Apostasy (IPA: /əˈpɒstəsi/) is the formal religious disaffiliation or abandonment or renunciation of one's religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy. In a technical sense, as used sometimes by sociologists without the pejorative connotations of the word, the term refers to renunciation "and" criticism of, or opposition to, one's former religion. One who commits apostasy is an apostate, or one who apostatizes. The word derives from Greek αποστασία (apostasia), meaning "a defection or revolt", from απο, "apo", "away, apart", στασις, "stasis", "standing".

Apostasy is generally not a self-definition: very few former believers call themselves apostates and they generally consider this term to be a pejorative. Many religious movements consider it a vice (sin), a corruption of the virtue of piety in the sense that when piety fails, apostasy is the result.

Many religious groups and even some states punish apostates. Apostates may be shunned by the members of their former religious group [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1470584,00.html "Muslim apostates cast out and at risk from faith and family"] , "The Times", February 05, 2005] or worse. This may be the official policy of the religious group or may happen spontaneously, due in some sense to psycho-social factors as well.Fact|date=August 2008 The Catholic Church may in certain circumstances respond to apostasy by excommunicating the apostate, while the traditional holy writings of both Judaism (Deuteronomy 13:6-10) and Islam (al-Bukhari, Diyat, bab 6) demand the death penalty for apostates.

The reliability of the testimonies of apostates is an important and controversial issue in the study of apostasy in cults and new religious movements.Nonspecific|date=August 2008

Unlike apostasy, heresy is the rejection or corruption of certain doctrines, not the complete abandonment of ones religion. Heretics claim to still be following a religion (or to be the "true followers"), whereas apostates reject it entirely.

The term is also used to refer to renunciation of belief in a cause other than religion to which one has voluntarily professed any form of allegiance, particularly in politics and fans of sports teams. Conversely, some atheists and agnostics use the term "deconversion" to describe loss of faith in a religion.Fact|date=August 2008

ociological definitions

The American sociologist Lewis A. Coser (following the German philosopher and sociologist Max SchelerFact|date=August 2008) holds an apostate to be not just a person who experienced a dramatic change in conviction but “"a man who, even in his new state of belief, is spiritually living not primarily in the content of that faith, in the pursuit of goals appropriate to it, but only in the struggle against the old faith and for the sake of its negation." [Lewis A. Coser "The Age of the Informer" Dissent:1249-54, 1954] Bromley, David G. (Ed.) "" CT, Praeger Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0-275-95508-7]

The American sociologist David G. Bromley defined the apostate role as follows and distinguished it from the defector and whistleblower roles.
*"Apostate role": defined as one that occurs in a highly polarized situation in which an organization member undertakes a total change of loyalties by allying with one or more elements of an oppositional coalition without the consent or control of the organization. The narrative is one which documents the quintessentially evil essence of the apostate's former organization chronicled through the apostate's personal experience of capture and ultimate escape/rescue.
*"Defector role": an organizational participant negotiates exit primarily with organizational authorities, who grant permission for role relinquishment, control the exit process, and facilitate role transmission. The jointly constructed narrative assigns primary moral responsibility for role performance problems to the departing member and interprets organizational permission as commitment to extraordinary moral standards and preservation of public trust.
*"Whistleblower role": defined here as one in which an organization member forms an alliance with an external regulatory unit through offering personal testimony concerning specific, contested organizational practices that is then used to sanction the organization. The narrative constructed jointly by the whistleblower and regulatory agency is one which depicts the whistleblower as motivated by personal conscience and the organization by defense of public interest.

Stuart A. Wright, an American sociologist and author, asserts that apostasy is a unique phenomenon and a distinct type of religious defection, in which the apostate is a defector "who is aligned with an oppositional coalition in an effort to broaden the dispute, and embraces public claimsmaking activities to attack his or her former group." [ Wright, Stuart, A., " Exploring Factors that Shape the Apostate Role", in Bromley, David G., "The Politics of Religious Apostasy", pp. 109, Praeger Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0-275-95508-7]

In international law

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, considers the recanting of a person's religion a human right legally protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: "The Committee observes that the freedom to 'have or to adopt' a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace ones current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views [...] Article 18.2 bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to their religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert." [CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4, General Comment No. 22., 1993]

In Christianity

The New Testament does not mention any punishment for apostasy, however there are references in the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament. Some of them are:

These laws are not binding to Christians though, due to early Church interpretations of Old Testament Law and Grace. [http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+5:5-8,Romans+8:1-4]

Catharism was a name given to a radical Christian religious sect with dualistic and gnostic elements that appeared in the Languedoc region of France in the 11th century and flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Catholic Church regarded the sect as dangerously heretical and in 1208 AD, the Pope unleashed a crusade known as the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars. In the ensuing 20-year military campaign, thousands of apostates were executed including 7000 residents of a town called Beziers, who were locked and burnt in a church. According to historians, a horrified onlooker rushed to the papal gates and reminded the crusaders that the some Christians were still trapped in the church together with the Cathars. The officer overseeing the massacre then made a remark that has resounded through the centuries: "“Kill them all. God will know his own”" [The Crusades : Five Centuries of Holy Wars, 1996, Malcolm Billings, Sterling Publishing New York]

