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Ryan J. Bell
Ryan Bell is the founder, director, and senior consultant at Life After God and host of the Life After God podcast.

For 19 years Ryan was a pastor of small to medium-sized congregations which focused on community activism and service. In March 2013 he resigned from pastoral ministry due to theological and practical differences with the denomination and in January 2014 began a yearlong journey exploring the limits of theism and the atheist landscape in the United States called Year Without God and blogged about his experience. His story of gradual deconversion was covered by national an international news outlets including CNN, NPR, BBC, CBC, LA Times and Sunrise in Australia.

Ryan is a writer, educator and public speaker and has expertise in subjects ranging from religion, intercultural communication, bioethics an brewing coffee.

Ryan is currently a writer, educator, and public speaker on the topic of religion, irreligion and humanism in America. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan and a Doctor of Ministry in Missional Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

Entries by Ryan J. Bell

The End of Atheism?

(102) Comments | Posted December 2, 2015 | 4:47 PM

In January of 2014, after a long, 19-year career as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, three theological degrees, and the slow liberalization of my belief system, I began a personal exploration of atheism that I called, Year Without God. I set out to understand the world without my "god glasses" on....

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Leniency or Amnesty for Victims of Campus Sexual Violence? The Role of Religion

(2) Comments | Posted September 25, 2015 | 12:42 PM

Schools around the country are struggling to address what some say is an epidemic of sexual violence. The U.S. Department of Education, members of both houses of Congress, and well as many academics and non-profit leaders, have been involved in crafting guidelines for college and universities to use...

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A Year Without God Becomes Life After God

(129) Comments | Posted September 2, 2015 | 11:31 AM

What happens when you spend six months or a year or five years wondering about the existence of God and concluding that there is, at best, no compelling reason to believe? In particular, what happens when you experience this loss of faith after having been born into and continually immersed...

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Black Bachelorette Hopeful Resigns Over Racial Discrimination

(2) Comments | Posted September 25, 2014 | 3:25 PM


The recent killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer shocked majority American culture. But speak to black Americans and they reveal that as sad and angering as this latest episode is, it is anything but surprising. And every time an...

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Please, Let's Not Start With the #NotAllChristians Foolishness

(26) Comments | Posted June 12, 2014 | 9:40 AM

The #NotAllMen meme has been running its course over the past few week with helpfully responses from #AllWomen who remind us all (but especially men) that while not all men are misogynistic jerks, all women are subjected to those who are. I actually...

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Ein Jahr ohne Gott: ein ehemaliger Pfarrer auf dem Weg zum Atheisten

(0) Comments | Posted January 7, 2014 | 12:44 PM


Welchen Unterschied macht Gott?

Vor etwa einem Jahr erzählte mir eine befreundete Pfarrerin der episkopalen Kirche, dass ihr genau diese Frage von einem atheistischen Freund gestellt wurde. Die Frage war komplizierter als anfangs gedacht. Ihr Freund hatte ihre ersten Erklärungsversuche widerlegt, sodass sie nun meine Meinung...

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A Year Without God: A Former Pastor's Journey Into Atheism

(377) Comments | Posted December 31, 2013 | 11:53 AM

What difference does God make?

About a year ago a friend and Episcopal priest, told me her atheist friend asked her this question. She found it harder to answer than she expected. He had batted away her first few attempts and she was now running it by me. We didn't...

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Church in Trans*ition: An Interview With H. Adam Ackley

(4) Comments | Posted October 16, 2013 | 1:29 PM

On 2013-10-15-1383015_170403609828212_352867380_n.jpg Friday, October 4, Professor H. Adam Ackley said a painful farewell to students, alumni and colleagues after 15 years of serving Azusa Pacific University (APU) as Professor of Theology. The break came after Dr. Ackley, formerly, Heather Clements, informed the administration that...

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When Everything Looks Like a Nail: Governor Brown's Non-solution to Prison Overcrowding

(4) Comments | Posted August 29, 2013 | 2:44 PM

As a well-known proverb says, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail," and the solution to every problem becomes, "a bigger hammer." This appears to be the logic of Governor Jerry Brown when it comes to the crisis festering in the California prison system.


