t want weak-ass prayers either. They don?t want you to pray that God?s will be done. …
    I threw myself into it. I prayed holding hands and cradling heads. I prayed with children and old men. I prayed with a man who lost his tongue to cancer. I lent him mine. I prayed my ass off. I had 50 variations of every prayer you could imagine, one hell of a repertoire.

    I started noticing something. When the doctors said someone was going to die, they did. When they said 10 percent chance of survival, about 9 out of 10 died. The odds ran pretty much as predicted by the doctors. I mean, is this praying doing ANYTHING?

    Final nail was this story.

    Thirtysomething. Cute. New mother with two little kids. Breast cancer. Found it too late. Spread all over. Absolutely going to die.
    Jenny had only one request. ?I know I?m going to die, chaplain. I need time to finish this. It’s for my kids. Pray with me that God will give me the strength to finish it.?

    She showed me the needlepoint pillow she was making for her children. It was an ?alphabet blocks and apples? kind of thing. She knew she would not be there for them. Would not drop them off at kindergarten, would not see baseball games, would not help her daughter pick out her first bra. No weddings, no grandkids. Nothing.

    She had this fantasy that her children would cherish this thing — sleep with it, snuggle it. Someday it might be lovingly put on display at her daughter?s wedding. Perhaps there would be a moment of silence. Some part of her would be there.

    I was totally hooked. We prayed. We believed. Jesus, this was the kind of prayer you could believe in. We were like idiots and fools.

    A couple of days later I went to see her only to find the room filled with doctors and nurses. She was having violent convulsions and terrible pain. I watched while she died hard. Real hard.

    As the door shut, the last thing I saw was the unfinished needlepoint lying on the floor.

    So basically I think a lot of what might be hitting them is the impotence of their position. They sell bullshit. In fact, some of the bullshit they sell actually makes life harder than it needs to be for the followers (like telling an abused wife to stay with her partner because “God hates divorce” or that someone should engineer their own rape because they owe that sort of thing to their spouse). This will naturally lead to more sob stories, things revealing the depths humans can sink to and the many ways they can thrash themselves for no reasons, things needing the strength and training in genuine real psychological techniques.

    Techniques which may run counter to the very bullshit you peddle. And the bullshit in its place is merely talking to yourself as you watch bad things happen to good people and the fundamental unjust nature of the world (in terms of lacking any inherently policed morality of its own).

    That’s my theory for the depression, the dropout and the “I’ll never get another job”.

    The relationship stuff is all the lowered amount of feminism. Like genuine family values? Longer, healthier, happier marriages and relationships? Less arguments, less simmering hatred, more love, fewer divorces and affairs?

    You need feminism and an egalitarian and communicatively open habit of communicating with your romantic partner. The “shut up and go through the ‘family values’ motions for Jesus” method most churches sell is actually a good guarantee to end up with the most fucked up relationship dynamics possible and that’s before you add in the stress of trying to conform to gender roles, the “problem without a name” that Betty Friedan wrote about with regards to how being a housewife sucks out your soul, and the way it completely robs a whole list of potentiality out of the male who supposedly benefits from the arrangement.

    But yeah, career impotence and a home ruined by the patriarchy would make for a shitty life and I can see why the numbers would be so bad.

    More importantly, I think these provide a wonderful demonstration against their bullshit that Christianity is necessary for the way it clears away all the psychological problems of life.

    What we need as a society is intense therapy, not continued sucking of the God teat.

  67. #68 SC OM
    May 20, 2010

    The statistics don’t indicate “worst job in the world”. Pretty bad, but cops, dentists, psychiatrists and a number of others have it worse on a bunch of counts.

    You’re trying to come up with the worst job in the world (based on an exceedingly literal reading of a title, I may add), and that’s what you come up with? Prostitutes, miners, migrant farmworkers, slaughterhouse workers, cleaners of any number of places, shipbreakers, sweatshop garment workers,…? But I’m sure they’re happy they’re not cops, dentists, or psychiatrists.

