For the Pastor Giving Atheism a Try...

Raised: $27,304.00
Goal: $5,000.00

Created by

Hemant Mehta

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You may have heard the story of Ryan J. Bell, a former pastor who decided to spend a year living without God -- in effect, giving atheism a try. Within a week of going public with his... more


Updated posted by Hemant Mehta 3 months ago

Hi, everyone -- Just FYI, I plan to shut down this fundraiser Friday night(-ish) and send Ryan Bell the check early next week. I'll keep you updated, of course. Thanks for your support so far!


Updated posted by Hemant Mehta 3 months ago

Hi everyone -- This fundraiser has been amazing, so thank you for participating. A couple quick notes:

-- I forgot to update my bank account "name" from the previous fundraiser I held so your credit card may say you donated to "WPY*WE SUPPORT DAN ASH" but rest assured the money will be going to the right place. My apologies.

-- Some people asked me what would happen with the money beyond the $5,000 goal. The reason the fundraising goal was $5,000 was because GoFundMe needed a number and I made one up on the spot. All money raised (minus GoFundMe's fees) will be going to Mr. Bell.


Created by Hemant Mehta on January 6, 2014

You may have heard the story of Ryan J. Bell, a former pastor who decided to spend a year living without God -- in effect, giving atheism a try.

Within a week of going public with his experiment, he was fired from the two Christian schools at which he was an adjunct professor and the church at which he served as a consultant.

He wrote on his site:

"So I find myself, on Day 4, without any employment. My savings will run out in about two weeks and I’m scrambling to find immediate work doing, well…anything—manual labor, waiting tables, other teaching and consulting, or whatever I can find."

As someone who criticized his methodology, I still admire the fact that he's putting his beliefs under scrutiny. Places of higher learning -- including Christian ones -- ought to encourage these sorts of experiments, not run away from them.

As an atheist, I want Bell to know that we appreciate what he's trying to do and that we'll support him even if his Christian community will not and (more importantly) even if he decides atheism isn't for him when the year is over.

You have my assurance that all money donated will be given to Mr. Bell (excluded whatever GoFundMe takes for their expenses). I will provide proof on here and on my website.

Have Questions? Contact the organizer of this campaign now:


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As a Zen Buddhist who worked for years in the inter-faith community, I'm fascinated by these comments, and what they say of the people who make them. Those who applaud what the pastor is doing "get it". This type of deep internal search is VERY difficult, and most people don't have the courage to even contemplate it. Those like Franklin Lee or Jim Blair who spew out vitriol and bile (thanks Jim Fox) are only exposing their own issues. Rev. Bell, I can only encourage you in your journey, and hope you continue to broaden your experience and mind. Consider living in other faiths, as well as atheism (which cannot for one second be considered a single, monolithic system of though--there are as many forms of "atheism" as there are "Christianity"). What I observed in interfaith is that most people who truly go on a journey like this (including real inter-faith dialog) in the end find it strengthens their own beliefs.

posted by Chrys Thorsen 4 days ago

Mr. Franklin Lee, how is that any different than someone living on welfare? This man is branching out into areas unknown to him, and is taking some huge chances that may not end up with any rewards due to the fact he has lost his positions within his church community and colleges. He actually was paying taxes and contributing to the overall workforce as a professor and teacher. How are we not all teachers in what we believe or do in our lives? I commend him for taking such bold steps and praise him for being able to travel on this journey.

posted by Koren Billie 1 month ago

Looks like there is good money in atheism; especially for Pastors who deny Christ

posted by Jim Blair 1 month ago

Franklin Lee and others are presumably Christians. How else to explain the bile and vitriol? Only the religious...

posted by Jim Fox 2 months ago

A bottom feeding liar will get a huge paycheck... great. The story of religion.

posted by Franklin Lee 3 months ago

This is like a Wallstreet player giving up his job and coming on to ask his fleeced clients for more of their cash. The lamest thing I can imagine.

posted by Franklin Lee 3 months ago

This guy has been living off the gullible donations of the masses for years and now folks are being even more stupid. I cannot believe that people are sending this evil man money.

posted by Franklin Lee 3 months ago

Good luck Mr. Bell. I've been there, done that without support. Maybe this will help a little.

posted by Jenny Westmark 3 months ago

Dear Mr. Bell, I hope your experiment goes well and that you are able to experience facing life frankly. It's gratifying to see how so many people want to support and help you: you've had a real-life demonstration that morality and good will need not come from religion. Please keep us updated. Are you planning on reading Dawkins and Harris, Epictetus and so on? Do you plan on reframing your responses to the arguments regarding the existence of God? (I did that as an exercise in belief and found it very challenging to intuit the believers' answers and points of view.) Anyway, I commend you and wish you the best of luck. Please, please announce a blog or some sort of communication about your experiment!

