Geographical and demographic approaches to leaving religion seek to understand processes of religious conversion and change across space and the human lifecycle. Geographical approaches have considered how structural shifts – such as those associated with social modernisation, communism and secularisation – have brought about large-scale departures from religion. Recently, these approaches have become more granular, and have considered the ways in which space can be a mediator and outcome of religious activity. Demographic approaches have considered how the propensity to leave religion intersects with life events, human development and other forms of population profiling. As such, they attempt to predict when individuals are likely to leave religion, but do not necessarily explain why.
Leaving religion has not been considered as a topic of historical inquiry apart from conversion until recently. As in the study of conversion, the historiographical consideration of leaving religion faces a number of theoretical problems and challenges. Medieval historiography has often approached leaving religion in negative terms as an element of heresy, apostasy, and unorthodox deviance, while historiography of the early modern period, often as part of a critique of medieval religiosity, has approached the subject in positive terms as an example of the rise of reason through secularism and skepticism. This chapter traces the historical schools and methods over the last century that have approached leaving religion in both positive and negative terms, viewing it through the lens of culture, language, political history, and literary form.
This article explores apostasy from Buddhism and addresses circumstances that have caused monastics and lay people leaving Buddhism. The focus is mainly on Theravada, the oldest form of Buddhism, and shows that sanctions against apostasy are absent in the Buddhist canonical texts. In spite of that, sanctions against people who leave Buddhism has developed in the Buddhist traditions. The article deals with monastics who have left or been expelled from the Buddhist congregation (sangha) because of not conforming to the tradition; consequences of female ordination (bhikkhuni ordination) and effects of conversion to Christianity after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
This chapter will examine the history and theological debates of leaving Christianity and Christian faith. Throughout the history of Christianity, debates on who is a Christian, heretic, and an apostate have shaped the identity of Christians, and the power of Churches and rulers. After the Reformation and the Enlightenment, the ideas of secularism and liberalism, combined with recent developments of individualism (and) linked with various events, such as ethical debates on sexuality and gender, have resulted in a decline in Christianity in Western World. However, Churches and theologians disagree on whether to consider a leaver to be an apostate irrevocably, or should salvation persevere.
This essay explores deconversion in the context of American Evangelicalism. It begins with an examination of evangelical practices of attaining religious certainty and then explores, ethnographically, occasions in which said certainty is disrupted by embodied practices, such as aesthetic experience. The essay makes the case that conversion and reconversion must be understood not merely as intellectual transformation, but as an exchange of one set of bodily practices for another.
To leave Hinduism is complicated by the close connection between Hindu religiosity and forms of Indian sociocultural identity. This makes the issue of conversion such a controversial subject, as leaving one’s religion can be considered as a form of ethno-apostasy. The question of leaving Hinduism consists of several layers in which religion: Hinduism; cultural identity: being Hindu; and nationhood: the republic of India, are interconnected. This highlights the question of what a cosmopolitan Hinduism would be after having ceased to be Hindu and having left India behind.
Dr. Bhimrao Amebdkar (1891–1956) was an activist intellectual, journalist, lawyer and a prominent figure in Indian politics. A Mahar, Ambedkar campaigned against the various sorts of discrimination suffered by so-called untouchables (Dalits). For Ambedkar, Hinduism provided a major structural and ideological framework for the Dalits` social and societal exclusion and their denial of fundamental rights. In 1935 Ambedkar announced: “I will not die a Hindu”. This chapter reviews Ambedkar’s path towards publicly leaving Hinduism, the preconditions and consequences of this step, his concept and theory of religion, and the logics of the process leading to his adoption and construction of a new religious identity (Buddhism).
In all Middle Eastern countries, it is legally impossible to leave Islam. Under Sharia law, apostasy is considered to be a punishable crime, and the death penalty can be applied in a handful of countries. Interestingly enough, the Koran does not seem to have a clear verdict on apostasy, whereas the sunna reports Muḥammad to have said “Whoever changes his religion, kill him”. All legal schools are demanding the death penalty to be applied for apostasy. Today, Muslim theologians are advocating three main positions: The progressive position, which favors complete religious freedom, a restrictive position, which basically rejects religious freedom for Muslims and seeks to penalize criticism of Islam. Finally, the majority centrist or moderate position advocating freedom of belief for Muslims but restricting it to internal thoughts.