Are you looking for a leaving religion group? Are you considering leaving your religious life? Are you looking for information about leaving religion support groups? Are you a man looking for a community of nonbelievers to belong to? You have come to the right place if you answered yes to one or all of the questions.
My name is Sean Galla, a facilitator for online support groups and forums dedicated to men. For more than ten years, I have overseen dozens of support groups that cater to the needs of men and help men lead better, meaningful lives, including leaving religious groups and forums.
Part of my journey has involved working with men who have chosen to leave their religious affiliations looking for a safe space to belong as they focus on recovering from religion. We offer a nonreligious space where men can question issues and beliefs and find answers to lifelong questions.
This article will talk about recovering from religion and why it is important to belong to a leaving religion group. Here is everything you need to know.
Table of Contents:
What Is a Leaving Religion Group?
A leaving religion group is a type of support forum for people looking for new communities to belong to after leaving their religious communities and beliefs. A leaving religion group offers a safe space for new nonbelievers or religion doubters to find answers and access mental health support for trauma brought about by their religious experience.
By 2021, less than 50% of Americans had a religious identity or belonged to a church, mosque, or synagogue, with only 60% of people in America actively affiliating with Mormonism, Islam, Christian catholic religious beliefs, or any belief in god. This is a drop compared to the numbers of religious people recorded over ten years ago, showing a significant shift in how people perceive religious affiliations today.
Most people who choose to separate themselves from religiosity are young adults and young people who do not see the value added by organized religion. Some of the reasons given by these millennials for their loss of faith and not belonging to any religious organizations include:
- Most young people have never had strong ties to religion growing up, meaning they are less likely to develop habits or associations in their adulthood.
- Young adults couples mainly comprise one non-religious spouse, which reinforces the couple’s secular worldview.
- Changing views on the correlation between morality and religion have convinced most young parents that religious institutions are irrelevant or unnecessary.
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The growing number of unaffiliated nonbelievers demographic clearly indicates the need for leaving religious groups to offer support, help, and access to resources for people leaving religion and survivors of religious trauma.
The primary focus of a leaving religion group is to provide members going through religious change with practical and personalized peer support as they navigate their new non-belief lifestyle. This can range from emotional to psychological support through the deconversion transition period.
A leaving religion support group puts members in the company of other nonbelievers who walked the same journey. Being in a company of like-minded individuals can change how new members approach their new life, ensuring they thrive in their new disaffiliation environment.
How a Typical Leaving Religion Group Meeting Looks Like
Generally, leaving religious groups can discuss a wide range of topics, depending on the members’ needs. The groups are overseen by peer facilitators who decide on the agenda and general direction of a meeting. A typical meeting can comprise members opening up about their experiences and feelings related to their changing beliefs.
Some of the topics discussed at a meetup include:
- Loss or grief about leaving a belief or religious community
- Handling the feeling of betrayal for your Christianity or other religious belief
- Overcoming the lingering fear or doubt about leaving your religion
- Relationships management with people in your life who still believe
- Overcoming feelings of anger from years of being manipulated, coerced, or held back by the beliefs or religion
- Letting go of shame or guilt feelings
- Available opportunities for education and personal growth
- Meeting personal goals and sources of happiness and comfort
If you are concerned about the possibility of being indoctrinated again through a support group, most support groups for leaving religion do not support preaching and prohibit proselytizing and evangelizing. Also, practices based on supernatural beliefs like faith or healing are not endorsed.
This is done to maintain a safe space for group members to head and recover from religious trauma. The best groups are led by trained facilitators who understand and offer the help you need through your journey.
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Why Leaving Religious Groups Are Important
When you first decide to leave your religion, you realize that the process can be challenging. Depending on how deeply rooted your beliefs were, you may struggle with mental health issues, self-acceptance, and even self-doubt for making your decision. The healing process from religious trauma syndrome requires you to rethink and change your mentality on deep foundations that created the basis of your life.
Becoming a nonbeliever means that you alienate the believers in your life, risking a job, your safety, and even access to your family or children. While you may be happy and sure of your decision to let go of your religious affiliation, the transition can be traumatic.
