A former pastor at a Seventh-day Adventist church who decided to perform an experiment in which he would be an atheist for a year has been fired by his current employers, Azusa Pacific University (APU) and Fuller Theological Seminary.
According to a post on his blog, on the fourth day of his “experiment,” Ryan Bell found himself “without any employment.”
He writes that the administrators at both Christian institutions “simply feel they cannot have me as a part of the faculty while I’m am in this year long process. Both APU and Fuller welcomed a conversation with me at the end of the year to see about my future work with their institutions. The Deans of both schools encouraged me and said they felt my project was bold and even important and necessary.”
Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta had been critical of Bell’s methodology, writing that he’s not “trying on atheism” so much as just “doing what all people should do and exposing himself to an alternative perspective.” However, he’s sympathetic to Bell’s plight.
“All he did was voice the idea of giving atheism a try—even if only superficially—and it was enough for his Christian employers to cut all ties with him,” Mehta wrote.
According to Bell, his “savings will run out in about two weeks and I’m scrambling to find immediate work doing.” He’s willing to do “anything—manual labor, waiting tables, other teaching and consulting, or whatever I can find.”
So Mehta decided to help him, setting up a fundraising page
for him that, as of this writing, has already exceeded its original goal by 15 percent.
“I think it’s important to show that, unlike the Christian organizations, we support someone who’s willing to put his own beliefs under the microscope,” Mehta wrote.
“Furthermore, we’ll support his experiment even if he doesn’t end up becoming an atheist.“