In Islam

In Islam, apostasy is called "ridda" ("turning back") and is considered to be a profound insult to God. A person born of Muslim parents that rejects Islam is called a "murtad fitri" (natural apostate), and a person that converted to Islam and later rejects the religion is called a "murtad milli" (apostate from the community).Fact|date=August 2008

According to most scholars, if a Muslim consciously and without coercion declares their rejection of Islam and does not change their mind after the time given to him/her by a judge for research, then the penalty for male apostates is death, and for women, life imprisonment. However, this view has been rejected by a small minority of modern Muslim scholars (eg Hasan al-Turabi), who argues that the "hadith" in question should be taken to apply only to political betrayal of the Muslim community, rather than to apostasy in general. [ [http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2003/05/Article01a.shtml Islam & Pluralism: A Contemporary Approach] from IslamOnline.net] These scholars regard apostasy as a serious crime, but argue for the freedom to convert to and from Islam without legal penalty, and consider the aforementioned "Hadith" quote as insufficient justification for capital punishment. Today apostasy is punishable by death in the countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, Mauritania and the Comoros. In Qatar apostasy is a capital offense, but no executions have been reported for it. [ [http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2006&country=7042 freedomhouse.org: Country Report: Qatar] from freedomhouse.org]

The hadith, has been used both by supporters of the death penalty as well as critics of Islam. Some Islamic scholarsFact|date=June 2008 point out it is important to understand the hadith in proper historical context. The order was at a time when the nascent Muslim community in Medina was fighting for its very life, and there were many schemes, by which the enemies of Islam would try to entice rebellion and discord within the community. [ [http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_251_300/is_killing_an_apostate_in_the_is.htm Is Killing An Apostate in the Islamic Law? ] from irfi.org] Clearly any defection would have serious consequences for the Muslims, and the hadith may well be about treason, rather than just apostasy. It must also be pointed out that under the terms of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, any Muslim who returned to Mecca was not to be returned, terms which the Prophet accepted. Despite this historical point, Islamic law as currently practiced does not allow the freedom for the individual to choose ones religion.

The Qur'an says:

The Hadith (a collection of sayings attributed to Muhammad and his companions) includes statements taken as supporting the death penalty for apostasy, such as:

*Kill whoever changes his religion. bukhari|9|84|57

*The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims. bukhari|9|83|17

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a Pakistani Islamic scholar, writes that punishment for apostasy was part of Divine punishment for only those who denied the truth even after clarification in its ultimate form by Muhammad (he uses term Itmam al-hujjah), hence, he considers this command for a particular time and no longer punishable. [Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, [http://www.renaissance.com.pk/novsps966.html The Punishment for Apostasy] , Renaissance - Monthly Islamic Journal, Al-Mawrid, 6(11), November, 1996]

In 2006, Abdul Rahman, the Afghan convert from Islam to Christianity has attracted worldwide attention about where Islam stood on religious freedom. Prosecutors asked for the death penalty for him. However, under heavy pressure from foreign governments, the Afghan government claimed he was mentally unfit to stand trial and released him.

Islam Online, a website,Fact|date=January 2008 contains a fatwa dated 21 March 2004 and ascribed to 'IOL Shariah Researchers' says:

* "If a sane person who has reached puberty voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be punished.‏ In such a case, it is obligatory for the caliph (or his representative) to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does, it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed." [ [http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1119503544134 Islam Online] ] No one besides the caliph or his representative may kill the apostate. If someone else kills him, the killer is disciplined (for arrogating the caliph's prerogative and encroaching upon his rights, as this is one of his duties).

In Judaism

The term apostasy is also derived from Greek ἀποστάτης, meaning "political rebel," as applied to rebellion against God, its law and the faith of Israel (in Hebrew מרד) in the Hebrew Bible.

Other expressions for apostate as used by rabbinical scholars are "mumar" (מומר, literally "the one that is changed") and "poshea yisrael" (פושע ישראל, literally, "transgressor of Israel"), or simply "kofer" (כופר, literally "denier" and heretic).

