The Humanist Hour #81: The Clergy Project

A new episode of the Humanist Hour is available for listening. Keep reading to find out about the guest on this month’s show.


In this month’s podcast, Todd Stiefel’s co-host is Margaret Downey. Together they interview three representatives of the Clergy Project, acting Executive Director Catherine Dunphy, Jerry Dewitt and Teresa MacBain.

The Clergy Project

The Clergy Project is an online home that provides “a safe haven for active and former clergy who do not hold supernatural beliefs.” Catherine, Jerry and Teresa are just three of more than 400 members of this growing community that just marked its two-year anniversary on March 21. In order to maintain anonymity, membership is only available to those who have been invited.

The resources of the Clergy Project include not only offering a way for clergy members (and former members) to communicate with and support one another, but also a program to help members find secular employment, as well as a quick path to become a humanist celebrant through the AHA’s Humanist Society.

Listen as Catherine, Teresa and Jerry tell their very personal stories to Todd and Margaret, revealing the joys and hardships of making the transition from a religious believer preaching from behind the pulpit to a nonbelieving secular citizen making a new path for themselves.

Also listen when Todd and Margaret fill you in on the incredible success of the partnership between the Foundation Beyond Belief and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, raising $430,000 through last year’s Light the Night Walk program. Those looking to help with this continuing effort, visit the Foundation Beyond Belief’s LLS web page.

Margaret Downey, co-host

Margaret DowneyMargaret Downey is the founder of the Freethought Society, the Anti-Discrimination Support Network and the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee. She owns Secular Celebrations, a company offering secular celebrant services, has been published in two books, Parenting Beyond Belief and 50 Voices of Disbelief, and is a past board member of the AHA, the Humanist Institute, and the Thomas Paine National Historical Association. She served as president of Atheist Alliance International for two years and is a current board member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Scouting for All and the Advisory Board of the Robert Green Ingersoll Museum. In 2007, Margaret designed the Tree of Knowledge. Margaret has been a guest on NPR, ABC’s “Nightline,” PBS and Fox News.

Catherine Dunphy

Caterine DunphyCatherine Dunphy is the acting Executive Director for the Clergy Project. She is a former Roman Catholic chaplain who left the church when she recognized that she was no longer a believer. Catherine completed both an undergraduate and master’s degree in theology. As one of the original 52 members of the project, Catherine has been volunteering to help organize The Clergy Project from the beginning. She is a screener and a member of the volunteer Board of Directors and she is actively working on projects to benefit Clergy Project members. Catherine is a communications professional who never looked back once she left the church.

Teresa MacBain

Teresa MacBainTeresa MacBain, who will be speaking at the AHA’s 72nd Annual Conference, holds the distinction of being the first female graduate of The Clergy Project, an invitation-only “safe house” of current and former ministers who no longer hold the supernatural beliefs of their religious traditions. She became a non-believer after more than 20 years of ministry. Teresa is currently serving as acting executive director for the Humanists of Florida Association and sits on the board of the Clergy Project. Teresa’s media appearances include CNN’s “Sunday Morning,” NPR, “The Alan Colmes Show,” “The O’Reilly Factor,” USA Today and the Washington Post. Her first book is due to be released this year.

Jerry Dewitt

Jerry DeWittJerry Dewitt’s ministry began at age seventeen. He began his career as an evangelist and assistant pastor in three Pentecostal churches. Later he held the pastorate of two fundamentalist congregations. After more than twenty-five years of ministry he realized he had become an atheist. Jerry is the executive director of Recovering from Religion and is also the first graduate of the Clergy Project. Jerry volunteers his time with the Clergy Project as a screener, committee and board member.


Links from this month’s episode:

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Music from this month’s episode (in order of appearance):