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to think you don't have to believe in God to be a vicar / priest

(80 Posts)
moogstera1 Fri 09-Nov-12 18:37:12

having a conversation with dh about whether priests / vicars other "professional" religious people actually all believe in God or whether some see it as a career ( Have no religious belief myself so find it hard to fathom ).
Anyway, got onto my asking whether if you lost your faith when you were a priest, but were otherwise very proficient at the giving services, being nice to people etc. you would still be allowed to keep your job, or would the church sack you.
Also, would they legally be allowed to as it seems to cry out to me that it would be religious discrimination directly leading to being sacked.
Dh now refusing to engage in the convo as he says it's too mad to contemplate that any vicars / priests don't believe in God, let alone that they wouldn't be told to give up their job if they were to "come clean" that they didn't believe in it all anymore.

GhostShip Fri 09-Nov-12 18:50:46

It would be bloody stupid to be a priest or vicar, if you didn't believe in god.
Its a big sacrifice too.

And balls to religious discrimination, I think this is one of those cases where discrimination is applicable.

AgentZigzag Fri 09-Nov-12 18:52:51

I would say it's seen as a vocation rather than job.

Of course there are going to be those who are more into the 'job' side than the faith bit, but because you can't see directly into their minds how would anyone know?

Faith isn't something you can measure, you can't say 'you don't have enough faith' to be a vicar, whereas you could probably say 'you're not very good at the job bit'?

kim147 Fri 09-Nov-12 18:53:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gordyslovesheep Fri 09-Nov-12 18:53:44

he believed in Spider Baby ...which is no more far fetched

KeemaNaanAndCurryOn Fri 09-Nov-12 18:54:35

you'd be a bit daft to have a life of celibacy just cos you liked the job.

ImperialBlether Fri 09-Nov-12 18:54:59

You made me laugh out loud with what you said about religious discrimination.

I am pretty certain that many priests/nuns get into a kind of routine where they pray and sing and preach but don't really think about god much. I can't believe that they all believe in it but like you say, may like the other aspects of the job/lifestyle. After all, a nun who is 65 who realises there is no god might well act as though there is rather than go and live in a council flat on benefits.

Emandlu Fri 09-Nov-12 18:56:29

There are definitely priests and vicars who don't believe in God. It has been seen as a career as well as a vocation.

I think it is ludicrous that you would consider being a priest or a vicar if you didn't believe in God but apparently this isn't a pre-requisite.

crazygracieuk Fri 09-Nov-12 18:58:11

I'm with your dh on this. How deeply they feel their faith might fluctuate over their lifetime and might differ to other priests but they must believe in Christian principles like Jesus was the son of God etc.

AuntFini Fri 09-Nov-12 19:02:11

A friend of mine went to Bible college before he was a Christian. His parents were both trained as vicars so I think he felt it was a natural progression. He wasn't staunchly against it, but he didn't believe.

So I suppose there will be some vicars/priests who don't truly believe in Christianity. It must be quite strange though.

LynetteScavo Fri 09-Nov-12 19:04:00

Hmm...I reckon if a priest or nun said they no longer believed in God, the church would think he had mental health problems and send them to some far off place.....where ever priests and nuns who have breakdowns go.

I also think they get into a routine, and don't actually give the meaning of life and God that much thought. Singing and doing good deeds and reading the bible are types of prayaing (so I'm told).

I can see vicars (or other religious people, rabbis etc, who have children) loosing their faith more easily. For example if they had a child who died, I can see they might well question their faith. Please don't think I am saying Catholics are less likely to loose their faith!!

hackmum Fri 09-Nov-12 19:04:13

A former Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, used to get into hot water for saying stuff like he didn't believe in the resurrection. I think a lot of C of E priests veer into the "Jesus was basically a good person" line of thinking rather than buying into the whole supernatural element.

It's also the case, I understand, that at theological college, a lot of time is spent on the origins of the scriptures, and seeing them as man-made texts rather than divinely-inspired. That must make it challenging for some trainee priests.

But there's also been an interesting bit of research in the US on priests who have lost their faith, but don't (or can't) admit it publically: http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2010/03/priests-who-have-lost-their-faith.html

ninah Fri 09-Nov-12 19:05:27

the record on celibacy isn't that great either

horseygeorgie Fri 09-Nov-12 20:33:23

My Dad is a vicar. Yes he believes in God. I think it may be seen as a bit hypocrytical to be a Vicar if you don't believe in God, as the giving services is actually only done because people DO believe in God. It isn't just done because it is what people like or expect, it is an act of worship to the God they believe in.
I think most people who are religious have a crisis of faith at some point and the Church will help Vicars through that, but i think if you have truly left your faith behind you you would be asked to leave your post. (No real employment laws apply as it is classed as a vocation, and Vicars are not given salaries they are given 'living allowances'. Bloody small ones too!)

I'm not religious btw, just grown up with it!

LynetteScavo Fri 09-Nov-12 20:44:29

www.christianitymagazine.co.uk/Browse%20By%20Category/features/pay-check.aspx

Not that bloody small, though.

PatsysPyjamas Fri 09-Nov-12 21:22:29

Do you find £22k (or £10k for a Catholic priest) an unreasonably high stipend, Lynette?

SuffolkNWhat Fri 09-Nov-12 21:25:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

InSPsFanjoNoOneHearsYouScream Fri 09-Nov-12 21:27:11

It would help I guess if they did believe

expatinscotland Fri 09-Nov-12 21:28:36

I would think you'd want to, but I do agree there might be those who did when they entered their profession but have since become atheists.

LynetteScavo Fri 09-Nov-12 21:29:45

No, I don't find it unreasonably high.

For a vicar, with a housing allowance and pension I think it's adequate to raise three DC comfortably.

I know our priest also get £30 per baptism, and so I'm guessing he also gets a supplement per funeral and wedding.

I know a priest who admitted he was comfortable financially because his mother had chosen his God father well, and advised young parents to chose Godparents for their children equally wisely. I wasn't sure whether to be hmm or grin.

Chubfuddler Fri 09-Nov-12 21:31:57

I find it hard to believe the majority of Anglican clergy believe in god tbh.

PermanentlyOnEdge Fri 09-Nov-12 21:31:58

I can confidently say that believing in God is NOT a requirement to be a priest, as my cousin is a priest who doesn't, and it is known and tolerated by his branch of Christianity. I tease him about it quite regularly, as in 'I thought you lot were supposed to believe in God?' etc. (please don't take offence, he's my cousin and we have a jokey sarky thing going), and he explains at length how you just have to be 'open to the idea', and supportive of others with faith.
To me it seems bizarre, but there you go.

LynetteScavo Fri 09-Nov-12 21:33:29

Well he probably doesn't get "paid" £30 per baptism...there's probably a much better word for it....

fruitpastille Fri 09-Nov-12 21:36:28

DH is really into theology and says that the Church can discriminate on religious grounds. One example of precedence is Anthony Freeman being sacked in 1994 by the bishop of chichester for writing a book stating his Christian 'humanism' - he said something like he knew he believed in god because he knew he didn't exist.

expatinscotland Fri 09-Nov-12 21:37:12

Plenty of people have great faith in early adulthood and then come to the realisation there's no Big Man in the Sky who actually cares about us.

But by then, yeah, they're probably sort of stuck in the life, and as jobs go, it's not the worst one in the world, so they keep going.

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