Video Interview: A Seminary Project on Atheism

Drew Interview 1

A group of seminary students recently completed a project on how to effectively counsel an atheist. They are studying in a Masters program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Chicago’s Moody Theological Seminary, and yep, that’s the very same school that I had attended. And one of the students working on this group project had grown up attending Bethel Community Church, where I had served on part-time pastoral staff for seven years.

Now, this project of theirs didn’t have to be on atheism. As I understand it, the goal was to explore what it would be like to provide therapy for someone unlike yourself. It worked to try and eliminate assumptions and straw men, to increase empathy for clients you may have a hard time identifying with, and to honestly help clients without bias — even when the counselor works from an explicitly Christian perspective. The professor had given them the option of picking their subject, and this group of students decided to tackle atheism. What would it be like for a Christian therapist to counsel an atheist?

It’s hard for me to envision an atheist seeking counsel from a Christian, but that’s beside the point. I think it’s encouraging and incredibly refreshing to know that some young seminarians would even want to get inside the head of an atheist for explicitly constructive purposes — and as I was told, with no agenda to convert. Pretty noble, if you ask me. Certainly good steps in the right direction.

So as this group started putting together their project plan, of course an interview with a former student from their very own Moody Seminary, one who was now an open atheist, seemed like a perfect fit. And since one project member had known me personally from my ministry at Bethel, the interview was an easy go. He contacted me March 6 to see if I was interested, and we sat down together in the Moody student center on the afternoon of March 26. This was only my second interview since becoming an atheist, and he and I spent nearly two hours together.

During the interview, I found one moment more striking than any other. And it wasn’t anything I had said. After being asked about the influences that led to my atheism, my interviewer turned his camera off and responded in a moment of disbelief:

“Wow, this disproves everything we normally believe about atheism.”

Yes. Yes, it does, my friend. Yes, it most certainly does…

So what results is the video below. It had to be chopped into shorter segments for the class presentation. But nearly the full video with just enough editing to keep it under an hour is available below. Enjoy and feel free to leave your comments below!

Click here for the video: 

Drew Interview 2

 “An Interview with Drew Bekius on Atheism”

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13 comments

  1. Dude, that was a solid interview. I found myself saying, “Yep, ahuh, yep, right on.” When I came out to my first friend last Friday, he asked me that question “What have you read that inspired to become an atheist?” Really nothing. I mean I did interact with atheists but it was just the bible and Christian theology and practice that just proved unreal. Though when I was in denial about my atheism I did listen to the album “We Are All Where We Belong” by Quiet Company. But I found myself only agreeing with everything sung.

    The only thing I wish you would have said during the interview, and you did kind of allude to it, was atheists literally have nothing in common except for the answer to one single question. What does a state of happiness look like to an atheist? I don’t know, what does it look like to a black person, or an Alaskan, or a New Yorker, or an author, or a foodie? We are all different. We don’t have the same goals. We don’t agree on what happiness is. We only agree that there is not sufficient evidence to believe a God exists.

    Great job man. I’m sharing this with my friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks PNF, and yes, as I’ve held our two stories side by side, I’ve seen several similarities as well. As far as the things atheists hold in common, I might not have used quite the same phrase as what you have, but that’s what I was trying to get at by defining atheism and then saying that atheists are as varied as humanity itself. All atheism means is that we do not embrace belief in God. But since the interview was for a project on how Christian counselors might set bias aside and provide therapy for atheists, he asked that I at least address some common issues even if they aren’t definitive of “all” atheists. So that’s what I tried to do, for good or for bad..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I can’t say enough how awesome you did. I’ve already sent it out to some of my Christian friends.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Superb interview. As I was telling John, I’m always amazed how similar the deconversion stories are, and ultimately, our outlook on life. I could identify with nearly everything you said.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Victoria. I will have to check your story and blog out. We all have to stick together, you know;)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for this. I just came across your blog today for the first time. You articulated so clearly what I have felt and experienced but haven’t been able to clearly communicate to my immediate family, because no matter what I say, they continue to think I’m just “mad at God” and “choosing a life of sin.” (They are Moody alum as well.) Never mind that I am happier, more joyful, and living life with more integrity than I ever did as an evangelical. I spent so many years trying to “die to self” that I forgot how to truly live. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for saying hello, E!

      And thank you for sharing a little of your story. Wow, the family of Moody grads! I guess that makes us step-siblings or something;)) Buy you’re right, evangelicals tend to have a hard time envisioning legitimate reasons for non-belief in their god. It can be so frustrating and even lonely. But I’m glad to hear that their assumptions haven’t sabotaged your happiness and joy:)

      Thanks again. It was great to hear from you!

      Like

  4. Dutch Thomas · · Reply

    I just saw your entire interview. Believe it or not (pun intented), 48 hours ago I was still on the Christian side after battling doubts for 5 years. Been a Christian for 30 years, BA in theology included. After self-diagnosis on Saturday night I concluded one thing: shoot, I have totally lost my faith; just tried to keep the corpse alive all those years!

    This was the first time I have listened to an atheist and actually felt comfortable and agreed with everything :-). Thanks for your careful explanation and your refrain to enter into the “new-atheism” battering of religion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Dutch, just 48 hours ago! That’s amazing! 5 years of struggle and now you are free! Congratulations. But if your journey is anything like mine, you might be feeling a slight touch of grief or bitterness about the absence of God. But that’s okay. It’s normal. And if you don’t feel a sense of loss, well, I suppose that’s even better. Welcome to the world of freethought, my friend. Welcome:)

      Like

      1. Dutch Thomas · ·

        Thank you! Oh yes, there is bitterness, grief, disillusion, confusion… add a christian wife, 3 children and current ministry in the mix and it’s just about the strangest experience of my life. I feel like praying all the time, cause heck, it has only been 30 years of praying-whenever-crisis-hits-you. Signed up for the Christians Anonymous group too (aka Clergy Project) so maybe I’ll see you there too.

        Like

  5. Sam Blondell · · Reply

    I grew up with Drew in the same small town high school and still live in the same general area. I am also an atheist and find it difficult sometimes to “come out” as such. If this guy can do it than I don’t see any reason for myself or anybody else to hide their beliefs (or lack of) anymore. Thanks Drew!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sam! Great to hear from you! I was just in Minnesota for my brother’s wedding this past weekend. You’re right though, it’s not always easy letting people see your true self. But even more important than their embrace of your true self is your own. Some are always looking for an excuse to judge and walk away unfortunately, and others will stick with you no matter what. But the most important thing is that you are able to personally recognize who you are and make the most of it. Just be yourself and live your life. Those who are unwilling to walk this earth with you don’t deserve to anyway. Just live your life. And live it to the fullest. Again, great hearing from you, Sam. Hope to see you around…

      Like

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