Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $3.17
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

Caught in The Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind Paperback – December 17, 2013

73 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback, December 17, 2013
$828.80 $369.95

Best Books of the Year So Far
Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2015's Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Editorial Reviews

Review

“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, FriendlyAtheist.com
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

What is it like to be a preacher who can no longer believe the creed?

In confidential interviews, clergy reveal how their lives of service are overshadowed by hypocrisy, as they contemplate taking a leap from their faith. As religious leaders struggle to adapt to the new transparency of the information age, the phenomenon of non-believing clergy portends surprising developments in the future of religious belief.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Congruity (December 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615927904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615927909
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #719,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

130 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Dan Barker on December 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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. Dan Dennett's philosophical and moral insights combined with Linda LaScola's professional methodology make this not just another "anti-faith" tome, but an extremely useful objective examination of the phenomenon of the many ministers, priests, imams and rabbis who want to leave the pulpit but are "caught" in the horrible dilemma of choosing integrity over practicality and morality. (Disclosure: I know and admire Dan and Linda personally.) Whether a reader agrees with the philosophical and theological conclusions of these doubting clergy, no reader can deny that this is a fascinating study of a real problem: what happens to your career and life when your faith IS your career, and you give up your faith? I also loved reading Dan and Linda's personal stories at the end. It is nice to see Linda, who maintains a professional objectivity while interviewing and researching, actually tell us something about herself and her motivations. I know I am biased, but that does not mean this is not a GREAT book!
14 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Betsy Alden on December 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An alternate sub-title for this book could be: "Leaving Supernatural Beliefs Behind." Caught in the Pulpit should be widely read for the issues it raises about the roles of the clergy and the future of churches in an increasingly secular, pluralistic society. Its major value is in stimulating the kinds of conversations that need to be ongoing among believers, non-believers, atheists, humanists, Christians, adherents of the world's religions, and all those who care about creating a humane world for all peoples. The authors describe many kinds of faith and unfaith, focusing on both 1) clergy who struggle to maintain their integrity in institutions that are changing and who are supported by their members even when their understandings differ; and 2) churches that are evolving in a cultural context that no longer provides a "sacred canopy" to support their world views. (Full disclosure: I was "Rick," one of the original five "subjects" in the study in 2010; I was an "outlier" who never felt "caught").
Neither clergy nor religious communities have a clear blueprint for how to adapt. The authors prescribe strong doses of honesty, but they do not provide many positive or practical suggestions for moving beyond the ancient "atheist versus theist" debates, or how churches as social institutions might be helped to change. But they do give an inside glimpse into some of the problems that must be confronted if religious communities and their leaders are to evolve into cultural movements capable of continuing to contribute to creative human transformation and ecological flourishing.
Dennett and LaScola persuasively describe the discomfort of clergy who can no longer affirm "acceptable" orthodoxy. They also consider the potential evolutionary extinction of churches.
Read more ›
3 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By jshdhxh zj on December 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a really important book. It reveals and reports on an up-to-now hidden development in American religion. Now that the cat is out of the bag I would expect that ministers and their hierarchies will be acknowledging what some of their people are facing. Dan Dennett and Linda LaScola give us a lot to think about in this book and I am curious to hear what happens next. I would not be surprised if this phenomenon is the logical next big step in a movement away from traditional belief and toward greater personal freedom. Both authors write with kindness and understanding.

This book combines personal stories with enough detail that I felt like I really understood the dilemmas the people were describing and how their situations came to be. I was surprised with how much I sympathized with the interviewees. Linda LaScola's presentation was sensitive. I also found myself thinking about the decision making process when it comes to important career and personal choices. The subjects in this study were thoughtful and honest. They feel like friends.

Richard Dawkins' foreword is an excellent introduction.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Mary Johnson on December 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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. The intimacy and honesty of these conversations drew me in, as did the compassion and insight of both Dennett and LaScola. This book is a rare combination of intimate, qualitative research and expert philosophical and sociological analysis. What happens when a person has made a public commitment and has received public trust, but then no longer believes in the cause in which he or she has invested his life? How is that complicated by the fact that religion is not only an occupation for these people, but is interwoven with every aspect of life? These are some of the questions this book addresses with both skill and compassion.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Michael Beverly on December 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
So I was/am very interested in this topic and had just finished reading Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon so I thought I'd give this a look. First off, the information here is revealing and interesting and I didn't rate it 3 stars because I had some disagreement or dislike of the topic.

I felt it had too much of a college paper feel to it, it wasn't "fun" to read, it wasn't like reading Gladwell or something filled with anecdotes or even that much opinion or polemic (so part of this is a personal taste issue).

But what it was and is, is a book that breaks the ice on a topic that is probably far more common than anyone realizes and hopefully it's a book that paves the way for others to break out of shells they have self imposed on their lives. I left Christianity about 14 months ago. The spark was a crisis at church and the ending of my marriage, excommunication and a shunning were part of my experience.

I went to Dawkins first, and then Hitchens, and now I'm not only an atheist I'm starting to become active in out reach and public promotion of humanist values and thought, I want the world to shed religion, I believe we can better society by shedding false beliefs (and I realize this isn't a cut and dry topic, as the book I linked above states, we need more study on this topic for sure).

When I left Christianity it was a huge struggle, my income wasn't deprived from church, but other than that the emotions of it were similar to many of those that participated in the study covered in this book. I was first angry then depressed and then angry and then confused and I had a lot of mourning to do.
Read more ›
5 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: leaving a cult