The United Church of Canada voted to defrock atheist minister Gretta Vosper.
"In our opinion, she is not suitable to continue in ordained ministry because she does not believe in God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit," the church's Toronto Conference Review Committee said, according to the Toronto Star.
"After prayer and much discussion," the committee decided Vosper was "unsuitable to continue serving."
Vosper "came out" as an atheist in 2001.
"After I spontaneously preached a sermon in which I completely deconstructed the idea of a god named God, rather than fire me, the congregation chose to step out on an unmarked path. With them, I've labored, lamented, lost and loved. It's (a) hard road but a worthy one with no finish line in sight," Vosper writes.
Vosper writes that people can live compassionate lives with or without God, and has taken a proactive role in fighting for freedom from religion.
"Where it may once have seemed justifiable, ours is not a time in which personal religious beliefs can be welcomed into the public sphere; we can no longer claim that the impact of religion on political and social structures is purely beneficial," Vosper writes. "This truth is obvious in the shadow of Paris, Ottawa and countless other tragedies. We must boldly stand with those who would clear the public sphere from the prejudices of religious belief even as we defend the rights of individuals to hold whatever beliefs allow them to sleep at night."
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