The Torah states:

Deuteronomy 13:6-10::"If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which [is] as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods", which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; [Namely] , of the gods of the people which [are] round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the [one] end of the earth even unto the [other] end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; "neither shall thine eye pity him", neither shalt thou spare, "neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him"; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage." [Deuteronomy [http://www.apostolic-churches.net/bible/search/list/?search_book=Deuteronomy&search_chapter_verse=13&varchapter_verse=13:6 13:6-10] ]

The prophetic writings of Isaiah and Jeremiah provide many examples of defections of faith found among the Israelites (e.g., Isaiah 1:2-4 or Jeremiah 2:19), as do the writings of the prophet Ezekiel (e.g., Ezekiel 16 or 18). Israelite kings were often guilty of apostasy, examples including Ahab (I Kings 16:30-33), Ahaziah (I Kings 22:51-53), Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:6,10), Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:1-4), or Amon (2 Chronicles 33:21-23) among others. (Amon's father Manasseh was also apostate for many years of his long reign, although towards the end of his life he renounced his apostasy. Cf. 2 Chronicles 33:1-19)

Paul of Tarsus was accused of apostasy by the council of James and the elders, for teaching apostasy from the law given by Moses (Acts 21:17-26). Scholars consider this the reason by which some early Christians, such as the Ebionites, repudiated Paul for being an apostate.

In the Talmud, Elisha Ben Abuyah (known as Aḥer) is singled out as an apostate and epicurean by the Pharisees.

During the Spanish inquisition, a systematic conversion of Jews to Christianity took place, some of which under threats and force. These cases of apostasy provoked the indignation of the Jewish communities in Spain.

Several notorious Inquisitors, such as Tomás de Torquemada, and Don Francisco the archbishop of Coria, were descendants of apostate Jews. Other apostates who made their mark in history by attempting the conversion of other Jews in the 1300s include Juan de Valladolid and Astruc Remoch.

However, the issue of what qualifies as "apostasy" in Judaism can be complicated, since in many modern movements in Judaism, rabbis have generally considered the behavior of a Jew to be the determining factor in whether or not one is considered an adherent or an apostate of Judaism.

Abraham Isaac Kook, [ [http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/rk16-kook.htm template.htm Introduction to the Thought of Rav Kookby, Lecture #16: "Kefira" in our Day] from vbm-torah.org (the Virtual Beit Midrash)] [ [http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/rk17-kook.htm template.htm Introduction to the Thought of Rav Kookby, Lecture #17: Heresy V] from vbm-torah.org (the Virtual Beit Midrash)] first Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community in then Palestine, held that atheists were not actually denying God: rather, they were denying one of man's many images of God. Since any man-made image of God can be considered an idol, Kook held that, in practice, one could consider atheists as helping true religion burn away false images of god, thus in the end serving the purpose of true monotheism.

In Hinduism and Buddhism

Contrary to Abrahamic dogmas, there is no concept of an apostate in Hinduism or Buddhism, as everyone is accepted as one and the same. Converts to other religions from Hinduism or Buddhism are accepted in these communities, as there is no Hindu or Buddhist procedure that defines apostasy.

However, recent legal changes in India (a predominantly Hindu country) limiting the ability of citizens in certain Indian States to convert religion from Hinduism based solely on personal belief also suggest that apostasy does enjoy widespread social disfavour. India's "dalits" in particular have often been found to convert from Hinduism to Buddhism or Christianity, and have faced social and at times legal repercussions.

In new religious movements and alleged cults

Some scholars of new religious movements (NRMs) define apostates specifically as individuals who leave new religious movements and publicly oppose them, to distinguish them from others who do not speak against their former faiths. Other scholars dispute this distinction.

Some scholars use the term post-cult trauma to describe the emotional and social problems that some members of cults and new religious movements experience after leaving the group, while other scholars assert that such traumas are either only applicable in rare cases or are more likely caused by deprogramming or pre-existing psychological problems, not by voluntary leavetaking.

Some notable apostates are part of the secular opposition to cults and new religious movements or the Christian countercult movement.Fact|date=January 2008 Some apostates of new religious movements make public stands against their former religion to warn the public of what they see as its dangers and harm.Fact|date=January 2008 Several of those apostates maintain websites on their former groups with unflattering perspectives, testimonials and information which, they say, is not disclosed by those groups to the public. Critics like Basava Premanand complain about "ad hominem" attacks on them by their former organizations or by apologists of their former faith, and claim that their goal is to provide information that enables current and prospective members to make an informed choice about joining or staying with a religious movement. Some of the groups being criticized, such as Adidam [ [http://www.firmstand.org/articles/tolerance.html Religious Tolerance: We Still Have a Long Way to Go: Articles and Essays ] ] in turn, claim being the target of religious intolerance, hate and ill-will by these critics.

