'Atheist of the Year' Fired From Harvard Uni. for Lying on Resume; Former Christian Minister-Turned-Atheist Admits Lie

A former Methodist minister-turned-atheist has been fired from her high-ranking post at Harvard University last week after it was discovered that she had falsified her resume.

Teresa MacBain was formerly a United Methodist pastor in Florida before announcing at the American Atheists convention in 2012 that she had lost her faith and had decided to become an atheist. MacBain's announcement led to a large amount of publicity, including the American Atheists organization naming her the "Atheist of the Year" for 2012. Additionally, she was named the organization's public relations director in the same year. 

Earlier in September, Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. offered MacBain the job of project director for the college's Humanist Community Project. The purpose of the newly-created project was to form local communities for humanists across the nation through schools and various organizations. MacBain's job would have been to travel to these various places to start the communities.

The New York Times profiled MacBain on her new position at the high-ranking university in an article that appeared earlier this month. The article claimed that MacBain had received a Master's of Divinity from Duke University. After the article ran, the newspaper was contacted by the university to clarify it had no record of MacBain's reception of a master's degree.

Greg Epstein, a humanist chaplain at Harvard and the executive director of the Humanist Community at Harvard, then released a statement on the nonprofit's website that read: "I am sad to report that Teresa MacBain left employment with the Humanist Community at Harvard today, and is no longer the director of our Humanist Community Project."

"We at HCH [Humanist Community at Harvard] have approached this situation as best we can, striving to apply our reason in the service of both fairness and compassion," Epstein contniued. "Many of us at HCH have come to care very much about Teresa as a person. We wish her the very best in the future. We will also learn a great deal from this experience as we move forward with energy and renewed determination."

MacBain also clarified in a statement on her Facebook that she had fabricated her resume.

"I have committed a grave error in judgment that I deeply regret. While I did not do anything with malice or with intention to harm others, my actions were still wrong. I take full responsibility for my inaccurate reporting of my education in the recent NYT article and offer my apologies to all of you," she wrote.

MacBain went on to state that she had attended Duke Divinity School under a special program for pastors switching dominations, but she had not obtained a standard Master's Divinity degree. She then added that although she did initially explain her real resume credentials, she did not correct reporters who assumed that she had received a Divinity degree from the university, and therefore her lie quickly spiraled out of control.

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