Handbook of Leaving Religion


The Handbook of Leaving Religion introduces a neglected field of research with the aim to outline previous and contemporary research, and suggest how the topic of leaving religion should be studied in the future. The handbook consists of three sections: 1) Major debates about leaving religion; 2) Case studies and empirical insights; and 3) Theoretical and methodological approaches. Section one provides the reader with an introduction to key terms, historical developments, major controversies and significant cases. Section two includes case studies that illustrate various processes of leaving religion from different perspectives, and each chapter provides new empirical insights. Section three discusses, presents and encourages new approaches to the study of leaving religion.
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Daniel Enstedt, Ph.D. (2011), University of Gothenburg (Sweden), is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at that university. His research focus is mainly on contemporary religion and the sociology of religion, especially in the field of lived religion. He has studied apostasy and Islam in Sweden, religion and digital media, sexuality and Christianity, and new expressions of spirituality in Sweden. Göran Larsson, Ph.D. (2000), University of Gothenburg (Sweden), is Professor of Religious Studies/History of Religions at that university. He has published extensively on Islam and Muslims in Europe in both past and present. Besides the study of Islam and Muslims, Larsson has also published on religion and media, migration, global conflicts and theoretical and methodological issues. Teemu T. Mantsinen/, Ph.D. (2014), University of Turku (Finland), is Researcher of the Study of Religion at that university. His previous works include studies on Pentecostalism, social class, social transformations, migration, and Orthodox pilgrimage.

Contributors are: David Belfon, Clemens Cavallin, David McConnell, Ryan T. Cragun, Carole Cusack, Daniel Enstedt, Monica Lindberg Falk, Miguel Farias, Niklas Foxeus, Philip Francis, Amorette Hinderaker, Isabella Kasselstrand, Lily Kong, Göran Larsson, Erica Li Lundqvist, Jörgen Magnusson, Teemu T. Mantsinen, Kyle Messick, Masoumeh Rahmani, Lena Roos, Caleb Schaffner, Christine Schirrmacher, Michael Stausberg, Nora Stene, Peter G. Stromberg, Ryan Szpiech, Teemu Taira, Kati Tervo-Niemelä, Hugh Turpin, Orlando Woods.
"The volume’s scope is impressive, its structure is cogent and complementary, and its contributors offer approachable analyses of deconversion and disaffiliation. Readers new to the field will encounter accessible explanations of basic concepts and core debates, while those familiar with scholarship on apostasy will find a battery of case studies to examine and challenges to meet." - Kristian Klippenstein, in: Nova Religio 24:1, 2020.
"The anthology takes a broad approach, encompassing historical debates on topics of conversion, contemporary case studies from a range of traditions, including established institutions like Catholicism, new religious or spiritual practices like Vipassana meditation, asylum seekers leaving Islam for Christianity, and chapters approaching the topic from a range of subfields within religious studies. (...) The anthology offers a berth for studies that are topical and important. (...) I would still recommend this book to religious studies scholars looking for a work dealing with the complexities of religious identity in historical and contemporary contexts, who are also interested in a handbook for undergraduate students introducing the available methodological and theoretical approaches within religious studies." - Evelina Lundmark, Uppsala University, Sweden/University of Kent, UK, in: Temenos: Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion 56: 2, 2020.
"Now that the study of conversion has a well-established niche in religious scholarship, it is only natural that the reverse phenomenon, namely the study of ‘deconversion' (‘disaffiliation’, ‘losing religion’), should emerge. This volume indicates clearly that this developing field of inquiry can yield significant insights into the dynamics of the contemporary religious scene. (...) By drawing attention to the need to study the phenomenon of leaving religion, by providing an impressive range of intriguing case studies, by highlighting the problems encountered by scholars engaging in such studies, and by suggesting theoretical and methodological ways of addressing these problems, the entire volume provides nothing less than an initiation into a promising field of inquiry taking shape within the academic study of contemporary religion."
- Theodore Pulcini, Dickinson College, USA, in: Journal of Contemporary Religion, 35:3 (2020).
Notes on Contributors

1 Leaving Religion: Introducing the Field
Daniel Enstedt, Göran Larsson and Teemu T. Mantsinen

Part 1: Historical and Major Debates

2 Leaving Hinduism
Clemens Cavallin
3 Leaving Buddhism
Monica Lindberg Falk
4 Leaving Religion in Antiquity
Jörgen Magnusson
5 Leaving Judaism
Lena Roos
6 Leaving Christianity
Teemu T. Mantsinen and Kati Tervo-Niemelä

7 Leaving Islam
Christine Schirrmacher

Part 2: Case Studies

8 Leaving Hinduism: Deconversion as Liberation
Michael Stausberg
9 Leaving Theravāda Buddhism in Myanmar
Niklas Foxeus
10 Leaving Vipassana Meditation
Masoumeh Rahmani
11 Leaving Orthodox Judaism
David Belfon
12 Leaving the Amish
David L. McConnell
13 Leaving Evangelicalism
Philip Salim Francis
14 Leaving Pentecostalism
Teemu T. Mantsinen
15 Leaving Roman Catholicism
Hugh Turpin
16 Leaving Mormonism
Amorette Hinderaker
17 Leaving Islam for Christianity: Asylum Seeker Converts
Nora Stene
18 Leaving Islam from a Queer Perspective
Erica Li Lundqvist
19 Leaving New Religions
Carole M. Cusack
20 Non-Religion and Atheism
Caleb Schaffner and Ryan T. Cragun

Part 3: Theoretical and Methodological Approaches

21 Historical Approaches to Leaving Religion
Ryan Szpiech
22 Geographical and Demographic Approaches to Leaving Religion
Lily Kong and Orlando Woods
23 Statistical Approaches to Leaving Religion
Isabella Kasselstrand
24 Sociological Approaches to Leaving Religion
Daniel Enstedt
25 Psychological Approaches to Leaving Religion
Kyle Messick and Miguel Farias
26 Narrative and Autobiographical Approaches to Leaving Religion
Peter G. Stromberg
27 Media and Communication Approaches to Leaving Religion
Teemu Taira

All interested in conversion, deconversion and apostasy processes, and anyone concerned with methodological and theoretical questions related to leaving or changing religion.
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