A former Methodist pastor spoke publicly for the first time Saturday 4-21-12 since coming out as an Atheist.
Teresa MacBain was part of a panel that spoke at the Humanist of Florida Association's North Regional Conference. MacBain left her position as pastor at the Lake Jackson United Methodist in Tallahassee last month 3-30.
"As a pastor, it was especially hard on her coming out of that extremely religious community and those people who had come to see her in a certain way and now having to understand that well in reality she has come to believe over a long period of time some very different things," says Mark Palmer of the Humanist of Florida Association.
Palmer says the conference dealt with issues within the Atheist Community and allowed people to share their various perspectives. He says another conference is planned for September in Lakeland.
Tallahassee, Fl -- 4/5/12
"It's like coming out as a homosexual."
A friend of a former minister compares that experience to becoming an atheist.
Teresa MacBain left a local Methodist church as it's pastor recently.
She now says she's an atheist.
Now a friend is supporting her decision.
Mark Palmer is an atheist. He's also a close friend of Teresa Macbain's--The Tallahassee pastor who announced last week she was an atheist. Palmer has a similar story. He was a Mormon minister until 6 years ago. He too decided he didn't believe in God.
"It was a multi-year long process, you don't just wake up one day and say all this stuff I've been taught my whole life... lets bin it," said "Tallahassee Atheist" founder Mark Palmer.
He compares the process of admitting your an atheist to "coming out" as a homosexual.
"If you're concerned about... if I'm simply honest about my sexual orientation then I'll stand to loose my friends, lose my family, lose my job, its a similar experience," said Palmer.
He says Macbain never thought her announcement at the Atheist Convention last week, would strike up controversy.
"I am very offended that Christians would see that as some kind of slap in the face to them, they're irrelevant to her being at an atheist convention," said Palmer.
As for the Lake Jackson Methodist members Macbain has preached to for the past 3 years, Palmer says they should be fine.
"Teresa is a good and loving and beautiful person and if they were leading their lives in a way that she would approve of, I can't believe she was leading them too far astray," said Palmer.
We have new video today of that Tallahassee Methodist minister turned atheist.
Teresa MacBain first made headlines two days ago. We now have footage of the former pastor publicly proclaiming she doesn't believe in God.
"You were the ones who were going to burn in hell, and I'm happy to say, as I stand before you, I'm going to burn with you," said MacBain.
Teresa MacBain was a pastor at Lake Jackson Methodist in Tallahassee until she resigned last week. Her reason: She didn't believe in God. This is her "coming out " with the news at an atheist conference on March 26th.
"I was one of those crazy fundamentalists, right wingers, haters...that's the only word I can use for it," said Macbain.
As for the Congregation MacBain is leaving behind, members say they're shocked, but they still have faith.
"God Allows u-turns. We are praying for Teresa. Maybe in the future she will come back," said Methodist superintendent Antonio Fernandez.
In MacBain's speech, she says she had been a Christian for 44 years. Her father was a Baptist preacher.
"I want to apologize for verbally abusing you [atheists] from the pulpit. For using the pulpit as a bully pulpit to just hate," said MacBain.
She was embraced and cheered for by the crowd. But, despite the support, MacBain expressed concern about life after the conference.
"I am well known in my community. I'm well respected. I've been in Florida, in Tallahassee for eight years. I'm really interested once all this gets out to see what happens, and I'm really scared honestly," said Macbain.
Tallahassee, Fl--4/3/12 --- By: Danielle Eldredge
A Methodist pastor in our area says she's been leading a double life.
She's been hiding the fact that she doesn't believe in God.
Lake Jackson Methodist has been in Tallahassee for a century. In one hundred years they've never had a confirmed atheist pastor--until last week.
"I think it's a challenge for the church. It's a challenge for each one of us but it's not new. Two thousand years ago even Peter denied Christ," said Antonio Fernandez, the district superintendent for the church.
Teresa MacBain resigned from her position as pastor last Friday. She had been Lake Jackson's pastor for three years. But, Monday of last week she spoke from a different pulpit. She was a surprise guest speaker at the American Atheist Conference.
In a YouTube video recording of her speech, she tells the audience,"You were the ones who were going to burn in hell and I'm happy to say, as I stand before you, I'm going to burn with you."
She revealed that she was a member of the Clergy Project. It's an online community that aims to be a safe place for clergy members who are secret non-believers.
MacBain wrote a testimonial for the site under the fake name "Lynn." At the time she had not yet resigned form her duties.
She writes,"Every week I struggle with the fact that I'm lying when I stand before my congregation. I'm leading a double life."
Fernandez says MacBain was going through difficult times with her family. He thinks it shook her faith.
The church will appoint a new full-time pastor in June. In the meantime, church members will carry out the Sunday services.
Tallahassee, FL --- April 2, 2012 --- 5:37p.m. By: Deneige Broom
A local minister stepped down from her post just before announcing she is an atheist.
A member of Lake Jackson United Methodist in Tallahassee says Teresa MacBain left the church Friday, March 30.
A day later, a video was posted online from a recent American Atheist Conference.
In it, MacBain came out as an atheist to the crowd.
Church members are meeting tonight to discuss leadership plans in her absence.
MacBain was with the church since 2009.
We have not been able to get in touch with MacBain or church clergy for comment.
A link to the video is below.