James T. Richardson proposes a theory related to a logical relationship between apostates and whistleblowers, using Bromley's definitions, [citebook
author=Bromley, David G. (ed.)
coauthor= Richardson, James T.
title= in The politics of religious apostasy: the role of apostates in the transformation of religious movements |isbn=0-275-95508-7
chapter = Apostates, Whistleblowers, Law, and Social Control
publisher=Praeger|location=New York|year=1998
pages=p. 171
quote =Some of those who leave, whatever the method, become “apostates” and even develop into “whistleblowers”, as those terms are defined in the first chapter of this volume.
in which the former predates the latter. A person becomes an apostate and then seeks the role of whistleblower, which is then rewarded for playing that role by groups that are in conflict with the original group of membership such as anti-cult organizations. These organizations further cultivate the apostate, seeking to turn him or her into a whistleblower. He also describes how in this context, apostates' accusations of "brainwashing" are designed to attract perceptions of threats against the well being of young adults on the part of their families to further establish their new found role as whistleblowers.cite book
author=Bromley, David G. (ed.)
coauthor= Richardson, James T.
title= in The politics of religious apostasy: the role of apostates in the transformation of religious movements
chapter = Apostates, Whistleblowers, Law, and Social Control
location=New York
] Armand L. Mauss, define true apostates as those exiters that have access to oppositional organizations which sponsor their careers as such, and which validate the retrospective accounts of their past and their outrageous experiences in new religions, making a distinction between these and whistleblowers or defectors in this context.cite book
author=Bromley, David G. (ed.)
coauthor= Richardson, James T.
title= in The politics of religious apostasy: the role of apostates in the transformation of religious movements
chapter = Apostasy and the Management of Spoiled Identity
location=New York

Apostates' testimony and their motivations

The validity of testimony by former members of new religious movements, their motivations, and the roles they play in the opposition to cults and new religious movements are controversial subjects among scholars of religion, sociologists and psychologists:

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, a professor of psychology at the University of Haifa, argues that academic supporters of New religious movements are engaged in a rhetoric of advocacy, apologetics, and propaganda, and writes that in the cases of cult catastrophes such as Peoples Temple, or Heaven's Gate, accounts by hostile outsiders and detractors have been closer to reality than other accounts, and that in that context statements by ex-members turned out to be more accurate than those of offered by apologists and NRM researchers. [Beit-Hallahmi 1997 Beith-Hallahmi, Benjamin [http://www.apologeticsindex.org/c59.htm "Dear Colleagues: Integrity and Suspicion in NRM Research"] , 1997.]

Bromley and Shupe, while discussing the role of anecdotal atrocity stories by apostates, propose that these are likely to paint a caricature of the group, shaped by the apostate's current role rather than his experience in the group, and question their motives and rationale. Lewis Carter and David G. Bromley claim that the onus of pathology experienced by former members of new religions movements should be shifted from these groups to the coercive activities of the anti-cult movement. [Bromley David G. et al., "The Role of Anecdotal Atrocities in the Social Construction of Evil,"] [in Bromley, David G et al. (ed.), "Brainwashing Deprogramming Controversy: Sociological, Psychological, Legal, and Historical Perspectives (Studies in religion and society)" p. 156, 1984, ISBN 0-88946-868-0]

Dr. Phillip Charles Lucas [ [http://www.culticstudiesreview.org/csr_profiles/indiv/lucas_phillip.htm < Lucas, Phillip Charles Ph.D. - Profile ] ] interviewed ex-members of the Holy order of MANScite web |url=http://www.holyorderofmans.org |title= Holy Order of MANS |accessdate = 2008-01-04 |format= |work=] and compared them with stayers and outside observers, and came to the conclusion that their testimonies are as (un-)reliable as those of the stayers. [Lucas 1995 Lucas, Phillip Charles, "From Holy Order of MANS to Christ the Savior Brotherhood: The Radical Transformation of an Esoteric Christian Order" in Timothy Miller (ed.), "America's Alternative Religions" State University of New York Press, 1995]

Jean Duhaime, a professor of religious studies and science of religion at the Université de Montréal writes, based upon his analysis of three memoirs by apostates of NRMs (by Dubreuil, Huguenin, Lavallée, see bibliography), that he is more balanced than some researchers, referring to Wilson, and that apostate testimonies cannot be dismissed, only because they are not objective, though he admits that they write atrocity stories in the definition by Bromley and Shupe. He asserts that the reasons why they tell their stories are, among others, to warn others to be careful in religious matters and to put order in their own lives.Duhaime, Jean (Université de Montréal) "Les Témoignages de convertis et d'ex-adeptes" (English: "The testimonies of converts and former followers", in Mikael Rothstein et al. (ed.), "New Religions in a Postmodern World", 2003, ISBN 87-7288-748-6]

Mark Dunlop, a former member of FWBO, argues that ex-members of cultic groups face great obstacles in exposing abuses committed by these groups, stating that ex-members "have great difficulty in disproving ad hominem arguments, such as that they have a personal axe to grind, that they are trying to find a scapegoat to excuse their own failure or deficiency [...] Cults have a vested interest in challenging the personal credibility of their critics, and may cultivate academic researchers who attack the credibility and motives of ex-members." Dunlop further expands on the specific difficulties faced by ex-members in proving harms done to them: "If an ex-member claims that they were subjected to brainwashing or mind-control techniques, not only is this again unprovable, but in the mind of the general public, it is tantamount to admitting that they are a gullible and easily led person whose opinions, consequently, can't be worth much. If an ex-member suffers from any mental disorientation or evident psychiatric symptoms, this is likely to further diminish their credibility as a reliable informant." He concludes with "In general, the public credibility of critical ex-cultists seems to be somewhere in between that of Estate Agents and flying saucer abductees." In the article's summary [http://www.ex-cult.org/fwbo/CofC.htm#advantages] , Dunlop argues that given that the apostates' testimony is ineffective due to lack of public credibility, and that other forms of criticism are also ineffectual for various reasons, cults are virtually immune from outside criticism making it very difficult to expose cults. [Dunlop 2001 [http://www.fwbo-files.com/CofC.htm The Culture of Cults] ]