  68. #69 Cerberus
    May 20, 2010

    Damn sorry for the runaway tag there everyone

  69. #70 mineralfellow
    May 20, 2010

    @63:

    I watched one of those reality ER programs a while back, where a little girl was in a coma from drowning in a neighbor’s pool. And the best the pastor could do was pray fervently to god for a miracle “right now”. “Please, right now.” “Right now.” Of course, nothing happened, and the girl eventually died. But the family refused for days to do the right thing and take her off of life support. Because they expected that pastor-promised miracle. So, a little girl was tortured for several days when the medical staff was quite clear in their advice to the family. And I blame the pastor for that torture.

    A pastor doing that is making a mistake. There is a real purpose to a pastor praying with a family in the hospital; it comforts the family. More intelligent pastors usually pray something along the lines of “whatever your will is, let it be done, and we will accept your decision.” That kind of stuff actually makes people feel better, for some reason.

    As for education, there is a real education, but I think it is closest to a literature degree, or maybe some mixture of literature, history, psychology, and sociology, but not taught as formal subjects (except history). Many also are proficient language scholars, able to read ancient Greek or Hebrew as it if were their native language. Not all of these are colored by godsause, either; as a poster previously mentioned, many go to seminary as atheists, and many seminary profs are atheists. The problem they have is the same as an english major with a PhD dissertation on Yeates: there are extremely few jobs where it has application.

  70. #71 phantomreader42
    May 20, 2010

    theshortearedowl @ #48:

    Forgive me, but aren’t those figures about average for the white-collar population?

    Lots of middle-class folks in the US hate their jobs, hate their marriages, have affairs, get divorced and get burned out. I don’t see any news here except that Jesus didn’t save them from real life, just like everybody else.

    Yes, those figures are about average. These peole claim to have a direct line to the motherfucking creator of the whole damn UNIVERSE! They set themselves up as moral authorities. They stand in front of a congregation of people who think they’re god’s representatives on Earth, and screech about how evil, evil, evil everyone outside their cult is. But when you look at the actual statistics, they’re not any better than anyone else. They claimed to be better, but they were lying through their teeth. If their propaganda was actually TRUE, we’d expect to see BETTER morality from these self-appointed speakers for the almighty. We don’t see anything at all like that.

  71. #72 Tualha
    May 20, 2010

    @61:
    I was referring to the text of @13 and the opinion piece cited therein:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2009/0310/p09s01-coop.html

  72. #73 Antiochus Epiphanes
    May 20, 2010

    Protestant clergy, I’m not so familiar with. But having grown up surrounded by priests and brothers* in a heavily Catholic culture, I am of the opinion that they have it relatively soft compared to the average working joe. Seriously. All of their needs are provided regardless of performance. Then there’s the sex without consequences. On top of that, the average parish priest has mountains of free-time compared to the average working parent. I remember specifically before serving at Saturday evening masses, I would report to the rectory to help father X with whatever trivial task had to be completed before mass was served–the priests that weren’t saying mass would be sitting around drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and watching baseball. They all had hobbies. On the other hand, my father worked most weekends, and when he wasn’t at work, he was busy fixing up the house, paying bills, doing yardwork, etc. I remember being ten years old, and sitting next to my exhausted Daddy-O in church, and watching with disgust as he dropped his weekly tribute into the basket, before falling back to sleep.

    Then for a while, I changed my mind and decided that I might want to go to seminary to become a monk. I have never believed in god, but the lifestyle looked attractive to me: geological quantities of alone-time, enforced silence, and access to libraries–all the things a nerd craves**. My family would have supported the decision in all probability (with maybe the exception of my da).

    *It was much less exciting than it would sound.
    **I admit that celibacy didn’t sound like such a bad trade-off, because my teen years were pretty strictly celibate anyway, and nothing on my horizon indicated that my abstinent condition was ever to change. Regardless of my investment in things like cologne, altoids, bola ties, and hair-gel.

