The Ex-Religious Resource Directory

Since I first deconverted, I’ve come across a TON of resources dedicated to helping people transition out of religions. I noticed recently that there’s no one place where all resources relevant to ex-religious people have been compiled… so I set out to make it.

The Ex-Religious Resource Directory aims to be a comprehensive online list of help for people exiting their given religious environments. It’s got websites, podcasts, books, organizations, social services, therapy providers, etc. It’s for anyone leaving any religious environment: Hasidic Jew, Mormon, Christian, cult, whatever. It’s for all of us.

Know any helpful resources I don’t have up? Drop ’em in my inbox! I’d love to see them.

Resources I’ve trust and/or have used are in blue, and the rest are in cranberry. Obviously, use personal discretion as you go.

This is a lot of info. If you are overwhelmed or confused, just contact me with what you’re looking for, and I’ll help you find resources! Take it slow and know that you aren’t alone. 🙂

My personal recs

Journey Free is an amazing organization dedicated to helping people transition out of harmful religions and make new lives. They offer free consultations and paid online support groups, individual coaching, & weekend retreats. They were founded by…

Dr. Marlene Winell, who coined the term Religious Trauma Syndrome, which is essentially PTSD experienced by people who lived in and leave authoritarian religions. It was so validating to read about how religions can be toxic – and name my struggle. You can download a free workbook to help you with leaving your religion (I love it.) 

Recovering from Religion is another awesome org for people questioning and leaving their religions. They have support groups, a hotline if you need a listening ear (call or online chat), and can help you find a therapist who understands being secular.

I strongly rec Openly Secular if you’re considering coming out as ex-religious!

If you grew up in an insulated/cultic community, skim Starting Out in Mainstream America, International Cultic Studies Association’s free online book on living in modern society from getting a car to budgeting to mainstream culture. We need resources for entering a secular community just as much as those for exiting religion.

I help run The Art of Leaving, a blog for kids and young people leaving their religions. I regularly read Godless In Dixie and Roll to Disbelieve on Patheos, they do a terrific job of unpacking religious indoctrination.

Reddit also provides a great community of people who can uniquely relate to your loss, triumphs, and struggles, especially if you’re closeted or questioning. It’s anonymous and has subreddits for multiple religions.

Organizations

Becoming Free offers professional support groups for survivors of spiritual harm/abuse, as well as workshops for still-religious loved ones
Families Against Cult Teachings 
raises awareness about cults in US and abroad
Footsteps
is a NY-based full service social service agency for those looking to leave Orthodox Jewish communities
Foundation Beyond Belief aims to unite humanists’ charitable giving/volunteering
Freedom from Religion Foundation brings lawsuits to keep church and state separate (check out the founders’ fascinating interview with Recovering from Religion!)

Freedom of Mind Resource Center
 
offers info/advice on cults and how to get yourself or your loved one out; also offers support groups
International Cultic Studies Association
, founded 1979, is a global network of former high demand group (cult) members, helping professionals, and researchers
Journey Free provides counseling for psychological healing
Life After God
is a safe space for people to explore doubts and reach their own conclusions
Open Minds Foundation
 offers useful info and help resources on “undue influence” in America (ie abuse, cults, obedience to authority figures, radicalization)
Openly Secular aims to end discrimination against secular people by making our stories and selves more visible
Meadow Haven
 and Wellspring are 2 US residential treatment centers for spiritual abuse/cult survivors
Recovering from Religion 
helps those questioning and leaving religion
Secular Safe House
 is a refuge for the LGBT, ex-religious and ex-cult, aiming to create a global network of secular humanists. Working on a temp housing network.
Secular Safe Zone trains facilitators of safe spaces for nontheists at institutions

 

Section 1: Explore, Question, Discover

Coming Out as Ex-Religious or Secular

10.5 Steps to Coming Out as a Non-Believer by Recovering From Religion
Coming Out Conversations by Secular Safe House
 interviews with those who’ve come out of religions, cults, or as LGBTQ. Also, with secular activists and leaders.
Iron Chariots counter-apologetics wiki
, debunks common religious arguments for God/against atheism
Mom, Dad, I’m Atheist:
a book on coming out to parents and others by David McAfee
Openly Secular’s brochure for your religious parent
Openly Secular’s Guide to Being Openly Secular
: AWESOME thorough advice on how to plan coming out + counter common myths about secular people
Openly Secular’s Toolkits for Secular People:
 
on being secular in school, during holidays, as a Black person, etc. In English/Spanish.
r/atheismcomingout get advice on coming out as atheist or ex-religious
TheraminTrees YouTube video on how loved ones may respond when you come out

