William Lobdell, staff reporter for the LA Times, writes about how covering the religion beat for the newspaper cost him his faith. He lobbied hard for the job and then was confronted by an endless parade of child molesting priests, outcast Mormons whose only sin was not being Mormon enough and worst of all, Benny Hinn. It’s a sad story because you see in William Lobdell what you see in a lot of people these days. They desperately want to believe in God as away to give structure and meaning to their lives, to do good deeds and use their faith a s a motivation for creating positive change. But then reality set sin. They see how people let themselves be used by church leaders for the usual pathetic power games, or worse, to cover up and excuse their own twisted, all too human hearts:
On a Sunday morning at a parish in Rancho Santa Margarita, I watched congregants lobby to name their new parish hall after their longtime pastor, who had admitted to molesting a boy and who had been barred that day from the ministry. I felt sick to my stomach that the people of God wanted to honor an admitted child molester. Only one person in the crowd, an Orange County sheriff’s deputy, spoke out for the victim.
On Good Friday 2002, I decided I couldn’t belong to the Catholic Church. Though I had spent a year preparing for it, I didn’t go through with the rite of conversion.
I understood that I was witnessing the failure of humans, not God. But in a way, that was the point. I didn’t see these institutions drenched in God’s spirit. Shouldn’t religious organizations, if they were God-inspired and -driven, reflect higher standards than government, corporations and other groups in society?
I found an excuse to skip services that Easter. For the next few months, I attended church only sporadically. Then I stopped going altogether.
Luckily, Mr. Lobdell realized that faith was a crutch propping up institutions that have neither God nor people’s needs in mind, but are just corrupt organizations designed to make money and control the week and desperate. And he walked away. he decided that he didn’t have to be part of that system. It may make it harder to be a force for positive change in the world without an established apparatus with all its infrastructure and support to fall back on but it is still possible. Hopefully, Mr. Lobdell will see that and maybe help us Atheists make some noise and spread some of his hard-won reason and knowledge.
Link via Amanda at Pandagon.