Daniel Carson Johnson, in his "Apostates Who Never Were: The Social Construction of Absque Facto Apostate Narratives", refers to the stories told by apostates, to be stories of captive involvement in the past with the targeted religious group, and stories of rescue and redemption in the present. He asserts that these narratives is what confirms the apostate role, and that the stories are not recitations of real-world experiences and happenings but are social constructed and shaped along the lines dictated by an established literary form called "apostate narrative". He advises social scientists studying the subject to consider the possibility that substantial portions, and perhaps entire accounts have nothing to do with real world happenings or experiences.cite book
author=Bromley, David G. (ed.)
coauthor= Richardson, James T.
title= in The politics of religious apostasy: the role of apostates in the transformation of religious movements
chapter = Apostates Who Never Were: The Social Construction of Absque Facto Apostate Narratives
location=New York

Dr. Lonnie D. Kliever (1932 - 2004), Professor of Religious Studies of the Southern Methodist University, in his paper "The Reliability of Apostate Testimony about New Religious Movements" that he wrote upon request for Scientology, claims that the overwhelming majority of people who disengage from non-conforming religions harbor no lasting ill-will toward their past religious associations and activities, but that there is a much smaller number of apostates who are deeply invested and engaged in discrediting, and performing actions designed to destroy the religious communities that once claimed their loyalties. He asserts that these dedicated opponents present a distorted view of the new religions and cannot be regarded as reliable informants by responsible journalists, scholars, or jurists. He claims that the lack of reliability of apostates is due to the traumatic nature of religious disaffiliation, that he compares to a divorce, but also due to the influence of the anti-cult movement, even on those apostates who were not deprogrammed or did not receive exit counseling. [Kliever 1995 Kliever. Lonnie D, Ph.D. [http://www.neuereligion.de/ENG/Kliever/start.htm "The Reliability of Apostate Testimony About New Religious Movements"] , 1995.]

Michael Langone argues that some will accept uncritically the positive reports of current members without calling such reports, for example, "benevolence tales" or "personal growth tales". He asserts that only the critical reports of ex-members are called "tales", which he considers to be a term that clearly implies falsehood or fiction. He states that it wasn't until 1996 that a researcher conducted a study (Zablocki, 1996) to assess the extent to which so called "atrocity tales" might be based on fact. [ [http://www.culticstudiesreview.org/csr_articles/langone_michael_full.htm "The Two "Camps" of Cultic Studies: Time for a Dialogue"] Langone, Michael, "Cults and Society", Vol. 1, No. 1, 2001 ]

Gordon Melton, while testifying as an expert witness in a lawsuit, said that when investigating groups one should not rely solely upon the unverified testimony of ex-members, and that hostile ex-members would invariably shade the truth and blow out of proportion minor incidents, turning them into major incidents. [http://www.hightruth.com/experts/melton.html] Melton also follows the argumentation of Lewis Carter and David Bromley (above) and claims that as a result of this study, the [psychological] treatment (coerced or voluntary) of former members largely ceased, and that a (perceived) lack of widespread need for psychological help by former members of new religions would in itself be the strongest evidence refuting early sweeping condemnations of new religions as causes of psychological trauma. ["Melton 1999"Melton, Gordon J., [http://www.cesnur.org/testi/melton.htm "Brainwashing and the Cults: The Rise and Fall of a Theory"] , 1999.]

Bryan R. Wilson, who was a professor of Sociology at Oxford University, writes that apostates of new religious movements are generally in need of self-justification, and seek to reconstruct their past and to excuse their former affiliations, while blaming those who were formerly their closest associates. Wilson utilizes the term atrocity story, [a story] that is in his view rehearsed by the apostate to explain how, by manipulation, coercion or deceit, he was recruited to a group that he now condemns.Wilson, Bryan R. (Ed.) "The Social Dimensions of Sectarianism", Rose of Sharon Press, 1981.] Wilson also challenges the reliability of the apostate's testimony by saying that "the apostate [is] always seen as one whose personal history predisposes him to bias with respect to his previous religious commitment and affiliations, [so] the suspicion must arise that he acts from a personal motivation, to vindicate himself and to regain his self-esteem, by showing himself to have been first a victim, but subsequently a redeemed crusader."Wilson, Bryan R. "Apostates and New Religious Movements", Oxford, England, 1994]

