A Note to Believers: In this and other pages on this site it is not my intention to attack any religious organization or the beliefs of anyone who is satisfied with her or his current religious experience. My aim as a psychotherapist with an interest in the psychology of religion is rather to reach people who, like myself, have for whatever reason found their former beliefs inadequate. My own experience of shattered faith would have been much less difficult had I known that others had gone through something similar. It is my hope that sharing what I have learned will help make things a little easier for others who have also left a "fold" that could no longer contain them.
As is often noted, quality of the material available on the web is extremely variable. While I don't necessarily agree with everything on all of the following sites, and have serious reservations about the tone of some, they offer a lot of information. Remember that the course of internet searching, as in "real" life, is often anything but direct. The internet is continually changing. While I try to periodically check this list, some of the following sites may no longer be active, but in surfing through the list you will likely discover other useful sources of information. Stay open to possibilities, follow your curiosity, and enjoy exploring! Be sure to explore the links that many of the sites I list provide. See where a search for "ex-yourgroup" takes you. Remember, you don't have to restrict yourself anymore!
The anti-cult sites in particular have a wealth of information on a great many groups. If the group in which you are interested is not listed, try the more general sites and use a search engine to locate other sites. Sites about groups other than the one to which you belonged may be helpful as the similarity of experience with a restrictive group regardless of apparent differences is often quite startling, especially if you have had the notion that your group is unique. Most likely you will find that you are not alone after all!
There are also links to religious/spiritual sites on my page,
I've written essays on and
A very accessible article by a scholar of religion on
by Marlene Winell, Ph.D. is the best book I have come across on the process of leaving a restrictive religious group. While Winell specifically addresses former fundamentist Christians, her insights can be applied to similar groups ranging from established churches to New Age cults. The book contains an extensive list of resources that would be useful for anyone seeking to broaden his/her spiritual horizon. Dr. Winell has coined the term "" to describe the harmful effects of authoritarian religion. See her website for further information.
A troubling aspect of many high demand groups, including some well established churches, is male dominance of women and children who have little or no voice in the community and often even their personal lives. Some Christian groups subscribe to so-called "Headship Theology" which asserts that, just as Christ is the head of the church, so men are the divinely appointed heads of their families and church communities whose authority must not be questioned. In other groups patriarchal oppression may be more subtle but still very much present. is the semi-autobiographical story of a woman growing up in the fundamentalist Church of Christ. The author, Deborah Cox, is a Springfield, Missouri clinical psychologist who has also co-authored two books on women's anger. s is a very readable anthology in which women from a wide variety of religions relate their experiences of sexist religious oppression.
The HBO documentary, is an outstanding exploration, based on the book of the same title, of one of the most extreme and abusive cultic groups. With eight former members telling the stories of their involvement it presents a convincing account of how intelligent people can be seduced by abusive leaders and irrational beliefs.
There are many Facebook groups and on-line discussion groups for ex-members of various churches and groups.
I am a former Seventh-day Adventist. You may be interested in my story: . I have also written a couple of articles with a historical focus: and There are also links to other Adventist related material on those pages.
a liberal Adventist journal with no official ties to the denomination, publishes dissenting views and scholarly studies that often diverge from the official General Conference line.
The internet has opened the door to a flood of information about the Adventist prophet and church founder, Ellen G. White, that was for many decades hidden and outright denied by church leaders. A lot of this information is available at .
For those who no longer accept the Adventist version of the gospel but continue to identify as Bible believers, here are a few of the many sites run by former Adventists who have adopted an Evangelical or Fundamentalist perspective that regards Adventist doctrines as heretical:
includes much information about controversal aspects of Adventist history and Ellen G. White
Also check out the many links from the above sites.
World Wide Church of God - Herbert W. & Garner Ted Armstrong
With shared 19th century roots, the World Wide Church of God and the Seventh-day Adventist Church have many similar beliefs and practices. And controversies. The and have a lot of information on “Armstrongism" with the latter also having information about the Philadelphia Church of God.
is a good place for questioning JW's as well as ex-JW's who are uncomfortable with the extreme views of both JW's and JW critics.
offers support for people who have been negatively affected by involvement with Watchtower teachings and practices.
provides entry into the Ex-Jehovah's Witness Web Ring.
Later Day Saints (Mormon)
has a lot of resources for for ex-LDS members.
Jenny Morrow is a Utah psychotherapist and ex-Mormon who does podcasts entitled "Ask An Ex-Mormon Therapist" which are available from iTunes or at .
For those who no longer want to be on the church books offers free legal representation for the often tedious process of officially resigning from the LDS.
Unification Church (Moonies)
goes into detail about the history, beliefs, and problems with the group founded by Sun Myung Moon. is the story of someone who was born into the Unification Church, had personal contact with Moon, and left as a young adult. is an expert on cults who for two and a half years was a Unification Church member.
