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Not-Moot Zoot on Clergy Coming Oot


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/05/13

Winnipeg Free Press commented on Zoot Pictures and its work on non-believers.

Leslea Mair, who is a filmmaker based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, worked on a project through Zoot Pictures, where she is the CEO and President. She wants to know about the ways in which, the processes, in other words, clergy lose faith.

This becomes an important question in the growing arena of research into the secular communities around the world, especially in some of the nations where the research can be conducted more comprehensively and in interesting ways, i.e., a documentary.

Mair was raised in The United Church of Canada. As a prominently recognized progressive church, this seems like a pattern, of individual members of The UCC able to leave without qualms – even become an atheist.

Mair stated, “But I had never thought about it from a minister’s perspective. What do you do if you find you don’t believe, but being a minister is your job?”

Some of the answers about the reasons for clergy leaving the faith, often Christian in popular reportage, can be found in some of the narratives within the documentary Losing Our Religion co-directed by Mair and Leif Kaldor. What are the challenges faced by clergy who leave the institutional churches?

On May 18, 1 p.m. at the Carol Shields Auditorium at the Millennium Library, there will be a screening. As with most ex-religious commentary on Christianity, the main countries will be Canada, England, and the U.S.

Some of the clergy are reported as undercover. Others are open. Mair interviewed a woman named Catherine Dunphy from Toronto, Ontario. Dunphy was studying to be a Roman Catholic chaplain at the time. The time of leaving the faith

Dunphy said, “It was an accumulation of things… There was a disconnect between what I had heard from the pulpit and what I learned at seminary… When you put things like that under a microscope, it’s enough to turn anyone into an atheist.”

Dunphy became a humanist chaplain at the University of Toronto. She published From Apostle to Apostate and co-founded The Clergy Project. Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola may be familiar names to some of the audience here in relation to the project. It amounts to support for those who left their previous life’s work.

Dunphy continues to grieve the loss of a lifetime of belief in the institutional church. She found relief in it, though.

On the difficulty of leaving the church, Mair said, “When they tell people they’ve lost their faith, the rejection can be swift and mean… It’s like being gay in the 1950s — you don’t dare tell anyone.”

Centre for Inquiry-Manitoba will be sponsoring the showing of Losing Our Religion. Kaldor and Mair will take part in a Q & A. Duly note, the admission is free. But there has to be reservation of tickets through Eventbrite.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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