Atheist Minister Speaks Out Publicly for First Time

By: Eyewitness News Email
By: Eyewitness News Email

Tallahassee, Fl--4/21/12

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.

Tallahassee, Fl--4/4/12

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.

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  • by Justme Location: Not a bible thumper on Apr 6, 2012 at 03:16 PM
    I believe that this woman is being used by the devil.
  • by 911... on Apr 6, 2012 at 03:09 PM
    Showed us a god, You had story after story of just miraculous miracle of survival. A whole building fell down around a group of people in a stairwell and when the dust cleared the stairwell remained standing and they survived. That is God my friends nothing else explains that.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 6, 2012 at 03:05 PM
    PS For the definition of a "true" Christian, I'm afraid you will have to read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible). I don't mean the passages that people who identify themselves with Christianity quote to you out of context. I mean the whole thing. There is this guy called Jesus. Then read the Acts to discover what a difference he made in the lives of some of the people who knew Him. No other way, I'm afraid. Sorry.
  • by Anonymous Location: Tallahassee on Apr 6, 2012 at 02:52 PM
    This is very sad, you see, because it sounds like in her speech that what Teresa really left was not God or Christianity. What she describes in her speech and "apologizes" for is God and Christianity corrupted by earnest but erring people. It's as sad as rejecting a good friend because someone convinces you of a rumor about her. I know people who are just like the people she apologizes for and like she says she was. I have to believe she was. But God is love, and that isn't what she described. There are many Christians who quietly go about their lives trying to live by their principles of honesty, kindness, compassion toward others, welcoming and trying to comfort, serving others, really learning and thinking and praying humbly about their doubts and faith. They don't talk religion unless the other person brings it up or unless the situation calls for it, and then when they do, they emphasize what God and Jesus have done for them and not what they think They are going to do to someone else. Why do Christians think that atheists know nothing about their religion? Well, in my experience, it's because of what atheists say about their religion. :) Isn't that how you tell how much anyone knows about anything? In fact, I find often that many atheists, like many Christians, don't even know much about their own beliefs or even that they have them. Doubt must be accepted as part of any belief, whether it is belief in God or disbelief. It is not in the nature of a human being to know it all. This is an historically and scientifically provable assertion, and as far as I can see, it is kind of silly to try to assert that the human condition is ever going to change. There will always be "more" and therefore a need for faith--in something. If a person can not accept the omnipresence of doubt, he is truly living a fantasy.
  • by Smiling on Apr 6, 2012 at 02:31 PM
    How could you live in Tallahasse in the Spring and think there is no God?
  • by NINJA on Apr 6, 2012 at 02:03 PM
    If God wasn't real, we wouldn't have Tim Tebow.
  • by Undue Attention Location: Tallahassee on Apr 6, 2012 at 12:19 PM
    So let me get this right...this story (which isn't really a story) is getting more attention than the Trayvon Martin story? Something is really wrong with that picture! Let it go people! Move on and leave this family alone!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 6, 2012 at 03:56 PM in reply to Undue Attention
      The media already conducted the trial and found Zimmerman guilty, dont' you remember? No evidence has been provided to the public, but everyone claims to know what happened.
    • reply
      by Black flag on Apr 6, 2012 at 03:59 PM in reply to Undue Attention
      The Treyvon Martin story is getting more attention than the 13 year old white boy who was set on fire by a group of older black boys?
  • by Anonymous on Apr 6, 2012 at 11:17 AM
    ALL religions are rackets. The leadership lead sheep to their personal back accounts and the accounting is protected by the government from scrutiny and taxes. I know the drug cartels are jealous. I'm still amazed that so many people still can't step back and think for themself. If I tell you that I have a little green man in my backyard that I go fishing with you would say I am crazy. Why is your little blue 'guy in the sky' any different?
  • by SAVED on Apr 6, 2012 at 11:14 AM
    God "deny me and my father, and I will deny you in heaven" You liberal atheist probably also believe in abortion, yet hate the death penalty. Explain that one, kill children, but not murders?
  • by Really Location: Tally on Apr 6, 2012 at 10:11 AM
    NOT even her CLOSEST friends new that she was an atheist before this story was reported. She was so involved in the community. It’s upsetting that this has turned into a religious debate. To me this isn’t about religion, it’s about her character and the fact that she didn’t even tell her closest friends; we had to find out from the news. She is still a good person. “Religion” shouldn’t determine a persons worth. This is not the first time or the last time a pastor has come out as an atheist. The more publicity we keep giving this story the more “FAME” we give Teresa and the Clergy project. PUT THIS STORY TO REST! Now is the time for the community and her friends to pray for her/family and start moving forward. I can’t wait for the day she re-commits her life to God! I wonder if WCTV will report on that story. (This isn’t NEWS; this story is affecting A LOT of people’s lives). (There is always more to every story and this one is no different).
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