  73. #74 daveau
    May 20, 2010

    JamesF@8-

    It’s the gays’ fault!!!

    Your whole diatribe reminds me of a story. A good friend of mine from NDSU married his High School sweetheart. They both became ministers. In Oklahoma. (Lutheran or Methodist or something; I can’t keep my cults straight.) Anyhow, after 20 years of marriage and 2 kids, it turns out that she likes women a lot more than men. They’re divorced now, and she has been excommunicated, or whatever the equivalent is; ie, she had to get another job. But she’s much happier now that she’s not living a lie. Two lies, really.

  74. #75 Gus Snarp
    May 20, 2010

    @And-U-Say, @Anubis Bloodsin the third I don’t think we (or at least not I) have missed that point, what I’m saying (and I think others are saying) is that all these statistics just show that pastors are like everyone else, and that Evangelicals shouldn’t be surprised. Of course they are because of everything you’ve mentioned, I’m just saying they’re stupid for expecting pastors to magically be different from everyone else. In other words comments like

    You mean they’re actually NORMAL human beings and not anointed ministers, preordained by God? No fuckin way…

    So…. They’re human, just like everyone else…

    and

    Evangelical Pastors are just like everyone else! Story at 11.

    Should more or less be read as snide comments toward evangelicals who are surprised to learn these things, though I suppose the other writers could be aiming more at PZ than I am, that’s how I read it. But I suppose that while brevity is the soul of wit, there are occasions where it is not the soul of clarity.

  75. #76 Cerberus
    May 20, 2010

    SC @68

    Interesting to note about prostitutes is that a good number of them enter in owing to having fled abusive homes or to try and assert some control over their lives in recovery from intense abuse (for the “call girl” set with greater freedom of control). The most notable of these forms of abuse being incest, that would be rape by a family member, often an authority figure such as the main male caregiver.

    So no matter how bad it can get on the streets, they see it as psychologically less horrific than having to “go home” (this is not necessarily a universal for all sex workers, nor does it account for those who get hooked on drugs and end up using the sex work to cover the drugs in a sort of “gone too far to go back” sort of deal).

    The psychologist comparison they tried to use though is an interesting one, because a pastor is basically a combination of two things:

    1) A power mad dictator dominating his flock and assuring their emotional and psychological adolescence in order to control them. A con man playing a dangerous game with the lives of those under his command.

    And more sympathetically, 2) an amateur psychologist trying to provide genuine therapeutic counseling without the requisite training and with a bad set of rules short circuiting his best efforts. Having needed to learn a similar set of techniques “on the fly” and way out of my depth in helping my partner recover from her past, I can see how stressful that would be to have to take care of multiple people, including ones with lives that truly rend the heart strings.

    Of course, my poorly formatted post above gets into what I think are the sources of the main psychological frustrations.

  76. #77 texag98
    May 20, 2010

    @ #70

    many go to seminary as atheists, and many seminary profs are atheists. The problem they have is the same as an english major with a PhD dissertation on Yeates: there are extremely few jobs where it has application.

    That would largely depend on the institution. I seriously doubt that many if any of the professors at my alma mater were atheists, but then I went to a school that required their professors to also be pastors rather than pure academics.

  77. #78 Bride of Shrek OM
    May 20, 2010

    50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.

    .not that far above the national average anyhow.

    The divorce rate for lawyers is about 60% apparently but, quite frankly, we’re generally arseholes and I wouldn’t want to be married to one either.

  78. #79 Celtic_Evolution
    May 20, 2010

    mineralfellow –

    There is a real purpose to a pastor praying with a family in the hospital; it comforts the family.

    Mmm… I don’t buy this… I think that “comfort” lies in the belief of divine intervention, even up to the last moment. It’s still peddling false hope, even if done with the noblest intentions.

    More intelligent pastors usually pray something along the lines of “whatever your will is, let it be done, and we will accept your decision.”