Stuart A. Wright explores the distinction between the apostate narrative and the role of the apostate, asserting that the former follows a predictable pattern in which the apostate utilizes a "captivity narrative" that emphasizes manipulation, entrapment and becoming a victim of "sinister cult practices". These narratives provide a rationale for a "hostage-rescue" motif in which cults are likened to POW camps, and deprogramming is seen as a heroic hostage rescue effort. He also makes a distinction between "leavetakers" and "apostates", asserting that despite the popular literature and lurid media accounts of stories of "rescued or recovering 'ex-cultists'", empirical studies of defectors from NRMs "generally indicate favorable, sympathetic or at the very least mixed responses toward their former group." [ Wright, Stuart, A., " Exploring Factors that Shape the Apostate Role", in Bromley, David G., "The Politics of Religious Apostasy", pp. 95-114, Praeger Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0-275-95508-7]

Benjamin Zablocki, when analyzing leaver responses, found the testimonies of former members as least as reliable as statements from the groups themselves. [Zablocki 1996 Zablocki, Benjamin, "Reliability and validity of apostate accounts in the study of religious communities". Paper presented at the Association for the Sociology of Religion in New York City, Saturday, August 17, 1996.]

Massimo Introvigne in his "Defectors, Ordinary Leavetakers and Apostates" [Introvigne 1997] defines three types of narratives constructed by apostates of new religious movements:

*Type I narratives characterize the exit process as defection, in which the organization and the former member negotiate an exiting process aimed at minimizing the damage for both parties.
*Type II narratives involve a minimal degree of negotiation between the exiting member, the organization they intend to leave, and the environment or society at large, implying that the ordinary apostate holds no strong feelings concerning his past experience in the group.
*Type III narratives are characterized by the ex-member dramatically reversing their loyalties and becoming a professional enemy of the organization they have left. These apostates often join an oppositional coalition fighting the organization, often claiming victimization.Introvigne argues that apostates professing "Type II" narratives prevail among exiting members of controversial groups or organizations, while apostates that profess "Type III" narratives are a vociferous minority.

Other uses of the term

In popular usage, religious terminology like "apostasy" is often appropriated for use within other public spheres characterized by strongly-held beliefs, like politics. Such usage typically carries a much less negative connotation than the religious usage does, and sometimes people will even describe themselves as apostates. Authors Kevin Phillips (a former Republican strategist turned harsh critic of the Bush administration) and Christopher Hitchens (a former left-wing commentator turned enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq War) are examples of people who are often described as political apostates.Fact|date=January 2008

The term "apostasy" is also used by several death and black metal bands to assert the fact that they are removed from, and against, religion.

Noted apostates

This is a list of some notable persons that have been reportedly labeled as an apostate in reliable published sources.


*Julian the Apostate ex-Christian and Roman emperor
*Maria Monk sometimes considered an apostate of the Catholic Church, though there is little evidence that she ever was a Catholic.
*Brian Moore, spoke strongly about the effect of the Church on life in Ireland.
*Charles Templeton ex-Christian, declared himself an agnostic.
*Grant Allen, despite his religious father, became an agnostic and a socialist.
*Dan Savage, an openly gay American sex advice columnist, author, media pundit, journalist and newspaper editor. Savage has stated that he is now "a wishy-washy agnostic", he has said that he still considers himself "culturally Catholic".citeweb|author=Walsh, Jeff|url=http://www.oasisjournals.com/Issues/9910/cover.html|title=Savage Dan|date=1999-10-01|publisher=Oasis magazine] citeweb|author=Anderson-Minshall, Diane|url=http://www.afterelton.com/archive/elton/print/2005/9/dansavage.html|title=Interview with Dan Savage|date=2005-09-13|publisher=AfterElton.com]
*Timothy McVeigh professed his belief in "a God", although he said he had "sort of lost touch with" Catholicism and "never really picked it [back] up". The Guardian reported that McVeigh wrote a letter claiming to be an agnostic.
*Zach Galifianakis, an American comedian, actor, and writer. He was raised Greek Orthodox, but now says he "isn't sure" on the subject of religion. [ [http://www.brianmpalmer.com/galifianakis.htm Zach Galifianakis' interview] from brianmpalmer.com (Brian M. Palmer)]
*Bart D. Ehrman, is an American New Testament scholar and textual critic of early Christianity. He became an Evangelical Christian as a teen but gradually began questioning his faith in the Bible as the inerrant, unchanging word of God. He now considers himself an agnostic.
*Adefunmi (born Walter King) was the first African-American to ever be initiated into the priesthood and initiation cult of any traditional African Religion/spiritual system). His initiation paved the way for other African-Americans to recover and begin to practice traditional African beliefs that had been lost as a result of the transplantation of Africans during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
*Ryan G. Anderson, an American convicted of attempting to engage in espionage for al-Qaeda.
*Dan Barker, a prominent American atheist activist who served as a Christian preacher and musician for 19 years.
*Ole Brunell, converted to Judaism his wife, and four daughters, renaming himself to Shlomo Brunell.
*Robert D. Crane, the former adviser to President of the United States Richard Nixon, and is former Deputy Director (for Planning) of the U.S. National Security Council, has worked full-time as a Muslim activist in America since the 1980s.
*David XI of Kartli, a convert to Islam, was a brother of the Kartlian king Simon I, who led a long-lasting liberation war against the Safavid Persian and Ottoman empires.
*De Veenboer, a 17th century Dutch corsair. A privateer during the Eighty Years' War, he later turned to piracy and became an officer under Simon the Dancer. He later converted to Islam, becoming known as Süleyman Reis (also spelled Sulayman, Soliman or Slemen Reis), and had a highly successful career as a Barbary corsair commanding the Algiers corsair fleet during his later years.