Gender, Sexuality, LGBTQ+, and Your Faith

Coming Out Conversations by Secular Safe House interviews with those who’ve come out of religions, cults, or as LGBTQ. Also, with secular activists and leaders.
Removing the Fig Leaf
Patheos contribution blog about unpacking religions’ negative effects on our sexuality
Secular Sexuality (Darrel Ray) podcast on removing religion from gender & sexuality

Want to talk? The Trevor Project has a chat, text, and call line for LGBTQ young people, especially for help with suicidal ideation.

Disclaimer: PLEASE let me know if the following resources aren’t truly affirming. They were suggested by PFLAG. I have checked them out but may have missed something.

Affirmation provides online educational resources + support for LGBTQ Mormons and their loved ones/church leaders
Family Acceptance Project 
booklet shares how Mormon families can support LGBTQ kids
Gay Mormon Reconciliation
 provides affirmative Scriptures and a fellowship for LGBTQ Mormons and their loved ones
LDS Family Fellowship
is a support org for LGBTQ Mormons and their loved ones
LGBTQ Therapists Guild is a directory of Utah therapists who self-identify as affirming
Mama Dragons is a group of Mormon mothers who support their LGBTQ children
PFLAG’s list of interfaith LGBTQ resources

Questioning Your Faith

Life After God’s rec’d books, articles, and videos for exploring doubts
Life After God’s private Facebook group
for explorers
Iron Chariots’ Flawed Arguments For God section
, a helpful wiki debunking common religious arguments for God/against atheism
Iron Chariots’ Flawed Arguments Against Atheism section
The Spectrum of Disbelief (Recovering from Religion):
defines different spiritual beliefs (polytheism vs. agnostic atheism, etc)

Blogs

The Art of Leaving run by myself and a fantastic ex-cult survivor!
Spiritual Abuse Support run by a fellow survivor who I trust

Oy Vey Cartoons
cartoons by Shpitzle, a once-closeted ex-Hasidic woman
Resources for ex-Ultra Orthodox Jews
(Footsteps)
Shulem Deem
, ex-Orthodox Jew blogger and author

Homeschoolers Anonymous WordPress,
a platform for stories of former homeschoolers
No Longer Quivering
for ex-Quiverfulls and abused women
Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blog Network

Under Much Grace exploring the phenomenon of spiritual abuse in Evangelical churches, and a member of SAS Blog Network

Ex-Christian blog posts by ExChristian.net
Ex-Mormon bloggers by ExMormon.org
Recovery from Mormonism

Online Support: Forums and Facebook Groups

Dear Formerly Religious Self write yourself a letter!
Ex-Jehovah’s Witness Recovery Support page

Life After God’s private FB group
for people transitioning out of religions
Life After God’s Facebook
page interesting articles & events!
No Longer Quivering Support Group

r/thegreatproject
 
share your deconversion story, read others
r/atheismcomingout get advice on coming out as atheist or ex-religious
Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blog Network
Subreddits for people questioning/leaving
 
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, LDS, JW, Catholicism, or Protestantism

Films, Documentaries, and Videos

Journey Free’s featured videos: Marlene Winell talks about RTS and recovery
Openly Secular videos by allies and ex-religious people of different genders & races
Prplfox’s YouTube deconversion story:
one bad night I watched it all in one go, and I still think about it to this day. Maybe it’ll give you hope too!
TheraminTrees
(YouTube) clearly explains how religious ideas get into our heads – look kinda funky, but they’re actually helpful!
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
(Netflix) comedy show about a woman figuring out life after 10 years in an apocalyptic Christian bunker