    The pastor may say this, but the family is listening with the hope that “his will” is to intervene with a miracle. I think this adds to the psychological trauma, for this reason:

    That kind of stuff actually makes people feel better, for some reason.

    It may, initially, but it also often creates an additional level of trauma, after the loss of a loved one, with the survivors then going into anger spirals and fits of despair because “god abandoned them and their family”.

    In my opinion, that’s a level of psychological trauma that would not exist without a lifetime of indoctrination and belief that god can and does intervene on behalf of those who “really believe”. It’s toxic and harmful, spending an entire life being sold that bill of goods. If people were taught from an early age to accept life for what it is, and accept that divine intervention will not save us or those we love from the inevitable, we’d be better able to cope. We’d still suffer the trauma of loss, but I firmly believe it’s made worse by the hopeless belief in divine intervention.

  79. #80 Celtic_Evolution
    May 20, 2010

    tualha #72 –

    to which your data-supported counter-argument is?

    I was referring to your whole post whereby you hand-wavingly dismissed the entire set of data as essentially useless.

  80. #81 mmelliott01
    May 20, 2010

    I wonder what the stats would be for Catholic Priests.

    Clearly the situation would be altared.

    (I wish just once I could catch one of these threads at its inception…)

  81. #82 robinsrule
    May 20, 2010

    They [Baptist pastors] weren’t flim-flam men…

    Just marks caught up in the scam.

  82. #83 "Roger"
    May 20, 2010

    Quoting #23:
    The two Baptist pastors I’ve known well both burned out. Neither lost their belief in God, but oh, they were so tired.

    Doing that job right requires everything you’ve got: all your time, all your emotional energy, every bit of empathy you have. Both these guys were at the hospital, at the funeral home, by the sickbeds, at the homes of their shut-ins, in their offices counseling, available by phone all the time. They poured oil on troubled waters, moderated fights in the congregation, tried to preach sermons that would help their congregants deal with life (and amazingly succeeded!), worked on projects for the community like job programs, were students of human nature, read constantly (yes, they read the Bible too). It was a 24X7 job for them.

    You know, there’s a Chick tract that deals with that.

    Funnier than hell. I like the overworked pastor in the seventh panel (including the text saying that it’s for xians only!) down.

  83. #84 Aquaria
    May 20, 2010

    To all of you idiots missing the point:

    Read the fucking comments before making the exact same retarded comment 20 other people already have about how these stats are just like those for the rest of the sinners.

    You’re not thinking this through, So STFU, read the thread, and maybe–just maybe–you’ll understand the point.

    Dumbfucks.

    Ah, Jesus, never mind.

    PZ, you’re gonna have to add an update for the slow kids and the funditards.

    They don’t seem to understand how those who are supposed to be the representatives of God’s will on earth, who think they have the right to dictate other people’s morality and actions, that GawdLawdJeeeeesus channels the answers through them, all cuz Gaawwwdsezso, are in no fucking place to do it because they’re aren’t any more moral or clued in to the answers than the rest of us.

    They’re hypocrites, and they know it. That’s likely a big part of why there’s so much depression and burnout in that profession.

    What part of hypocrisy do all these epic fails of inference on this thread not fucking getdo these brain dead toads not get?

    Obviously none of it.

    You have to spell it out for the idiots, using very small words and plenty of space in between each one (the internet equivalent of matching the tempo of speech to the mental capacity–i.e.slowwwww. Maybe try a Dick and Jane sized font. They have recent experience with it, I’m sure.

  84. #85 raven
    May 20, 2010

    I’m not sure that these numbers are as bad they seem. Take for example, the 30% adultery rate. This isn’t that far off from the general fraction of married individuals which have had an affair in the US.

    Yeah, they do seem pretty average.

    But these are moral authorities of our society, (supposedly). They are the ones who tell us what is right and wrong and how to behave and all that. They tell us who we are supposed to hate.

    One would expect them to be less hypocritical and “immoral” than the general population.

