Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind (Paperback)

Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind By Daniel C. Dennett, Linda LaScola, Richard Dawkins (Foreword by) Cover Image
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What is it like to be a preacher or rabbi who no longer believes in God? In this expanded and updated edition of their groundbreaking study, Daniel C. Dennett and Linda LaScola comprehensively and sensitively expose an inconvenient truth that religious institutions face in the new transparency of the information age—the phenomenon of clergy who no longer believe what they publicly preach. In confidential interviews, clergy from across the ministerial spectrum—from liberal to literal—reveal how their lives of religious service and study have led them to a truth inimical to their professed beliefs and profession. Although their personal stories are as varied as the denominations they once represented, or continue to represent—whether Catholic, Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist, Mormon, Pentecostal, or any of numerous others—they give voice not only to their own struggles but also to those who similarly suffer in tender and lonely silence. As this study poignantly and vividly reveals, their common journey has far-reaching implications not only for their families, their congregations, and their communities—but also for the very future of religion.

About the Author

Daniel C. Dennett is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University the codirector of the Center for Cognitive Studies. He is the author of numerous books, including Brainstorms, Breaking the Spell, Consciousness Explained, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Elbow Room, Freedom Evolves, and Intuition Pumps. He lives in North Andover, Massachusetts. Linda LaScola has been a qualitative researcher for more than 25 years and has traveled around the country interviewing people on numerous subjects, including health, mental health, public policy, and religion. She lives in Washington, DC. Richard Dawkins is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was the inaugural holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Ancestor’s Tale, Climbing Mount Improbable, The God Delusion, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Selfish Gene, and Unweaving the Rainbow.

Praise For…

“One of the most intriguing developments in modern American religion has been the increasing numbers of those who have lost their faith—not only the person in the pew but also the person in the pulpit. Caught in the Pulpit tells the entangled stories of these conflicted leaders of the faithful, first-hand accounts that are fascinating, eye-opening, and filled with pathos. This expanded second edition is a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in the current state of religion and the claims of faith.” —Bart D. Ehrman, distinguished professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author, Misquoting Jesus

“The new edition of Caught in the Pulpit extends and reinforces the message of the first: that many who preach religion do not themselves believe what they preach, for the good reason that they have more insight into its vacuity than those to whom they preach. Some are tragically trapped in this hypocrisy, some choose to keep living the lie: but knowing this adds to our sense of the lie that is religion itself. This is an important book, because it reveals an important truth.” —A.C. Grayling, Master of the New College of the Humanities London and author, The Good Book: A Humanist Bible

"Reading Caught in the Pulpit is like listening in on intimate conversations, even confessions, of clergy who doubt the very beliefs they are paid to teach and support. Dennett and LaScola address their subjects with both skill and compassion, yielding expert philosophical and sociological analysis. A fascinating read." —Mary Johnson, author, An Unquenchable Thirst

“People often ask me, ‘How could you become an atheist when you were a pastor?’ I always answer, ‘Exactly by being a pastor!’ . . . This book is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the process of losing faith. Though these stories are about clergy, their feelings and experiences will resonate for anyone who has been down this road." —Ryan J. Bell, former pastor and writer, Year Without God

"With care and sympathy, Dennett and LaScola bring light to some darker corners of the religious life.” —Philip Kitcher, John Dewey Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University and author, Life After Faith: The Case for Secular Humanism 

"Profound, honest, and revealing. I was also going to write 'surprising,' but I am not surprised. As a former preacher myself (who has since abandoned supernatural beliefs), I know exactly what is going through the minds of the clergy who are struggling with faith and reason. What I most admire about this book is the careful, scientific approach to the topic. . . . I know I am biased, but that does not mean this is not a GREAT book!" —Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and author, Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning

"This book provides remarkable insight into a silently growing demographic." —Hemant Mehta, editor,

Product Details
ISBN: 9781634310208
ISBN-10: 1634310209
Publisher: Pitchstone Publishing
Publication Date: May 1st, 2015
Pages: 280
Language: English

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