Podcasts

The Afterlife for life after Hasidic Judaism
The Atheist Experience (Atheist Community of Austin)
,
a weekly live Internet TV show for atheists and believers (4:30-6 pm Central, Sundays)
Coming Out Conversations (Secular Safe House) 
interviews with those who’ve come out of religions, cults, or as LGBTQ. Also, with secular activists and leaders.
Godless Bitches (Atheist Community of Austin) to broadcast feminist/women’s voices in secular community
Leaving the Fold (BBC) with an ex-Hindu, ex-Muslim, and ex-Charismatic Evangelical
Life After God podcasts 
Non-Prophets Radio (Atheist Community of Austin) live Internet radio show (7:30 pm Central, first/third Weds of month)
Recovering from Religion podcasts suggest secular events/communities and resources
Secular Sexuality (Darrel Ray) removing religion from gender & sexuality

 

Section 2: Get Help, Recover, Find Community

Understanding and Escaping Spiritual Abuse and Cults

The Individual/Group Counseling, Coaching, and Therapy section lists mental health professionals and groups that specialize in SA/cult recovery.

How do I know if my loved one is in a cult? How do I help? (Dallas Cult Resource)
I think my loved one is in a cult!
(Freedom of Mind Resource Center)
Was I in a cult? (A list of great questions and info links about how to define a cult, compiled by Roseanne Henry, LPC)

Check out…

An open glossary of terms related to spiritual abuse by Spiritual Abuse Support
Biderman’s Chart of Coercion (methods cults use to draw people in an keep them)
BITE Model
 
to ID a cult by Freedom of Mind Resource Center
Evaluation Checklist for Cults
by Freedom of Mind Resource Center
How to spot Undue Influence
(apply this to spiritually abusive leaders or cults)
List of potential cults
 at Freedom of Mind Resource Center
Singer’s 6 Conditions for Thought Reform
(how do cults brainwash people?)
Starting Out in Mainstream America 
is a free online book: educate yourself on basic survival skills, from getting a car to budgeting to creating relationships
Traits, Effects, and Recovery from Spiritual Abuse
 
(FYI: authored by Watchman Fellowship, a Christian watchdog org against cults; claims knowing “the true God” is a required part of recovery)
What is a cult? by Carol Giambalvo
What is Spiritual Abuse?
by Cynthia Mullen Kunsman of UnderMuchGrace.com
UnderMuchGrace.com, exploring phenomenon of spiritual abuse in Evangelical churches

Recovering from Religion, Spiritual Abuse, or Cults

An open glossary of terms related to spiritual abuse by Spiritual Abuse Support
Check out
 Dr. Marlene Winell’s workbook on recovery from religious life
Common issues of those coming out of cults by Margaret Singer, PhD
Coping with triggers
, an easy-to-understand explanation of why you may feel anxious, unreal, or out of control
Spiritual Abuse Support’s amazing resource page!

What is Religious Trauma Syndrome? by Dr. Marlene Winell
What is Post-Cult Trauma Syndrome?
 
by Dallas Cult Resource (synonym for RTS)

Find Individual/Group Counseling or Therapy

What’s the difference between counselor/therapist/social worker/etc?!

Stephen Hassan, M.Ed, LMHC, NCC (Freedom of Mind Resource Center) counselor, Massachusetts, individual short-term help for survivors of cults/controlling families

Becoming Free coaching (help you build a new future)
Becoming Free professionally run support groups for survivors of harmful/abusive religion in Colorado
Becoming Free workshops to educate survivors’ still-religious loved ones
Footsteps
offers professional, short-term counseling and can refer you to longer term therapy or mental health services
Life After God coaching
 for individuals/groups transitioning away from religion
Journey Free offers free consultations, individual therapy, and online support groups
Dr. Marlene Winell’s workbook on recovery from religious life
Find secular therapists through Recovering from Religion Secular Therapy Project
Steps to Recovery article by Dr. Marlene Winell of Journey Free
Wellspring, US residential treatment center for spiritual abuse/cult survivors

Informal Peer Support Groups and a Hotline

See reFOCUS’ list of ex-cult support groups across the country.