*Ayaan Hirsi Ali labelled an apostate by Theo van Gogh according to Ayaan Hirsi Ali [ [http://www.nos.nl/nieuws/achtergronden/theovangogh/openbriefhirsiali.html Open letter] by Ayaan Hirsi Ali published on the website of the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting dated 3 November 2004
English translation: "Theo's naivety was not that it could not happen here, but that it could not happen to him. He said, "I am the local fool; they won't harm me. But you should be careful. You are the apostate.""
Dutch original " _nl. Theo's naïviteit was niet dat het hier niet kon gebeuren, maar dat het hem niet kon gebeuren. Hij zei: "Ik ben de dorpsgek, die doen ze niets. Wees jij voorzichtig, jij bent de afvallige vrouw." "
* Salman Rushdie was accused of being an apostate of Islam by Ruhollah Khomeini due to the publication of his book The Satanic Verses
* Tasleema Nasreen, from Bangladesh, the author of "Lajja", has been declared apostate - "an apostate appointed by imperialist forces to vilify Islam" - by several fundamentalist clerics in Dhaka [ [http://www.thenation.com/doc/20021118/tax/3 Taslima's Pilgrimage] By Meredith Tax, from "The Nation"]


* Tiberius Julius Alexander, 1st century Roman governor and general
* Baruch de Spinoza, a 17th century Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin
* Rita Levi-Montalcini, an Italian neurologist who received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
* Lewis Black,a Grammy Award-winning American stand-up comedian, author, playwright and actor.
* Milton Friedman American Nobel Laureate economist and public intellectual.
* Brian Greene, a theoretical physicist and one of the best-known string theorists.
* Stephen Jay Gould, raised in a secular Jewish home, did not formally practice religion and preferred to be called an agnostic.
* David Horowitz, an American conservative writer and activist, he is the editor of the conservative website FrontPage Magazine, and also writes for NewsMax.
* Wilhelm Reich, promoted adolescent sexuality, the availability of contraceptives and abortion, and the importance for women of economic independence.
* Arthur Rubinstein, widely considered as one of the greatest piano virtuosi of the 20th century.
* Sherwin B. Nuland, considers himself agnostic, but continues to attend synagogue.
* Carl Sagan, pioneered astrobiology.

ee also

* Religious conversion
* Religious intolerance
* Apostasia of 1965



Further reading

* Bromley, David G. 1988. "Falling From the Faith: The Causes and Consequences of Religious Apostasy". Beverly Hills: Sage.
* Dunlop, Mark, "The culture of Cults", 2001 [http://www.fwbo-files.com/CofC.htm]
* Introvigne, Massimo "Defectors, Ordinary Leavetakers and Apostates: A Quantitative Study of Former Members of New Acropolis in France" - paper delivered at the 1997 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, San Francisco, November 23, 1997 [http://www.cesnur.org/testi/Acropolis.htm]
* The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906). The Kopelman Foundation. [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com]
* Lucas, Phillip Charles, "The Odyssey of a New Religion: The Holy Order of MANS from New Age to Orthodoxy" Indiana University press;
* Lucas, Phillip Charles, "Shifting Millennial Visions in New Religious Movements: The case of the Holy Order of MANS" in "The year 2000: Essays on the End" edited by Charles B. Strozier, New York University Press 1997;
* Lucas, Phillip Charles, "The Eleventh Commandment Fellowship: A New Religious Movement Confronts the Ecological Crisis", Journal of Contemporary Religion 10:3, 1995:229-41;
* Lucas, Phillip Charles, "Social factors in the Failure of New Religious Movements: A Case Study Using Stark's Success Model" SYZYGY: Journal of Alternative Religion and Culture 1:1, Winter 1992:39-53
* Wright, Stuart A. 1988. "Leaving New Religious Movements: Issues, Theory and Research," pp.143-165 in David G. Bromley (ed.), "Falling From the Faith". Beverly Hills: Sage.
* Wright, Stuart A. 1991. "Reconceptualizing Cult Coercion and Withdrawal: A Comparative Analysis of Divorce and Apostasy." "Social Forces 70 (1):125-145".
* Wright, Stuart A. and Helen R. Ebaugh. 1993. "Leaving New Religions," pp.117-138 in David G. Bromley and Jeffrey K. Hadden (eds.), "Handbook of Cults and Sects in America". Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
* Zablocki, Benjamin et al., "Research on NRMs in the Post-9/11 World", in Lucas, Phillip Charles et al. (ed.), "NRMs in the 21st Century: legal, political, and social challenges in global perspective", 2004, ISBN 0-415-96577-2

