2007-12-15

“Recovery from Religion” – new website for ex-fundamentalists

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by Neil Godfrey

Marlene Winell is involved in building a new website, Recovery from Religion.

One of the most helpful things I found when leaving the world of religion was having opportunities to share my experiences with others also leaving their religions, and discovering in the process how similar are the psycho-social experiences of the faithful despite the vast external differences between their brands of affiliation, whether Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Moonies, Seventh Day Adventist and scores of other fundamentalist groups such as Potters House.

I am by no means a professional counsellor, but I put an advertisement in the local paper inviting any other ex-fundamentalists and ex-cultists to get together just to chat and share. We exchanged helpful literature, including Leaving the Fold by Marlene Winell. But it was the sharing of the experiences that was the most memorable. As believers none of us could have possibly imagined, let alone believed, that what we had experienced in our churches was shared by so many belonging to what we thought of as “false faiths” — the non-true-Christian others.

That experience I think helped us stabalize and collect our bearings for preparing us for a new life. We could see that what we had been through was not unique, but that we were a part of a wider experience shared by too many in society, and that we were a few of the fortunate ones to have woken from the coma existence of fantasies and dreams but that nontheless so often caused so much pain for so many others. For all our lost years we had a chance to start afresh.

I’m sure I’ve said this before (linked somewhere in my profile I suspect) that one of the disappointing moments in the recovery process was discovering that the rest of the world, religious and otherwise, shared so many of double-binds, the reluctance to question things too far, the fearful attachments to the known despite ongoing harm and damage. If religion can be said to be the people’s opiate I came to see some religions as the relatively harmless aspirins and others at the other end of a continuum as the deadly heroins, (with some happy but variably problematic marijuana pentecostal types in the middle??).

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the new Recovery From Religion site. It’s still got some construction work going on at the moment, but its not too soon to start sharing experiences there. It’s the sort of site I was once thinking of building, till I discovered others had already created specialist variations of it (e.g. Robert McNally’s blog and links) — and Marlene’s Recovery from Religion looks like shaping up to be more focussed on support materials for ex-fundamentalists/cultists generally.

Good on yer, Marlene. Look forward to the growth of your new site.

A word to ongoing fundamenatlists: No doubt you will see some “bad attitudes” expressed in some testimonials. I suspect some of you have taken your bad attitudes to God in prayer, however. The difference is not that one group of people are handing themselves over to “satan” — they are seeking healing for their pain in the real world, among friends and peers who understand. Believers who attempt the same in the isolation of the prayer closet will find themselves having to continually return there because they will forever need to live in fearful need of forgiveness. Those who let out their pain among friends can find reassurance and support that will enable them to leave their “bad attitudes” behind and move on with their lives — free from the fear that kept them begging forgiveness all their former lives (compare my discussion of the sermon on the mount.)

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Neil Godfrey

Neil is the creator of Vridar. To read more about Neil, see our About page.

9 Comments

  • Geoff Hudson
    2007-12-16 00:39:31 UTC - 00:39 | Permalink

    Neil, you hav’nt mentioned Catholics. What opiate would you say they are on? Do they find it more difficult to come off their opiate than say fundamentalists or evangelicals? I recently read of one academic giving-up the opiate of the evangelicals for the opiate of the Catholics.

  • Geoff Hudson
    2007-12-16 02:28:45 UTC - 02:28 | Permalink

    Why the bias by yourself and others that you cite against fundamentalists then Neil? As paranoid as I am, the bias gives me the impression of a Catholic conspiracy to undermine fundamentalists, very much like the Catholic owned and moderated Infidels Discussion Group – you have to ask why are so many of its members are avatars of the ether? And I am convinced that a number of academics are not all they seem to be either, occupying evangelical posts, but undercover Catholics.

  • 2007-12-16 13:43:17 UTC - 13:43 | Permalink

    Nor did I mention Anglicans, Methodists, Christadelphians, Presbyterians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Episcopalians, Eastern Orthodox, Raelians, Church of Christ, New Agers, Spiritualists, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites, Baptists, Exclusive Brethren, pagans, pantheists, or Freemasons or Rosicrucians or hundreds of others.

