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One of the respondents to yesterday’s There May be a Reason for Atheist Pastors quoted the Dennett report’s conclusion. Part of it says that:

Perhaps the best thing their congregations can do to help them is to respect their unspoken vows of secrecy, and allow them to carry on unchallenged; or perhaps this is a short-sighted response, ultimately just perpetuating the tightly interlocking system that maintains the gulf of systematic hypocrisy between clergy and laity.

This is advice from people who don’t care about the theological integrity of the churches—nor, apparently, about the intellectual integrity of the unbelieving pastors themselves—and thoughts about Greeks bearing gifts and wolves dressed up as grandmothers come to mind.

I wonder what they’d think if the spokesman for an atheist organization became a born again Christian but needed the job, so hid his conversion from his bosses and continued to speak like an atheist in public. If they found out, would they let him continue (perhaps glad for the evidence of Christian hypocrisy)?

Or would they be upset that he was lying to them and to others? Even if they were not so concerned for consistency between the inner and outer man—“transparency,” in the jargon of the day— as are Christians, would they trust him to do his best for the atheist cause? Wouldn’t they worry, and quite rightly too, that he was not working as hard as he should, not putting enough of his creative energy into his work, not pondering the cause at home, not reading up on the subject in his spare time? Could they be sure he would not some day in some way embarrass them? Could they be sure he wouldn’t someday use his position as an atheist spokesman to hurt the atheist cause?

Would they respect his unspoken vow of secrecy? I have my doubts.

But Christians are—alone, I suspect, of all communities and enterprises—supposed to accommodate people who have lost or rejected the public commitments of the institution that employs them and expects their full and unqualified loyalty. We are advised to let our leaders secretly reject the thing they are pledged to commend and advocate. Think of a wooden horse.

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