    These are the same jerks who rant on endlessly about the evil gays, and hating gays, and it’s all the gays fault their marriage failed after they “counseled” that hot chick once too often. These are the same low lifes who claim that gay marriages threaten their and other marriages, without any proof or reason that this happens then that it was the elves in the birdhouse.

    These are the same fuckwits who claim the earth is 6,000 years old, everything that isn’t the fault of the gays is the fault of the evolutionists and scientists, and …………well, I’m running out of electrons here but you know.

    Xian are no better than the general population. Many, such as the more toxic fundie varieties are far, far worse. So why in the hell does anyone call religion “good”. It’s not. From the stats in PZs OP, this extends to the leadership. Surprise!!! We already knew that from Haggard, Rekers, Falwell, Kennedy, Hagee, and the other vaguely humanoid toad leadership.

  85. #86 Aquaria
    May 20, 2010

    Ah JFC, wtf is with the html fail and the cut & paste fail?

    Sorry for that. This head injury must be worse than I thought!

  86. #87 Brownian, OM
    May 20, 2010

    They don’t seem to understand how those who are supposed to be the representatives of God’s will on earth, who think they have the right to dictate other people’s morality and actions, that GawdLawdJeeeeesus channels the answers through them, all cuz Gaawwwdsezso, are in no fucking place to do it because they’re aren’t any more moral or clued in to the answers than the rest of us.

    Is this why they hate the atheists so? “Why, those atheists are just like us, but they’re not guilty about it.”

  87. #88 "Roger"
    May 20, 2010

    You know, this is not all good news:

    The ascendency of Charismatic-Pentecostal-influenced worship around the world can be a major positive for the evangelical movement if reformation can reach those churches and if it is joined with the calling, training, and mentoring of leaders. If American churches come under more of the influence of the movement of the Holy Spirit in Africa and Asia, this will be a good thing.

    It looks like they consider the pentecostals to be a different group of christians than the evangelicals. The pentecostals are actually worse!

  88. #89 samilobster
    May 20, 2010

    The worst job in the world

    On an all new Dirty Jobs Mike Rowe handles the complaints hotline at a Catholic boy’s school…

  89. #90 Anubis Bloodsin the third
    May 20, 2010

    It just seems the moralistic framework these bastions of theistic juris prudence proclaim are not in fact what god ‘really really wants!’

    Otherwise he/her/it would insure that his /hers/its ambassadors to Earth would be the shining beacon that would act as a template for the rest of society to emulate.
    That is not the case apparently.
    There lifestyle choices makes very little difference to their fate as compared to the hoi paloy they preach to every Sunday!

    Seems that supernatural ‘evidence’ for any divinity in a god bothering lifestyle is only apparent by a lamentable absence!
    Somebody should really inform them…

    Righteousness = ur-doin-it-wrong!

  90. #91 Aquaria
    May 20, 2010

    Is this why they hate the atheists so? “Why, those atheists are just like us, but they’re not guilty about it.”

    One of the reasons, yes. For those who have seen atheists as some form of human being anyway. For they who haven’t…

    I can’t turn off enough brain cells to think like the mouth foamers who don’t think we’re human.

  91. #92 fireweaver
    May 20, 2010

    Ex-pastor Ken Pulliam wrote: “The very name of the conference is interesting– Refuel . Why is it that Christians have to constantly be refueled and recharged in order to keep going? Why do they have to be reminded all of the time that their God is real?”

    Simple. You can’t go very far on bullshit. Believing bullshit takes a tremendous amount of effort, and when you hate everything the way the fundies and evangelicals appear to do, it can wear you down. Same for any other kind of fanaticism.

    (comment also posted there.)

  92. #93 Anubis Bloodsin the third
    May 20, 2010

    #90

    Otherwise he/her/it would insure that his /hers/its ambassadors to Earth would be the shining beacon that would act as a template for the rest of society to emulate.
    That is not the case apparently.

    Actually to be fair…maybe society is indeed following the lifestyle of the ‘holier then thou’s'…now that would be a dilemma.

