(Photo courtesy Sarah Morehead / RR )
An atheist group has announced plans to create a hotline help number for the benefit of those who have decided to leave religion but are struggling to find support.
Recovering From Religion, a secular company seeking to provide people leaving their religious views with various resources, hopes to raise $30,000 by June 30 for "The Hotline Project."
"Recovering From Religion is launching a brand new campaign to start The Hotline Project. With your help, the Secular Movement can provide a valuable service for people struggling with their faith, with nowhere to turn," reads an entry on their website.
"The Hotline will provide trained volunteers to answer a toll-free hotline and provide real time, caller-specific support to each person who contacts us, 24/7… By providing this Hotline service, Recovering from Religion will be able to help people in their most urgent time of need."
Sarah Morehead, executive director for Recovering From Religion, told The Christian Post that the hotline will not be "an 'atheist deconversion' phone line."
"That is not the purpose nor the intent. Responders will absolutely not urge any form of belief or disbelief. In fact, our volunteers will be specifically trained to never debate callers under any circumstances," said Morehead. "It's not our place to do anything but encourage exploration and discovery, and to provide a solid support structure as people reconsider the role of religion in their lives. For many, this is a long process and we will be with them every step of the way."
According to Morehead, as of Tuesday her organization has been able to raise approximately $1,700 for The Hotline Project.
"The biggest costs for the Hotline Project are, first and foremost, the call management software system. We'll be using the same system used by other major crisis lines," said Morehead. "The other major expenses will be volunteer recruitment and training, which will involve vetting volunteers to ensure they are a good fit for the type of work this will involve. Also we're having our training program reviewed by independent and currently practicing psychologists in order to ensure standards of care are met and adequate quality control is in place."
While Recovering From Religion hopes to gain the necessary support for such an effort by the end of June, others are skeptical of their project.
Bryan Fischer, director of Issues Analysis at American Family Association, told CP that human beings "have been running from God since the days of Jonah."
"But to run away from God is to run away from life, forgiveness, hope, strength, and the promise of eternal life and to run toward death, emptiness, darkness and hopelessness. What do these secularists want people to run to?" said Fischer.
"Many people will, like Jonah, regret turning their backs on God and will come running back. The AFA and many other organizations stand ready to welcome them home and help them reconnect with God."
When asked by CP if he felt the atheist group would reach their fundraising goal, Fischer replied that "this effort is doomed to fail."
"I can't imagine a more fruitless and depressing endeavor than trying to raise money to help people create distance between themselves and God," said Fischer. "God isn't going anywhere, and the Scriptures make clear in places like Psalm 139 that's impossible to flee the presence of God even if you want to. He will always stand ready to draw near to anyone who wants to draw near to him, no matter how far from him they've tried to get."
Founded in 2009 by author Dr. Darrel Ray, Recovering From Religion boasts of having support groups in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.