A Christian pastor who decided to live 2014 as an atheist has been fired from his two teaching jobs just four days into his experiment.
Bell, who was formerly a seventh-day Adventist pastor, decided to conduct the 12 month experiment in order to examine both atheism and his faith. However, only a few days into his pursuit, he found himself unemployed.
Ryan began his year without God on January 1, 2014. However, Azusa Pacific University and Fuller Theological Seminary, the two institutions where Bell taught, have already hindered his progress by firing him from the teaching positions he held, and Bell is now struggling to support his two daughters, who are aged 10 and 13.
Bell wrote on his blog:
“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.”
The 42-year-old decided to undertake a year of atheism after he was fired as a pastor at Hollywood’s Seventh-Day Adventist Church last year. He was dismissed because of his liberal views, which saw him campaign against the banning of same-sex marriage.
Talking to CNN, Bell stated:
“It’s like when you go to a movie and you suspend disbelief for three hours to get inside the story. I’m suspending my belief in God to see what atheism is all about. There have been times, usually late at night and early in the morning, when I think: What have I done? It really undermines the whole structure of your life, your career, your family.”
Bell also set up a blog entitled, “Year Without God – a former pastor’s journey into atheism,” which allows supporters of his work to donate funds to him.
Another atheist has set up an online fundraiser to try and assist Bell now that he is out of work. Clearly, people want to help him because, in just 24 hours, $19,000 has been raised by 900 people.
David Quinn, who decided to assist Bell, wrote on the page:
“Whilst I am uncertain on anyone’s ability to live ‘as an atheist’ without actually being one… I do think that someone who is actually doing something to challenge their faith and to make educated decisions should be supported and not be hung out to dry.”
He then added:
“I also hope that he can see that charity is in no way an exclusively christian value, but more so, a human trait that should be cherished and encouraged in all belief systems.”