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.
This chapter examines conversion narratives told by asylum seekers who have left Islam for Christianity. The text argues that asylum seeker converts need not only to be accepted by a new faith-community, their conversion must be validated by a broader social group, including immigration authorities. Leaving (one) religion and joining another becomes an on-going process. The act of leaving a religion (Islam) is questioned, because the gain (asylum) is something society is reluctant to give. In the analysis conversion is discussed as both migration and integration strategies, with leaving and joining religion interpreted as ways of adapting to new contexts.
From a queer-theoretical perspective this article investigates how religious norms are socially produced and maintained, and what consequences these norms have for people about to leave their religion. Previous studies have focused mainly on people who find ways to reconcile two often-conflicting positions. Other studies emphasise the eventual outcome of the conflict between sexuality and religiosity. The aim of this research is to generate a better understanding of former Muslims’ own knowledge and personal understanding of what it means to be or not to be a Muslim and discuss the process by which individuals resolve this conflict by leaving Islam.
From the point of view of the halakhah, there is no way for a Jew to leave Judaism, regardless of if s/he was born a Jew or converted. Although a person may formally and ritually convert to another religion, according to the halakhah s/he remains a Jew. That said, it is clear that there is great variety in how this can be interpreted. Some of those who have left Judaism and joined other religions no longer see themselves as Jews. Others maintain dual identities, for instance as Jewish Buddhists. Still others claim never to have left Judaism, but are not recognised as Jews by mainstream Judaism, like the Jesus-believing Messianic Jews.
This chapter details the process of organisational exit from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a highly institutionalized and rigidly structured organisation, the process of disentanglement from Mormonism is, arguably more complicated than leaving other, less encompassing faiths. This chapter examines the narratives of former members of the Church to reveal a complicated and non-linear exit process. Members described initiating exit, returning to faithfulness, and reinitiating exit several times in a prolonged process marked by intense self-doubt and attempts to mask the decision to exit from other members.
Early studies on leaving new religious movements (nrms) exhibited deficiencies found in research on religious conversion and apostasy, such as: a tendency to distinguish pre- and post-conversion identities; and the assumption that to leave was simple. Terms like “recruit” for “convert” and “affiliation” and “disaffiliation” for “conversion” and “apostasy” showed nrms were seen as social movements or “cults,” and not “real” religions. Leaving, apart from cases involving “brainwashing” and deprogrammers, was rarely of interest. From the 1980s research on joining and leaving nrms became more nuanced. Leavers (like joiners) are not identical; some retain faith but not membership, others abandon both.
By analysing data gleaned through interviews with twenty Canadian leavetakers from Orthodox Judaism, this chapter argues that disaffiliation is not always as binary and conspicuous as much scholarship presumes it to be. The data reveals how the language of leavetaking based in fixed denominational categories and insider-outsider statuses does not accurately portray these leavetakers’ lived experiences. The more oblique, circuitous, and difficult to categorise identifications within some largely overlooked reaches of observant Judaism make evident the vacillations that exist between the poles of membership and identity within and beyond established Jewish classifications.
Pentecostal Christianity is rife with social disruptions and discontinuations. This has previously been a concern of group level research, but individual level is also important, although often overlooked due the expansive nature of Pentecostalism. This chapter discusses a study of leaving Finnish Pentecostalism, and offers practical considerations. A closer examination of individual exit stories is offered from a theoretical perspective of discrepancy theories. With varied individual experiences, informants share a sense of imbalance between their personal life and Pentecostal tradition, resulting in alienation and disruption. Various factors (for example social support, group size) influenced on how leavers prevailed the experience.
Too often, ancient persons have been seen as uncritically religious. From such perspective, leaving religion in Antiquity is deemed to be a theme of no importance. In this chapter, the notion that more or less everyone in Antiquity were religious is challenged. We first try to understand how such a perspective has evolved. After a reflection of recent trends in the sociology of religions, the need of rethinking the above-mentioned perspective is argued for. As a case study, Euripides’s drama Heracles is discussed. We suggest that the study of this drama and of other important texts and artifacts might prosper from a new look in which leaving religion is a reasonable perspective among others hitherto established ones.