Pastor Justin Vollmar’s revelation that he’s now an atheist captured a plethora of attention Monday. So far, the ex-preacher said that reaction has been “explosive,” with Christians lamenting his de-conversion and atheists expressing their excitement over his so-called “coming out.”
The former Christian leader, who has spent the past few years releasing sign-language videos explaining Biblical concepts, has now penned an op-ed for CNN offering an in-depth recap of his journey into non-belief.
In sharing his testimony, Vollmar also noted that he wants to help Christians “break free from their traditions and superstitions.”
He detailed joining the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist sect at age 18 and his eventual transition to the belief that there is no God. Among the details, Vollmar said his faith was first shaken when he was not treated well while serving in a pastoral role after college.
“I was a pastor in Silver Spring, Maryland, working 60 hours a week for little pay. My senior pastor was a harsh taskmaster, scolding me and always pushing me to work harder,” he wrote. “Meanwhile, he earned $80,000 a year and played golf two times a week. I lived in poverty and did not see my children much. I got burned out.”
Watch Vollmar announce his atheism below:
After he resigned from this post, he said his “faith in God was severely shaken” and he began having doubts about the Bible’s claims.
“I questioned whether God’s love, which is supposed to reside inside Christians, was real,” Vollmar continued.
After joining on staff at another church, he launched the Virtual Deaf Church ministry, which quickly grew. But those nagging doubt didn’t go away. He was haunted by so-called contradictions that he couldn’t get past.
“For example, how could dozens of Christian denominations fight and call each other false churches? Why are there thousands of conflicting interpretations among Christians?,” Vollmar added. “How could God be so loving when he will send millions to hell?”
It was a day in 2011 when he felt that he could no longer be a pastor. In a moment he described as “surreal,” he said that doubt simply overtook his heart. So, he resigned from the church where he was preaching and quit his pastoral profession entirely.
Still, he kept posting videos about Christianity to YouTube through his Virtual Deaf Church.
Then, he enrolled at Liberty University, a Christian school, where he graduated with a M.A. degree in theology in December. Ironically, it was during that educational experience that Vollmar’s doubts began leading him to atheism.
“After studying theology and philosophy, I realized the Bible was not the word of God,” he added. “Supernatural miracles did not happen. Jesus Christ was a mythical figure who did not rise from the dead.”
Vollmar’s vlogs will continue, though they are likely to take on an atheistic bent.
Read his entire story here.