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LINK Breaking Up: Why Is Leaving Religion So Hard? Hasidic

When a believer exits a religion, both sides suffer — the leavers and the stayers. Both grieve for different reasons but with the same result: everyone feels rejected and unloved. The stayers sense emotional and spiritual betrayal in the exodus of a former congregant, often a close friend or kin, while leavers are often broadly shunned afterward for their perceived disloyalty and betrayal of unspoken group expectations.

Nobody’s happy, but the religious divorcee, suddenly marooned in a new spiritual wilderness, often feels relieved, liberated, actualized in the real world. Yet, the scorn of former co-conspirators in the life of religion left behind always stings, as ex-believers commonly attest.

zblaze 7 May 21

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I met a guy in the 70s who was a drinker. His church had tried to get him to quit drinking and he did not. So they threw him out and shunned him. Seeing as his family was in that church, they shunned him too. It was heartbreaking when he would talk about how if he ran into people he'd known all his life they would turn their back on him and not speak. He was raised in one of those religions that believe you only hang out with your own kind, so he actually didn't have any friends at all outside the church. It amazed me that his church could convince his own family to cut him out of their lives. Maybe with their support and help he could have stopped drinking, but instead became a lifelong alcoholic who not surprisingly had great difficulty starting and maintaining relationships.


For some folks religion is more of a tradition rather than a set of actual beliefs. At least it was like that for me so it was an easy thing to leave behind. No one really gave a damn apart from how they appeared to other family members. I didn't care then and still don't now.

Nardi Level 7 May 27, 2018

At the very least your wallet is 10 percent to the good and you gain a bunch of free time that is no longer wasted on religion. I can see why the religion would be upset at losing the money and the free labour but not sure why the person who is now free wouldn't be thrilled with their new freedom. Old habits die hard is the only explanation that comes to mind.


I was a Christian minister 25 years before de-converting. And now I work with the ex-religious everyday. Many of whom still suffer greatly over their “divorce” from faith.

What was for you the last straw? What made you de-convert?


I was "raised in the church". Denominations and sects changed, some approved, some not so much. Through the this and thin of it, people were the thick and thin. Then came my last confrontation with the people again. She disagreed with me on the politics (no big deal) and her version of the theology which was unnerving, I tried to let "the sleeping dog lie". Because one God, one church, many opinions. She wouldn't let it go. Her theology was an all or nothing approach which culminated on the last day of my visit, she saying, "You many you are? You're a wishy-washy Christian !". I was stunned. She was someone I loved and respected highly, so I took her admonishment to heart. God and the Christ were part and parcel of my consciousness since before I even had clue...about all ! I accepted the bundle, the Bible, the stories, the advice and the warnings, I accepted it, I believed it, believed it and I lived it (not necessarily very well...The "sins of the flesh stuff).
I made up my mind to find the truth about my God and put this difference of belief to rest.
I don't wish to bore you with two years of details, but in the end, the more I discovered and learned about this God of mine, the less I believed and accepted the stories and the liturgy and the theology presented to me.
I finally realized that THIS CAN'T BE TRUE ! It makes no sense, far too many convolution and inconsistencies. My reason brought about my time at war and college, could not even support the simple idea of the Christ as God's son. I've been coning to grips with this knowledge contrary to my life-long held beliefs and reason wins every debate, every argument , every threat, every piece of propaganda, without exception.
I should be broken hearted. I'm not. I should be happy. Also, not. It took me many decades, but i finally let go of my invisible, imaginary friend. Im not happy or angry about it. Hell is just as invisible and imaginary as he was, but I mIss him anyhow. He taught me many good and thoughtful lessons. He taught me love was better than hate, that generosity was better than greed, that forgiveness was better than grudges. I still call it "the. Good book" because it taught me how to be a gentle and reasonable being, just not a God, just my childhood friend, like Fred.
It wasn't easy to leave God and all the theology behind. I'm happy that I could bring the Good stuff along with me. Love to all. May you reach the height your dreams...without kicking others in the teeth.

Thank you.


In USA "leaving religion" is difficult because of McCarthyism. ...the fascist movement against labor unions and freethought. ...since the first MayDay USA has terrorized the activists for living wages single payer Healthcare and simple human rights FBI spied on Dr King and Quakers for peace. ...all are branded gawdless komnusts if resisting USA genocidal wars and greedy insurance scams. ...leaving religion ONLY HEALS VICTIMS AND CAUSES believers to reason why pushing them down the road to Atheism


Bloody hell - some people in a moment of lucidity need to seize some perspective


Why oh why, didn't I take the blue pill? 😉


I think Ignatius Loyola was the man who said "give me a child till he's six and i'll have him for life!" I think that is part of what makes it so hard as it plays into all insecurities so you can't leave it for fear of the worst thing happening on your watch -

I have never had a god nor did my parents but they had that same sort of insecurity.


I'd have to guess at why some people find it hard (and if I did guess, it would be a general loss of comfort). It took me awhile to get around to realizing religion wasn't for me but when I did leaving was easiest thing in the world to do, like water off a duck's back.

No one in my generally very religious Protestant family has ever expressed concern, or even surprise really, at my atheism. Sometimes I wonder if they'd been waiting for that to happen. And I sincerely doubt that anyone in the church I used to attend even noticed I'd left.

Wow, that is definitely not the norm. Religion is usually a large part of a church going families identity. A lot of the time it is a real struggle.

I'm glad it was easy for you, and thanks for your comment.

@zblaze, Sometimes I wonder how much the region one lives in has to do with the hold religion can have on people. For instance, in the Deep South where my Dad grew up "what church do you go to?" is usually the first question people ask when they meet you. On the other hand, in So. Calif. where I've lived all my life I have never been asked that question, not even by people I knew were very religious. It seems the regional importance of religion could have a bit of influence on how easy it is to leave.

@BooksCatsEtc Very true.


I think it's hard to lead a normal life after been brainwashed for years.

balou Level 8 May 21, 2018

This is such a foreign concept for me. I suppose I was lucky not to have been indoctrinated in a household. But at no time in my life did I ever think any god was real or did I ever feel the need to belong to any group that badly.


Never known anyone who left Hasidism. My extended family is very religious. Their lives revolve around their temples. They are Conservative and Orthodox. I was raised as a Reform Jew.

The documentary "One Of Us" is about one that left Hasidism, AND it's on Net Flicks.

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