Testimonies, memoirs, and autobiographies

*Babinski, Edward (editor), "Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists". Prometheus Books, 2003. ISBN-10: 1591022177; ISBN-13: 978-1591022176
*Dubreuil, J. P. 1994 "L'Église de Scientology. Facile d'y entrer, difficile d'en sortir". Sherbrooke: private edition (ex-Church of Scientology)
*Huguenin, T. 1995 "Le 54e" Paris Fixot (ex-Ordre du Temple Solaire who would be the 54th victim)
* Kaufmann, "Inside Scientology/Dianetics: How I Joined Dianetics/Scientology and Became Superhuman", 1995 [http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/Web/People/dst/Library/Shelf/kaufman/isd/isd.htm]
*Lavallée, G. 1994 "L'alliance de la brebis. Rescapée de la secte de Moïse", Montréal: Club Québec Loisirs (ex-Roch Thériault)
* Pignotti, Monica, " My nine lives in Scientology", 1989, [http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Library/Shelf/pignotti/]
* Wakefield, Margery, "Testimony", 1996 [http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/Web/People/dst/Library/Shelf/wakefield/testimony.html]
* Lawrence Woodcraft, Astra Woodcraft, Zoe Woodcraft, "The Woodcraft Family", Video Interviews [http://www.xenutv.com/interviews/woodcrafts.htm]

Writings by others

*Carter, Lewis, F. Lewis, "Carriers of Tales: On Assessing Credibility of Apostate and Other Outsider Accounts of Religious Practices" published in the book "The Politics of Religious Apostasy: The Role of Apostates in the Transformation of Religious Movements" edited by David G. Bromley Westport, CT, Praeger Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0-275-95508-7
*Elwell, Walter A. (Ed.) "Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 1 A-I", Baker Book House, 1988, pages 130-131, "Apostasy". ISBN 0801034477
* Malinoski, Peter, "Thoughts on Conducting Research with Former Cult Members ", Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2001 [http://www.culticstudiesreview.com/csr_articles/malinoski_peter.htm]
*Palmer, Susan J. "Apostates and their Role in the Construction of Grievance Claims against the Northeast Kingdom/Messianic Communities" [http://www.12tribes.org/controversies/apostatesandtheirrole.html]
* Wilson, S.G., "Leaving the Fold: Apostates and Defectors in Antiquity". Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2004. ISBN-10: 0800636759; ISBN-13: 978-0800636753
* Wright, Stuart. "Post-Involvement Attitudes of Voluntary Defectors from Controversial New Religious Movements". ""Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 23 (1984):172-182".

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  • APOSTASY — APOSTASY, term applied by members of the deserted faith for the change of one faith, set of loyalties, and worship for another. The conception of apostasy could not arise in the atmosphere of polytheism practiced in antiquity before the advent of …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Apostasy — • The word itself in its etymological sense, signifies the desertion of a post, the giving up of a state of life; he who voluntarily embraces a definite state of life cannot leave it, therefore, without becoming an apostate Catholic Encyclopedia …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Apostasy — A*pos ta*sy, n.; pl. {Apostasies}. [OE. apostasie, F. apostasie, L. apostasia, fr. Gr. ? a standing off from, a defection, fr. ? to stand off, revolt; ? from + ? to stand. See {Off} and {Stand}.] An abandonment of what one has voluntarily… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • apostasy — index abandonment (desertion), bad faith, blasphemy, desertion, disloyalty, dissent (difference of opinion) …   Law dictionary

  • apostasy — (n.) late 14c., renunciation, abandonment or neglect of established religion, from L. apostasia, from later Gk. apostasia, from apostasis revolt, defection, lit. a standing off (see APOSTATE (Cf. apostate)). General (non religious) sense is… …   Etymology dictionary

  • apostasy — desertion, *defection …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • apostasy — ► NOUN ▪ abandonment of a belief or principle. ORIGIN Greek apostasis desertion …   English terms dictionary

  • apostasy — [ə päs′tə sē] n. pl. apostasies [ME apostasie < LL(Ec) apostasia < Gr apo , away + stasis, a standing: see STASIS] an abandoning of what one has believed in, as a faith, cause, or principles …   English World dictionary

  • Apostasy — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. L apostasie (du grec ancien ἀπόστασις (apostasis), se tenir loin de) est l attitude d une personne, appelée un apostat, qui renonce publiquement à une… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • apostasy — /euh pos teuh see/, n., pl. apostasies. a total desertion of or departure from one s religion, principles, party, cause, etc. [1350 1400; ME apostasye ( < AF) < LL apostasia < Gk: a standing away, withdrawing, equiv. to apóstas(is) (apo APO + sta …   Universalium

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