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Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Belief to Atheism Hardcover – June 25, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion
“The clergyman who sees the light, loses his faith, and realizes that his life’s work has been empty delusion faces worse than inner torment. In small-town America he confronts public ostracism, family break-up, and financial ruin. Such was the predicament of Jerry DeWitt. Brother DeWitt has landed on his feet, but many others still wrestle in the closet with the pain. This poignant book will give them strength.”

Dan Barker, author of Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists
“Jerry DeWitt tells a truly remarkable story of an actual faith healing. He healed himself of his faith. Jerry’s honest and wrenching struggle to find his way out of the Pentecostal/evangelical house of mirrors is driven inexorably by his true concern: his unfailing love for people. I literally got goosebumps reading this page-turner, and cheered for joy at the end.”

Bishop Carlton Pearson, author of God Is Not a Christian, Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu... and The Gospel of Inclusion
“My friend Jerry Dewitt is one of those ‘raving lunatics’ (spiritual eccentrics) who insists on disturbing the illusion and has thus created a new path for his own soul and continues to evolve. I can hardly wait to see where his bridge takes him and us.”

Publishers Weekly, 5/15/13
“A fascinating insider’s tour of the often-mystifying doctrines of Pentecostalism…deeply intriguing, offering a firsthand account of the slow crumbling of a life’s foundation in faith and its consequences…Those who share DeWitt’s perspective—and even those who are true believers—will find much to engage them.”

Crooks & Liars, 6/18/13
“A genuine page-turner.”

MSNBC-TV’s “Morning Joe,” 6/28/13
“A real grabber.”

Shelf Awareness, 7/9/13
“[A] chicken-fried steak of a memoir….[An] authentic and compelling read…Fascinating….Hope After Faith is a richly detailed, nakedly honest story that will resonate with many.” 

Winnipeg Free Press (Canada), 7/20/13
“[An] earnest memoir…[An] interesting human story.”

About the Author

Jerry DeWitt’s ministry began when he was seventeen. After twenty-five years of preaching, including pastorship of two fundamentalist congregations, he became an atheist. DeWitt lives in rural Louisiana.

Ethan Brown is the author of Queens Reigns Supreme, Snitch, and Shake the Devil Off. He lives in New Orleans.

HopeAfterFaith.com

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (June 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306822245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306822247
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #788,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Phelps Gates VINE VOICE on May 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A very interesting book and one that I learned a lot from. I had expected the book to revolve around how the author became an atheist, but it's mostly about his life-long spiritual journey within Bible-believing Christianity. The book gives a fascinating glimpse into the religious life of rural people in the South. It's only in the shocking last chapter that we see the bigotry and ostracism he encountered when his former friends and neighbors found out that his spiritual quest had led him out of Christianity entirely.

I guess I've led a rather sheltered life: in my experience, your religion (and that of your neighbors) is a personal matter, and no one really makes an issue of what church, if any, you attend. But this book gives an in-depth account of how people take their religion seriously in the Sabine River country of western Louisiana. Religion of the Bible-believing Protestant variety permeates the culture and is taken pretty much for granted. Even in school, Civics class may turn out to be a Bible study, with students who are budding evangelists, like DeWitt, invited to preach to their classmates (under the radar of the FFRF, it would seem). Not everyone agrees on everything but the controversies seem to revolve around such things as whether "speaking in tongues" is required (Pentecostal) or discouraged (Baptists). The Taliban-like Dominionists, who favor stoning for sins, are a significant presence in church. Some preachers denounce television (the "one-eyed devil") or even school athletics.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Erik Olson VINE VOICE on June 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I first became aware of Jerry DeWitt when he preached a faux Easter service at the 2013 American Atheist 50th Anniversary Convention in Austin, Texas. Afterwards he chuckled when I shook his hand and told him his "sermon" gave me flashbacks to my Christian days. When I heard his book was forthcoming I made sure to put it on my list, and reading "Hope After Faith" was worth the wait.

An awestruck young Jerry DeWitt accepts Christ during a Jimmy Swaggart revival, and from there he eventually dives deeply into the Pentecostal movement. As an evangelist and pastor, he preaches, speaks in tongues, and exhorts others toward the Kingdom of God, all the while expending much of his energy trying to find just the right gospel to grow as close to his Savior as possible so that he can help others do the same.

Unfortunately, "Truth" always seems to be just out of Mr. DeWitt's grasp. No matter how hard he prays, what charismatic pastor he follows, or vibrant church he serves at there are always questionable actions that give him pause or tragedies that break his heart. In addition, Mr. DeWitt's empathy never fully allows him to buy into the doctrine of eternal damnation, so he naturally gravitates toward a more humanistic vision of Christianity, thus creating conflict with his more conservative brethren.

Through the years, more and more questions arise that are unanswerable by the Bible or pastoral counsel, until, despite his best efforts, Mr. DeWitt's faith is consumed by reason and experience. He begins to seek out alternative answers online and at atheist-related gatherings. A picture taken at a freethought convention and uploaded to Facebook finally outs him, and his deconversion ends up costing him his livelihood, friends, and even his spouse.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By John Grove VINE VOICE on June 4, 2013
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I feel a deep kinship with Jerry after reading his story because I used to live in DeRidder back in my Army days in 1990 for a short while. This is a town that is very small, so when he is talking about the places in Louisiana and over the south, I know exactly where he is talking about, which made the story more personal more for me.

His father died when he is very young, just as mine did. He got into the Pentecostal movement and felt the calling to preach, similar to me, except I was his doctrinal nemesis, the independent, knuckle busting, Baptist preacher! We both preached the smaller churches. The author went through so much, I felt for him. Getting married early (just as I did), his poverty, his struggles, his calling to preach, tent revivals, changing churches, panic attacks, and his subsequent de-conversion, separation from his wife, ostracism from the community. What a remarkable story and he is such a very good writer (And thanks to Ethan Brown) making this story just come alive off the pages and into your heart.

Jerry, I salute you brother for your courage, your trials, your struggles, and of course your acumen, wisdom and knowledge. You are an inspiration to me and I could not put your book down.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book, but I was eager to read it. Warning- if you're someone who cries easily, don't read this one in public like I did. You may find yourself needing tissues while you read!

The people who say Mr. DeWitt didn't change until the last chapter missed the point. His transition from preacher to atheist was a long, painful journey. It was filled with baby steps, and by missing those steps I feel they've missed the entire point of the book.

After reading Hope After Faith, I was struck by how much Mr. DeWitt didn't change. He's always been drawn to helping people, and this hasn't changed. He's a warm, loving man who wants nothing more than to help his fellow man and spread joy in this world. While I found it a difficult read, I definitely felt reassured and even inspired to help others once I'd finished.

I do recommend this book- it's painful at times, but it is definitely worth the effort of reading.
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