The Way International (TWI)
is a blog by a former member of The Way International
is a forum for those who have been impacted by The Way
is the title of a book by a former member of The Way International
International Church of Christ/Boston Movement
includes information and resources for people who have been involved in ICC or other "discipling" groups.
is about Christian fundamentalism but anyone who has been involved with a high demand group will be able to relate to the author’s story.
is an account of controversies in the denomination that for many represents the fundamentalist establishment.
is a book that's become a classic, addressing questions such as "When does a church cross the line between conventional church status and fringe status? What is the nature of the process by which any given group devolves into a fringe church or movement? What are some of the signs or indicators that a given group is becoming abusive of its members and is headed for the margins? When should a member consider bailing out?"
One of my most surprising discoveries as a former believer in the Bible as the literal word of God, was that not all forms of Christianity limit believers to "Thus saith the Lord" pronouncements. If you "find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions than in the answers, have religious interests and longings but cannot accept the beliefs and dogmas you associate with Christianity, and are repelled by claims that Christianity is the only way,” you may be interested in .
Biblical scholars who approach the Bible as a historical document have come to some conclusions that present a serious challenge to the belief that the Bible is the inerrant and literal Word of God. " is an outstanding PBS Frontline presentation on early Christian history. despite the rather unfortunate title, is an excellent PBS Nova program about the history of the Hebrew Bible (also known as the "Old Testament" by Christians).
Humor is a great way to recover from religious abuse. If you can laugh about it, you are no longer caught in it. For a very well done parody of "holier than thou" fundamentalism that is often mixed with right wing politics, visit the (NOTE: This is definitely not a real church and may be offensive to some people!)
Ultra-Orthodox & Chasidic Judaism
“provides educational, vocational, and social support to those seeking to enter or explore the world beyond the insular ultra-religious communities in which they were raised.”
is a New York Times Magazine article about Footsteps and the people involved in it that may also be of interest for anyone who grew up in a strict religious community that didn't prepare them for life in the "world."
is an very well written blog by a former psychic healer and New Age author. Lots of down to earth but scholarly information about “how spiritual beliefs are formed, how ideas are created and change over time, how social movements arise and decay, how groups create their own realities, and so on … you know, simple stuff like that.”
Cults & Spiritual Abuse of All Kinds
While anti-cult crusaders are sometimes overly alarmist and naive about religion in addition to often being closely allied with the religious establishment, they perform an invaluable service in pointing out potential dangers of authoritarian groups. The following sites have a wealth of information about various "cults," religious and secular, along with extensive resources for those who have been involved with such groups:
Nori J. Muster is a former member of the International Society for Krisna Consciousness who has written a well balanced . She also has an excellent online and site with the slogan: “Don’t join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!”
- taking a scholarly approach, ICSA has over time assumed a more open minded stance, recognizing that not every cultic group is destructive while continuing to provide information and support for former cult members and their families. ICSA now has a separate site.
has an extensive on-line archive of information about a great many controversial groups.
is a conservative Christian site primarily concerned with Bible based groups.
apparently hasn't been updated for quite a while but has useful information, including some material on groups, such as Ayn Rand's Objectivism, that aren't well known.
Sexual Abuse by Religious Leaders
Among the many stories I have heard of abuse in religious communities, the most appalling involve sexual abuse. I've repeatedly heard about pillars of the spiritual community, ministers, priests, evangelists, teachers, lay and youth leaders of many groups and denominations, exploiting those who looked to them for spiritual guidance. Psychoanalysis tells us that what is repressed will likely be acted out. As conservative religion so often supports the repression of sexuality, sexual acting out is not at all uncommon in conservative religious communities. Far too many leaders in religious communities take advantage of the trust placed in them to try to fulfill their own secret desires which are explained as "temptation by Satan" with perpetrators, having "repented" and been "forgiven," set free to abuse again . Following the pattern of repression, those who should be safeguarding members of the community look the other way, ignoring the victims of the sexual abuse perpetrated by its serial offenders.
Here are some of the many websites with information about sexual abuse within religious communities:
is focused on abuse of adults with information that is helpful for any abuse survivor.
has a lot of information although the Evangelical Christian tone may be off-putting for some.
is primarily focused on sexual abuse by Catholic priests but has some information about abuse in other churches and groups. No matter what the religious organization, patterns of abuse and the devastation that results are basically the same.
Original Material & Photograph ©2009 James C. Moyers
May be reproduced with source cited
Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, Alameda County, CA Photo © Jim Moyers
Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, Alameda County, CA Photo © Jim Moyers
INTERNET RESOURCES FOR FORMER MEMBERS OF
CULTIC & FUNDAMENTALIST GROUPS