    Some evangelicals have given up their religion for catholicism, others for atheism, others for something completely mainstream.

    I do believe in a few historical and contemporary “conspiracies”, but only those for which I have read falsifiable evidence (e.g. A published thesis titled “High and Dry” by Guy Pearse in which he demonstrates a cabal of big business interests conspiring against Australia’s political involvement in environmental reforms.)

    Most conspiracy theories are so last millennium, constructed out of speculation, suspicion, prejudice and in defiance of awareness of what would be required in the real world to carry them out.

    Marlene Winell, as far as I understand, is not interested in bashing religion, but in helping people affected by toxic religion. Most of those right now are ex-fundamentalists. But there can be fundamentalist ways of thinking across many religious and other belief systems (Catholics included). My interest is much the same, as well as in promoting clarity and rationality of thought to the object of fundamentalist beliefs, the bible.

  • John
    2007-12-16 17:05:08 UTC - 17:05 | Permalink

    No need for a conspiracy Geoff , religion undermines itself it doesnt need a lot of help .
    Not while its full of the blind leading the blind , it just becomes plain obvious .

  • Geoff Hudson
    2007-12-17 00:29:53 UTC - 00:29 | Permalink

    John, religion also promotes itself with big bucks. The Vatican isn’t exactly a small business, and it always seems to be able to buy itself out of any difficulty. And I am fully convinced of the Vatican’s intent to use the power of the internet to promote itself by fair means or foul. One centre of such internet activity seems to be Loyola University, Chicago.

    From the point of view of the Catholic church, it doesn’t matter too much if the religion of others is undermined, particularly if the undermining causes folk to seek the ‘authority’ of the ‘established’ church and its Pope. One good example is the Jesus Puzzle written by the so-called Earl Doherty, who no-one can trace. To me, the Jesus Puzzle was a typical Catholic scam to undermine the beliefs of others, but at the same time was used by scholars, both Catholic non-Catholic as a stalking horse, in effect creating exactly the effect its backers (the work was obviously bankrolled) wanted, namely confusion of others.

  • 2007-12-17 04:11:28 UTC - 04:11 | Permalink

    Geoff Hudson’s comments demonstrate an anti-catholicism I have not encountered for many years and had thought was long dead. But I see from a wikipedia article of variable quality that this is a phenomenon still found perhaps more frequently in the United States.

    See wikipedia’s article, Anti-Catholicism, for the historical and cultural background to where Geoff appears to be coming from.

  • Geoff Hudson
    2007-12-17 07:33:17 UTC - 07:33 | Permalink

    Dear Neil

    My anti-Catholocism has been conceived from relatively recent experiences with some academics and their stooges on the web, and was in no way preconceived. It applies to a narrow but nevertheless powerful and well funded group, probably Jesuit, operating in the lying tradition of St Ignatious of Loyola. And I gave one example of it, namely the Jesus Puzzle, supposedly written by Earl Doherty. Its supposed athenticity appears to have fooled a number of academics including Darrell Bock (a supposed evangelical), Burton Mack, Domminic Crossan, Richard Carrier, Mark Goodacre, Michael Turton and James Crossley.

    I count a number of ordinary Catholics among my friends.

  • 2007-12-17 09:09:10 UTC - 09:09 | Permalink

    Unless you can substantiate your claim that The Jesus Puzzle is an example of some sort of Catholic conspiracy others are entitled to treat your assertion as they would a claim that unicorns and the tooth fairy are real. I am disappointed you have not been up front about where you have been coming from in your posts till now. But it is clear now why you have never gone past assertions that are tangential to the topics at hand, without any supporting argument or evidence.

  • John
    2007-12-17 21:19:36 UTC - 21:19 | Permalink

    Geoff Hudson Says: religion also promotes itself with big bucks .

    Yes Geoff i agree with you ! . Its almost embarrassing watching them try to peddle their wares on tv . And even those that dont many of them are still built around big bucks , their votes contributed towards who ever they see the biggest windfall coming from etc .

    Thanks for the blog and the link to that new site Neil , i will visit it out of interest . As an ex member of the exclusive brethren i fully believe in conspiracies . Check out this site if your interested http://web.archive.org/web/20130804175109/http://www.peebs.net/

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