Friday, February 21, 2014

But he still cashes paychecks from the church

University Times interviews Anglican priest David Paterson who does not believe in God
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The University Times is the student newspaper of Trinity College, Dublin--KSH.

Being an active member of the Sea of Faith network has not made [David] Paterson’s life any easier. He has come up against hostility within the Church of England: “Various bishops have tried to get me out at various stages. Well… To be honest… Two bishops. Once it was for appearing on the BBC programme The Heart of the Matter to discuss reading the resurrection stories as metaphor. The bishop sort of worked on me for a year to see if he could manage to get me out but he didn’t succeed.” As shocking as it was to hear that not believing in the existence of God is insufficient grounds to get a priest expelled from the Church of England, Paterson confirmed this: “Well, the Church of England is funny that way. It likes to think that it can tell people what they should believe. But as a matter of fact, the process of expelling someone is so complicated and so expensive that it is hardly ever used.” Despite this though, two Sea of Faith members who were clergymen have been successfully dismissed from their posts: Church of England priest Anthony Freeman and Andrew Furlong of the Church of Ireland.

Paterson claims that his unorthodox views do not cause problems with his parishioners: “I didn’t ever have much trouble with my congregation. But then even course I was not shoving it down their throats. I wasn’t trying to tell anyone else what to believe any more than I would want other people to tell me what to believe.” I asked him what he do if a member of his congregation came to him having doubts about the existence of God. I was under the impression that this would have been a tricky situation. Paterson is surprisingly laid back about it: “Well of course there is a surprisingly large number of people like that. This is why Sea of Faith was set up. There were loads and loads of people who were anxious because they thought that they were losing their faith. Some of them were ordained and some of them were not. What we wanted to do was reassure them that there weren’t losing their faith. They were actually finding a real faith which was not based on false premises.”

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