Find
a local Recovering from Religion support group
Find a Secular Safe Zone
 (safe space for nontheists in a given institution)
Footsteps does art shows, ball games, socials, and annual events/parties for the formerly Ultra-Orthodox in NY
Footsteps peer support groups in NY for those transitioning out of Orthodox Jewish life
Journey Free’s online support group: to apply, sign up for a free 20-min chat appt; $10-40 monthly fee based on need
Off the Derekh meetups a friendly social/support group for former Orthodox Jews: NYC and Rockland-Bergen Counties
Recovering from Religion’s Hotline Project (call or chat): 1-84-I-DOUBT-IT I’ve called them before! They listen, offer resources, and don’t try to convert or deconvert you.
Twin Cities Former Fundamentalists meetup

Secular Groups and Communities

Atheist Community of Austin always has something going on, from weekly events to community service to podcasts
Find a United Coalition of Reason group
to socialize/volunteer with other nontheists
Give or volunteer with Foundation Beyond Belief
Galha LGBT Humanists
 (in the UK)

Financial, Legal, Career, Educational, Family Services

Footsteps in NY offers all services listed above, such as career coaching, GED prep, a fellowship, and court companions
Footsteps’ Divorce and Custody Handbook offers thorough info on the legal process for those looking to leave an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community
Freedom from Religion Foundation brings lawsuits to keep church and state separate (check out the founders’ fascinating interview with Recovering from Religion!) 
Ignite! Footsteps $5000 Community Impact Microgrants
for applicants seeking to help the formerly Ultra-Orthodox
Starting Out in Mainstream America is a free online book: educate yourself on basic survival skills, from getting a car to budgeting to creating relationships
Quit Mormon
free legal representation to help you resign from the Church

Books for People Leaving Any Religion

Recovering from Religion’s “Recommended Reading” List
Journey Free’s “Recommended Reading” List

Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions
(Cami Ostman, a collection of stories from women of many religions, inc. Moonies)
Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment
(Janet Heimlich)
Coming out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why
(Greta Christina)
Leaving the Fold: A guide for former fundamentalists and others leaving their religion 
(Marlene Winell)
Leaving Your Religion: A Practical Guide to Becoming Non-Religious
 (James Mulholland)
Mom, Dad, I’m Atheist: (David McAfee, on coming out – and not just to your parents)
Out of the Cults and Into the Church: Understanding and Encouraging Ex-Cultists (Janis Hutchinson – unsure what angle this author comes from, but may be helpful)
Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life without Religion (Karen L. Garst, a collection of stories from women of many religions)

Memoirs, Collections of Stories, and Guides on Leaving a Specific Religion

All Who Go Do Not Return: A Memoir (Shulem Deen, ex-Skverer – isolated Hasidic sect)
Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church
(Lauren Drain)
Becoming Unorthodox: Stories of ex-Hasidic Jews
(Lynn Davidman)
Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape
(Jenna Miscavige Hill)
Crossing Over: One Woman’s Escape from Amish Life 
(Ruth Irene Garrett)
Escape from Paradise: Leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower after thirty-five years of lost dreams (Brock Talon)
Exit Strategy: A Guide to Leaving Mormonism with your Dignity and Integrity Intact (Micah McAllister)
Exodus: A Memoir
(Deborah Feldman, sequel to Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots) 
I Fired God: My Life Inside – and Escape From – the Secret World of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Cult (Jocelyn Zichterman)
Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future
(Elizabeth Esther)
Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists
 (Edward T. Babinski)
Leaving the Saints: How I Lost Mormonism and Found My Faith (Martha Beck)
Leaving
Islam: Apostates Speak Out
(Ibn Warraq, a collection of stories)
Leaving Scientology: A Practical Guide to Escape and Recovery
(Jefferson Hawkins)
No Will of My Own: How Patriarchy Smothers Female Dignity & Personhood
(Jon H. Zens, Wade Burleson, Stephen Crosby)
Quivering Daughters
(Hillary McFarland, abusive effects of Quiverfull patriarchy on women)
Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement
(Kathryn Joyce)
Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control
(Luna Lindsey)
Sacred Road: my journey through abuse, leaving the Mormons and embracing spirituality 
(Todd Maxwell Preston)
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church (Rachel Held Evans)
Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home (Leah Lax)
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots
(Deborah Feldman)

Advertisements