    Well it would be another way to explain the apparent similarity in statistics !..;-)

  93. #94 SteveM
    May 20, 2010

    Sorry to go off-topic but I did find this amusing:

    57% said they would leave if they had a better place to go?…

    When you think about it, why wouldn’t everyone leave their current job if they had a better place to go?

  94. #95 Pierce R. Butler
    May 20, 2010

    18K pastors/yr leaving “the ministry” (not just a particular church, but the whole professional-Jesus-pusher gig)?

    There are reportedly 335,000 churches in the USA, so if the rate holds steady we’ll be church-free by 2030. (One, two, three: “Woo Hoo!”)

    But there are also reportedly – see above link, scroll down – about 600,000 clergy in the US (including chaplains, retirees, seminary faculty, & others without pulpits), so we may not find deliverance until 2044.

    Of course, if that 18K figure includes only right-wing evangelicals, the total dropout rate must be higher – but then, if there were any substance to that number, the professional atheists would have a lot more stats than those who answer “none” to religion surveys to gloat over.

    It says here that

    A new [2008] study finds that only 1 percent of U.S. religious congregations go out of existence each year, “which is among the lowest mortality rates ever observed for any type of organization,” according to an article to be published in the June issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

    We may have to leave the champagne in the cellar a bit longer, darlings.

  95. #96 CanadianChick
    May 20, 2010

    Before the explosion of the pedophile scandal, fairly good sociological research was done in Chicago on the relative satisfaction of priests vs Protestant clergy and generally speaking priests were happier and more fulfilled than ministers – in part because they DIDNT have to juggle the demands of an all-encompassing occupation and a family.

    I would suspect that the number has gone down as more priests become disillusioned with Romes reaction to the pedophile crisis and the election of Ratzi, who I believe was generally disapproved of by North American priests.

  96. #97 naddyfive
    May 20, 2010

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, so I hope I’m not reiterating points already made here.

    But isn’t this excellent proof that even the most open-ended, liberal accounts of why people believe in God are totally off-base?

    The idea that people have a deep-seated need for God, without whom they will be woefully depressed and hopeless, is obviously a big lie. Or bad propaganda. Or at least a fundamentally warped perception of reality.

    If not even God’s finest are happy, then what the hell is the point of believing? Believers’ big sell is how much happier and more hopeful they are because they have a supernatural friend. Looks like they’ve got exactly nothing to work with anymore.

  97. #98 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlAxSNZKWtwGCAE5O9KkiJdb4eMFPZ6j5o
    May 20, 2010

    As a former youth minister I will give you my opinion.
    Evangelicals believe some weird shit and most of the time, just due to the odds, they don’t encounter faith challenging circumstances; at least for many years. So, they can believe really stupid shit and not be troubled by it.
    Pastors, however, encounter contradictions to their beliefs damn near daily and very soon it becomes evident that their world view is wrong, very wrong.
    What do they do?
    They either have a crisis of faith, which is what one would expect if the pastor was a normal, decent person with a heart, or they can move away from the flock both physically and emotionally so as not to be troubled by the dichotomy between reality and theology. Examples of the later would be mega church leaders who delegate pastoral duties to junior pastors. This way they don’t have to face seeing god letting them down all the time.
    That, however, is a stall tactic that doesn’t work either as evidenced by the parade of perps that seems endemic to the evangelical faith.
    I saw, early on, the divide between the real and the ideal and made a choice for real life and left the ministry. Those who choose to tough it out will be vexed by every unanswered prayer, every tornado that rips through a school full of children, every success of an ungodly man or women while good people go hungry and loose their jobs.
    They will ask, “Why did you let her die?”, or say, “Blessed are the poor, my ass!” every time one of their cherished beliefs is proven wrong. And it only gets worse.
    Those of you who see these statistics as an indictment against these pastors are correct, because they see it the exact same way. Only, it just may take a while to surface.