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Down the Rabbit Hole: What's Really at Stake With Domestic Surveillance?

(7) Comments | Posted June 20, 2013 | 2:15 PM

The last few weeks have seen major developments in the public's understanding or misunderstanding of the U.S. intelligence community's activities. These revelations and the ongoing effort to either verify or debunk the claims of people like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have created tense conversations among people who are usually...

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Our God Is Undocumented

(54) Comments | Posted March 22, 2013 | 3:57 PM

This past Sunday one worship service was not enough for the members of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church and the dozens of other congregations that are members of the San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP). By 3 o'clock in the afternoon the Revs. Richard Smith and Gloria del...

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Searching for God in Ciudad Juárez

(4) Comments | Posted March 8, 2013 | 7:08 AM

Nowhere is the human toll of our American consumption more obvious than in the United States/Mexico border region. And nowhere is the border nightmare more clearly visible than in Ciudad Juárez.

Our group of 10 delegates from around the United States and Latin America came to Ciudad Juárez to learn...

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The War on Christmas

(48) Comments | Posted December 22, 2012 | 6:23 PM

Every year, around Thanksgiving, with an apparent lack of more important issues to discuss, the cable news media revives the old cold war.

Not that Cold War, of course. The fear today is not of communists infiltrating our society to take away our precious freedoms and...

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The Ice Is Breaking: One Woman's Campaign to Affirm Queer Christian Youth

(31) Comments | Posted November 16, 2012 | 9:40 AM

The first thing you notice about Crystal Cheatham is her effusive energy and contagious optimism. She's on a mission. Already, at the age of 27, she is making an impact on the world through her music and her activism. Crystal is a singer/songwriter, a committed Christian, a lesbian and a...

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Voting in Hope

(1) Comments | Posted November 5, 2012 | 3:18 PM

Important decisions will be made tomorrow as Americans go to the polls. Not ultimate decisions, perhaps, but important, life-changing decisions nonetheless.

2012-11-05-hopeandfear.jpgFour years ago, Barack Obama campaigned on Hope. Many of us got drawn into that narrative, believing that the decision before us...

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Can We Afford to Be Neutral? Christianity and Civic Engagement

(13) Comments | Posted September 11, 2012 | 12:49 PM

Christians have an important decision to make this election season: if and how to be involved. Political discourse often turns so ugly and aggressively partisan that it is tempting for people of faith to excuse themselves from being involved altogether. But when we consider how high the stakes are for...

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The Bi-National Caravan for Peace

(0) Comments | Posted August 21, 2012 | 6:01 PM

The Caravan for Peace left the San Diego-Tijuana border on Sunday, Aug. 12 and arrived in Los Angeles the next day, the first stop on a 26-city tour, carrying the message of peace and an end to the U.S.-sponsored war on drugs to Washington, D.C. Leading this tour is the...

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Anti-Bullying Advocates Bullied by Church

(99) Comments | Posted August 6, 2012 | 10:50 AM

When Carrol Grady received a phone call telling her that her organization, Someone To Talk To, was being disinvited from having a booth at this week's North American gathering of Seventh-day Adventist teachers because "this convention is not the right venue for your group," she was...

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Clergy to Wells Fargo: Time for Deep Soul Searching

(11) Comments | Posted April 26, 2012 | 3:46 PM

As Christians continue to celebrate the Easter season we are reminded of an important biblical story that should serve as a clear warning to Wells Fargo and the nation's other largest banks about the danger of closing its eyes to the pain and suffering they continue to inflict by mass...

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An Ash Wednesday Fast for Justice

(0) Comments | Posted February 21, 2012 | 9:27 PM

On Ash Wednesday Christians from a wide variety of traditions will begin the 40-day season of Lent. It is a time of fasting and repentance; of re-thinking our priorities and commitments. Some Christian leaders in San Francisco - Catholics and Protestants alike - will also be protesting the injustice that...

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