AMEN, Jerry DeWitt

Skepticism is my Nature,

Freethought is my Methodology,

Agnosticism is my Conclusion,

Atheism is my Opinion,

and Humanism is my Motivation,

 –   Jerry DeWitt, Hope After Faith

Jerry DeWitt

Jerry DeWitt’s ministry began when he was seventeen. After twenty-five years of preaching, including pastor-ship of two fundamentalist congregations, he became an atheist.”

I’d bounced from denomination to denomination, from a literal bible interpretation to an embrace of Christianity as metaphor and I’d finally reached the conclusion of that quest: I was looking at an atheist standing there looking in the mirror. It was a painful realization…”

– Hope After Faith, (purchase here):

Since my own exit from licensed ministry with the United Pentecostal Church International and embracing my skeptical nature which led me on a similar path many ministers take to agnostic atheism, I have scarce been able to relate to someone else’s journey the way I have in learning the story of Jerry DeWitt’s experience. Reading Hope After Faith, I found what I had already learned about Jerry DeWitt from reading about him and his story and seeing him online as I visit sites like Recovering From Religion and The Atheist Experience was only the beginning of parallels I’ve found between his journey and my own.  RR  I only wish this book had been available and the resources known to me that I’ve since found for transitioning to a reason-based worldview after a lifetime of guilt-driven and superstitious fear-mongering had brainwashed me so bad as to warp my view of reality well into my adulthood. Though the ‘oneness’ I feel with Jerry’s experience, which should give anyone who experiences a similar journey some level of comfort, is a welcome ‘balm of Gilead;’ I so wish I had known I was not so lonely in my journey after all, and only a few short years ago. This makes Hope After Faith an important book for any of us who have felt the anguish of what it is like to have such an earth-shattering crisis of conscience with so much potential to up-end one’s entire reality. After one has invested so much in one’s own faith as to even be involved as a minister of that faith, it is very much like being blind-sided and having the rug pulled out from under you in every way imaginable when knowledge reveals to you the immaturity of and harm caused by putting faith in a fantastical myth like god.

Jerry’s autobiographical piece is a pleasure for any apostate like me, and full of personal accounts any seasoned minister with enough courage to be introspectively honest for a moment would recognize warrants serious contemplative pause. In reading Hope After Faith, I could draw from my own life-long experiences growing up around small country churches to picture the ones Jerry mentions, and many of the characters and personalities therein associated, with knowing and relatable insight. There were also many wise insights which speak to Jerry’s self-described growth beyond faith in lines from this book such as, “I didn’t have to answer anything, I am me and that’s all that matters.” One of the most poignant moments for me in the book came in Jerry’s telling about the rebuke that came when being fired upon his employer finding out Jerry had his picture taken with fellow atheist Richard Dawkins, and the ignorantly judgmental patronizing comment made to Jerry by someone who claimed to be his friend about how god has Jerry poised for a “road to Damascus” experience. Although the entire book is worth the time, it is actually in the Epilogue that the reader can find some of the best meat in regards to Jerry’s analytical path of critical thought which brought him to his present belief system. And the progression of this decades-long process is mirrored in the chronology of chapters in Hope After Faith. This outline of logical progression reflected in the chapters is so telling and concise in itself that they seem to me to make it well worth listing here:

DeWitt Project

  1. God Loves Everyone

  2. God Saves Everyone

  3. God Is In Everyone

  4. God Is Everyone’s Internal Dialogue

  5. God Is A Delusion

Not to be left hopeless or in failure to deliver the ‘good news’ about a new-found knowledge and truth in the atheist perspective, Jerry offers quite the encouraging mantra for those of us who have transitioned to a more secular and humanistic worldview in the final pages of his intellectually honest transcript. “Freed from religion, which forces me to sacrifice my own identity and values, my values become my own. That’s the hope. By forcing my way to freedom, I’ll set a positive example for the next generation, and I’ll feel a hope for them that they will not live an existence characterized by cultural servitude but instead walk into a life of true individual freedom of self-expression.”

Amen, Jerry DeWitt. Amen, and preach it brother!

Paul Fest

 A.G. House is an Afghanistan war veteran and former licensed minister (UPCI), who has become an outspoken skeptic, peace activist, and involved himself in many other issues which he believes affect the individual freedoms of the people whose Constitutional Rights he took an oath to defend. He currently resides in the heart of Tennessee with his companion dog ‘Liberty,’ where he is recovering from PTSD and enjoys the therapeutic activities of gardening, creative writing, playing drum set, and other forms of artistic expression   \m/

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