Atheist group plans October surprise: Conservative minister 'coming out' as non-believer

by Gregory Tomlin |

(ABC News/Nightline)A silhouette of "Adam Mann" during a 2010 ABC News interview about ministers who no longer believe.

MADISON, Wisc. (Christian Examiner) – The litigious atheist group known as the Freedom from Religion Foundation is planning its own October surprise – the public "coming out" of a former conservative pastor.

According to a statement from the organization, the minister will make an announcement, his "major revelation," at FFRF's annual convention in Philadelphia this weekend.

"After years as a closeted atheist in the Bible Belt, a former conservative pastor will be coming out publicly on Friday, Oct. 7," the statement said.

It named the former conservative pastor only as "Adam Mann" – a pseudonym. He is reportedly a co-founder of The Clergy Project, which is comprised of former ministers who have abandoned their calling and faith.

By this time, approximately 18 months after admitting to myself that I no longer believed, I had somehow learned to manage the cognitive dissonance and gut wrenching anxiety that came daily from pretending to believe in God on the job while personally acknowledging my hidden unbelief. To keep my job and support my family while I strategized how to change careers, I had become rather proficient at playing the charade. So why was I worried?
- "Adam Mann"

FFRF claims ABC News will be following the revelation because it picked up on the story about seven years ago and featured "Mann" on one of its programs about former ministers who were now atheists in 2010.

On The Clergy Project website, "Adam" is listed among the founders and claims the site is "a place for free-thought clergy to find refuge, reason, encouragement and community."

Shockingly, he claims he prefers to remain anonymous, at least until "we get out of ministry and are ready to do so." Mann has been practicing in the ministry under false pretenses at least since 18 months before his first interview with ABC News.

On another website, Mann described his past: 

"By this time, approximately 18 months after admitting to myself that I no longer believed, I had somehow learned to manage the cognitive dissonance and gut wrenching anxiety that came daily from pretending to believe in God on the job while personally acknowledging my hidden unbelief. To keep my job and support my family while I strategized how to change careers, I had become rather proficient at playing the charade. So why was I worried?"

Mann will be introduced at the convention by FFRF's Co-President Dan Barker, also a former minister.

"Adam was clandestinely moonlighting as an atheist for too long," Barker said. "We're pleased he's free at last."