Sensible Mr Ripley ditches religion
Longtime Canadian minister and religious columnist Rev Bob Ripley has come out as an atheist.
Ripley, a former senior minister at Metropolitan United Church in Toronto – Canada’s largest Protestant church – wrote in his latest syndicated column:
This was not an overnight decision. I didn’t go to bed one night this week a believer and wake up an unbeliever. I wasn’t blinded on Tuesday by the light of reason that led to a deconversion. I began this journey more than seven years ago. It led initially to me taking early retirement from ministry and has continued over the ensuing five years.
Ripley has been a minister for more than 30 years. His announcement coincides with the release of a book explaining the details of what he calls a “deconversion.”
In the column, Ripley tells his religious readers that he had not changed.
The heart that was once surrendered to Jesus Christ, that gave itself to others and infused a vocation with kindness, still beats in me. If you have ever met me, know that the person I was then, I am now, still striving for integrity and capable of profound love.
He also admits that part of him “wanted to remain silent” and avoid risking incurring the anger of some of his readers.
I also know how crippling secrets are and that it is important every once in a while to tell the secret of who we are. If we don’t, we risk coming to believe the edited version of ourselves we hope others will find acceptable.
Where once I proclaimed the doctrines of Christianity with passion and sincerity, I am now convinced that religion, all religion, is man-made.
There is not the space here to detail each signpost along my sojourn from faith. They are meticulously chronicled in my latest book, Life Beyond Belief: A Preacher’s Deconversion, being released this week.
In short, after pondering the age and span of the cosmos, the elegant simplicity of evolution by natural selection, the ruthlessness of the God of the Bible, the enigma of expiation for sin by blood sacrifice, the discrepancies in Scripture, the antagonisms and animosities derived from religious fervour and the violence and corruption in church history, adherence to my former beliefs was no longer possible.
And he concludes:
I’m not lost. I began this journey by asking questions. It continued by not being content with trite cliches or lazy affirmations. Curiosity is an amazing accelerant. I am a passionate advocate for unremitting intellectual honesty, for reason and reality, for love and learning. My advocacy simply no longer assumes a deity.
I still believe. I believe no person or group of persons is inferior to any other. I believe that what matters is not so much what we believe, but how we conduct ourselves for these few short, fragile years of being alive.
I believe that being aware of the beauty and wonder of the universe, including this pale blue dot in the remote corner of one of billions of galaxies, is an indescribably wonderful privilege.