Original article/essay:

Preachers who are not believers

Evolutionary Psychology 8(1): 122-150 Daniel C. Dennett, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA, Daniel.dennett@tufts.eduLinda LaScola, LaScola Qualitative Research, 3900 Connecticut Avenue, NW 101F, Washington, DC 20008, USA


There are systemic features of contemporary Christianity that create an almost invisible class of non-believing clergy, ensnared in their ministries by a web of obligations, constraints, comforts, and community. Exemplars from five Protestant denominations, Southern Baptist, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Methodist and Church of Christ, were found and confidentially interviewed at length about their lives, religious education and indoctrination, aspirations, problems and ways of coping. The in-depth, qualitative interviews formed the basis for profiles of all five, together with general observations about their predicaments and how they got into them. The authors anticipate that the discussion generated on the Web (at On Faith, the Newsweek/Washington Post website on religion, http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith//2010/03/disbelief_in_the_pulpit/all.html) and on other websites will facilitate a larger study that will enable the insights of this pilot study to be clarified, modified, and expanded.


religion, clergy, disbelief, Protestantism, qualitative, interviews

Full article

Download PDF (free)

Evolutionary Psychology - An open access peer-reviewed journal - ISSN 1474-7049 © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young; individual articles © the author(s)

You're in!