I am writing to ask for your support for a new campaign being run by the Rationalist Association. Its called the Apostasy Project. We aim to provide information, support and help to those who are trying to leave their religion.
For many of us choosing what to believe is no big deal – no one is forcing dogma on us, we can follow our conscience in a free society. But many others are not so lucky. Losing the faith of their family or community can be painful and disorientating. Leaving their religion can mean not just leaving behind god, but family, friends and their community. They might even face retribution.
People like Vicky Simister, who grew up as a Jehovahs Witness in Ireland. For Vicky leaving the faith was like going through a break-up. For me it was both figurative realising the God I had committed my life to wasnt real and grieving that and literal, my family and friends shunned me and I had to cope with that rejection and rebuild my life.
Faced with this painful dilemma its not clear where to turn. Jonny Scaramanga was brought up a devout Christian and attended a specialist evangelical school, but his conscience insisted he renounce his faith, at great personal cost: For me the fundamentalist experience was desperately lonely, but the secular one was even worse, because it involved leaving behind the few friends I did have. I would have been grateful for a place that combined a chance to make friends with a place to discuss important questions.
Vicky and Jonny have both now rebuilt their lives, and are part of the Apostasy Project team who want to help others in the same predicament. People like this ex-Muslim, who spoke to us on the condition we did not reveal her identity: I consider myself an atheist, but I have not told my family. I am in the closet. I’m ready to come out, but I need support
The Apostasy Project aims to help people like her, in Britain and around the world (we have already been contacted by a Mormon in Utah, an atheist in Nigeria and even an interfaith Minister who wants to help fight religious coercion). We desperately want to help, but well need your financial support to do it. We want to compile useful resources (including video), create an online space with a sense of community and staff an online helpline to answer questions and share experiences with those in need.
Our target is £20,000. If everyone receiving this message gave just £5 we could start helping people next week.
Please visit this page where you can find a short film featuring some of our team including Jonny and our anonymous ex-Muslim friend. I hope you will be moved by what you hear and consider making a donation, which you can do directly from that page or by text message.
We want to help more people enjoy the benefits of free thought. People like former Catholic Rory Fenton (another member of our team):
I know how difficult it can be to accept a loss of faith but I also know what it’s like on the other side, to be out and fully yourself. I wish I could have had access to something like this as a teenager and my hope for others is that they might be spared some of the struggle I went through.
Thanks for your support