  98. #99 kiyaroru
    May 20, 2010

    Antiochus Epiphanes #73

    investment in things like cologne, altoids, bola ties, and hair-gel

    gad, I’m swooning. I wish I’d known you then!

  99. #100 Eamon Knight
    May 20, 2010

    For another example of the suckitude that is fundy clericaldom, pop over to Red Headed Skeptic and read her story.

    My own anecdote: at age 15 I got fundy religion and joined a Church of Christ (I’m all better now, thanks). The minister lived in the manse across the street along with his wife, two kids, and a 20yo college student (also a member of the congregation) who rented a room in the basement. About five years later, the minister’s marriage broke up, and he resigned. Fortunately for him, he had a Masters degree in Counselling, so he was able to get a job in the correctional system.

    His ex-wife? She got re-married — to the college student who used to live in the basement. ‘Nuf said.

  100. #101 johnlil#0a224
    May 20, 2010

    Is this any really different from being a chiropractor? It’s a living. Sooner or later every DC must realize most illnesses are caused by germs, not subluxations. But they don’t give up the gig.

  101. #102 Mattir
    May 20, 2010

    This is another reason why accommodationists can stop yammering about how science and religion are compatible and simply talk passionately about science. It’s virtually impossible, at least in the United States, to isolate oneself so completely from society as to be unaware (or keep one’s homeschooled teen kids from becoming aware) of the real world of science and opportunity. Just standing out of the way talking about science and allowing reality to have an impact, as it seems to do for the pastors surveyed, is enough.

    The stats actually seem pretty comparable to my own experience of non-profit employees generally – highly idealistic people who want to change the world are often disappointed. (Or, to put it more succinctly, expectations breed disappointment.)

  102. #103 A. Nuran
    May 20, 2010

    To all the knee-jerkers who reflexively responded to me by yanking out their withered little glands and waving them around

    I’m on your side, you scabrous defensive cum blotches!

    I read the fucking and probably understood it better than you did.

    If you just want to hoot and moon at the Bad Strangers feel free. You’re about at the same level as a developmentally delayed baboon or a Limbaugh fan. I’m sure there’s a collection of fart jokes out there which will be about your speed.

    If you want to actually draw some sort of conclusion about the state of the gospel grinders you need to compare the numbers to something meaningful. How do they compare to demographically similar men? How do they compare to preachers ten, twenty or a hundred years ago? If you don’t ask these questions you’re as much of a cock-socket as the opposition.

  103. #104 naddyfive
    May 20, 2010

    A. Nuran sez:

    “If you want to actually draw some sort of conclusion about the state of the gospel grinders you need to compare the numbers to something meaningful…If you don’t ask these questions you’re as much of a cock-socket as the opposition.”

    Explain why.

    I can see how the general population’s stats would be a good means for comparison. It definitely adds another dimension to the idea that religious people aren’t more moral than anyone else.

    But the point people here are making is that even those are irrelevant, based on the fact that religious people *claim* to have a direct line to the Creator of the Universe. They are constantly griping about how unbelievers are bad for divorcing, for cheating, giving up hope in eternal life. Shouldn’t their faith make their lives eaiser, better, and markedly more moral? They’re always claiming it does. But it clearly doesn’t.

  104. #105 Ichthyic
    May 20, 2010

    “According to Norm MacDonald, the worst job in the world used to be “Crack Whore”, but now it’s “Assistant Crack Whore”.”

    maybe, but at least that means the economy is growing…

    ;P

  105. #106 Zoot Capri
    May 20, 2010

    Okay, so how about the unfettered POWER these jackasses have over their “flock”. They stand in front of their devoted following week after week with everyone in the congregation on pins and needles waiting in bated anticipation for their sermon….They hold sway over the people and can get a tremendous hard on from that.

    AND if you don’t mind, ditch the crack whore comments. Those poor women by and large come from disastrous families and are usually sexual abuse victims…So be thankful you are one of the lucky ones, you are not in the street…