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‘I was six months shy of my ordination when, in my gut, I didn’t believe in God’

When Joe Armstrong entered the seminary at age 18, he was sure he would be a priest until his dying day. What followed, however, was almost a decade of wrestling with his faith. His doubts, coupled with the profound effect his first kiss had on him, eventually led to him walking away – not just from the Church, but from his belief in the divine

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Joe Armstrong. Portrait by Fran Veale

Joe Armstrong. Portrait by Fran Veale

Joe Armstrong (right) at an ordination ceremony in June 1988

Joe Armstrong (right) at an ordination ceremony in June 1988

In My Gut, I Don't Believe by Joe Armstrong is published by Glebe Press, £9.99

In My Gut, I Don't Believe by Joe Armstrong is published by Glebe Press, £9.99

Joe Armstrong is now a humanist celebrant. Photograph: Fran Veale

Joe Armstrong is now a humanist celebrant. Photograph: Fran Veale

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Joe Armstrong. Portrait by Fran Veale

Joe Armstrong is thinking back to the young man he was 40 years ago. What would the 18-year-old trainee priest of 1981 have thought about the person he would be come?

I think he would have been horrified,” Armstrong says. “He would have thought what I was doing was wrong and sinful and he would try to get me to mend my ways.”


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