Joining a leaving religion group gives you the support, resources, and help you need to navigate the changes in your life without losing your mind in the process. These support groups are safe havens for anyone in the process of leaving their religion looking for a supportive, non-judgmental space to help through these changes.
The primary purpose of support groups such as mensgroup.com and organizations such as Recovering from Religion and the Apostasy Project is to help its members by providing practical resources, guidance, and support to anyone in need of support. These groups and organizations offer support to apostates, including ex-Muslims, ex-Jehovah’s witnesses, ex-evangelical christens, ex-protestants, and even ex-Mormons.
These groups also give members access to non-believing therapists through the secular therapy project to ensure their recovery process is completely based on their need to become better and not a therapist’s belief system.
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Addressing religious trauma syndrome
A big part of the time spent in leaving religion group is centered on addressing the effects of religious trauma on the members.
RTS or Religious Trauma Syndrome is a mental condition that occurs to individuals struggling with recovering from religion. It often follows trauma caused by breaking away from a controlling environment, a lifestyle, or a religious figure. In some cases, the symptoms exhibited by patients of RTS are similar to those of C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) patients.
While it is a real condition, Religious Trauma Syndrome is not considered to be an actual diagnosis, which is why it is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5). This does not make it a non-existent condition as it affects millions of people annually.
Religion is one of the most weaponized belief systems where most of the people in charge twist saying and teachings to fit their agendas. Guilt, condemnation, and shame are the most harmful messages commonly communicated in religious organizations, leading to deep mental wounds and lasting psychological damage.
Religious trauma syndrome occurs when a former believer is isolated from his community because they are assumed to be misguided or evil because of thinking differently from the teachings. Having a different way of thinking is met with an intentional effort to be disconnected and shunned by society. This causes trauma, often leaving the person feeling condemned or bad even after leaving the religious system.
Religious trauma syndrome can also occur in people who follow belief systems. These people can often go to extremes of avoiding nonbelievers and living in isolation as a way of staying away from evil. Living in isolation causes trauma to individuals. It impacts how these believers see the world, sometimes causing them to ignore problems and instead replace worry with continual optimism and faith, waiting for a higher power to fix the issues. This is often referred to as toxic positivity.
Religious trauma can have varying effects on different people. It often leads to very low self-esteem and robs the victim of their self-worth and identity.
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Examples and symptoms of religious trauma include:
- Telling people who experience a same-sex attraction that their feelings are sinful and emphasizing the need to repent.
- Calling for physical discipline or beating believers into submission to “save their soul.”
- Subjecting unmarried pregnant women to sanctions and ostracizing them from the community or congregation. This makes her feel confusion, guilt, shame, or depression due to religious indoctrination or beliefs that make her believe she is a bad person.
- Forcing followers to take a majority of their financial resources should support the religious organization, causing financial hardship.
Seeking Support in a Leaving Religion Group
Religious trauma is more pervasive and universal than imagines. It is important for someone recovering from religious trauma to remember that they are not alone. If you are finding it difficult to overcome the trauma, you can consider joining a leaving religion group.
This comprises other people recovering from religion and religious faith doubters willing to offer a helping hand to someone looking for support and help in their journey.
MensGroup is a leading men-only support group that can be the helpline for any man coming out from religious trauma. We understand how difficult it is for men to find supportive communities to share freely and ask for support. MensGroup offers a safe place for men to heal and create a new supportive, nonjudgmental community around them.
As an online support group, meetings take place in zoom. Whether you are in the heart of New York or Kansas City, you can join in at any time.
Whether you were an evangelical Christian, Jehovah’s witnesses, or anything in between, the process of recovering from religion and identifying as agnostic or atheist can be complicated and different from one person to the next.
This process can often leave you doubting yourself and questioning whether you are doing the right thing. Connecting with people who have gone through a similar experience in a leaving religion group like Men’s Group, and seeking the services of a therapist are excellent steps towards a recovery process, making healthy decisions for your mental and emotional well-being, and creating a new future for yourself.
*Sources: 1. Why America’s ‘nones’ left religion behind 2. Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back 3. WHY MILLENNIALS ARE LEAVING RELIGION BUT EMBRACING SPIRITUALITY 4. Leaving Church and Religion Without Losing Spirituality or Faith 5. Religious disaffiliation