posted by Terry Graves 3 months ago

Why are you people throwing money at this guy? Since when does embarking on a personal journey involve a cash prize and how do I sign up? Oh, I just have to lose my job.

posted by Charles Zoll 3 months ago

Azusa Pacific was not much kinder to me as a student coming out in my Senior year in 1977...You'd think they'd stop panicking and knee jerking. After all, they're only a few miles from Hollywood. Bravo, Donors, if for no other reason than to show that intolerance is out of place in modern society.

posted by Mickey Maynard 3 months ago

Seriously, you guys think this is okay? Playing games with foundational beliefs to collect $.

posted by Dave Martinez 3 months ago

Thanks for the ataboys!

posted by John Bentley 3 months ago

I can understand Ryan feeling like the faith got him in a pattern that may have seemed like a programmed way on thinking and he wanted to to test the truth for himself. However, that's where Many Christians turn to Old Testament, which provides these answers. Jesus was a Jew from day one, and reached Jewish people. We are to think for ourselves and to find truth in the bible. God also said not to put Him on the test, yet we can see that His word works if properly applied. It's not a boring robotic system at all. It's all about His power at work, and we can use it to make life better for us and those around us. It's nice to see people being kind and helping someone, but many just don't know what faith in a Messiah is all about. It's a great faith and allows for much thinking and discovering a Word that stands forever. Just read the Bible book of Proverbs and see what a valuable book it is. Find out for yourselves.

posted by Dan David 3 months ago

Well spoken Mr. Bentley.

posted by Carl Corbett 3 months ago

I hope that the Rev. Bell does find employment soon, and that he will keep a diary/journal of his exploration of atheism, faith and Christianity to report back to us in a year's time. And when you think about it, a year is a very short time to mull over these deep concepts. John Bentley: I echo Heather H's comment - very well put sir :)

posted by Penny Kunter 3 months ago

John Bentley, very well put sir :)

posted by Heather Hopson 3 months ago

@Ro Os I wanted to take a moment and reply to your comment. I don't think that the church or private schools in this situation are being treated unfairly or demonized. It is obvious to the most casual observer that they cannot move forward with a teacher/pastor that does not fully embrace their beliefs at least publicly. Having said that, what exactly would you have us do in his situation? I gave because the skills that Mr Bell has spent the last 20 years building are at least at the moment no longer useful for the purpose of making a living. He has a family to support. No one here is acting as a benefactor. In fact most of the donations have not only been small, but anonymous. In my estimation they are in fact an act of love and empathy for a fellow human. Nothing more. I too was a Christian for the first 26 years of my life and understand that what you wrote came from a place of love and concern for your friend. It would have been very difficult for me to accept the premise that the people donating are not looking to gain anything from this exercise. That is because as a Christian I believed that I lived in a demon haunted world where there were two sides fighting for the souls of people. I no longer find that to be the case, as I dont believe in the concept of a soul. You will find most Atheists dont either. It seems to me that Mr. Bell is/was exactly the kind of Christian that Atheists would want to dialogue with in the world. Regardless of any personal failings that he may have, his outlook seems to be open minded, non judgmental, seeking to help others. I am not sure what culture war we would win by his de-conversion that he has not already won by his acceptance of others. I would ask you to consider that most of the people who have donated to Mr Bell did so because they found themselves at one time in a similar place. It can be very lonely in the beginning because the people you would normally confide in are not able understand, even though some sincerely want to be there for you. That is why I donated. I hope that this note provides you with some insight into the motivations of one non-beleiver. I know all to well that this experience can be upsetting for everyone who we love and love us.

posted by John Bentley 3 months ago

Taking a journey that challenges your faith is not an easy thing to embark upon. Most of us did it privately and many probably feared the backlash from friends/family/colleagues in even admitting doubt or a desire to explore the arguments against religion/faith. It was the best decision I have ever made and has enriched my life in ways I hadn't expected. The loss of faith/religion can be a long road as you struggle with the big questions, but one worth taking indeed. I applaud the man for openly challenging himself and for sharing his "experiment". No matter where he ends up, I am sure that a thoughtful and honest exploration to challenge his beliefs can only benefit him in the long run. Good luck man! I will be following.

posted by Heather Hopson 3 months ago

A science teacher embraces creationism and loses his job: fair. A Christian embraces atheism and loses his job at a private CHRISTIAN school: fair. Enjoy your publicity stunt, Pastor. See you back in church soon...

posted by Matt Casper 3 months ago

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Good luck Mr. Bell. I'm agnostic and attend a UU church, but I believe that faith is a personal journey no person should be punished for. You obviously have credentials and knowledge that made you qualified for your various jobs, but some institutions are inherently intolerant. I hope this little donation helps.




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