The “After Religion” Corner
This page is for those who are questioning their religious beliefs and are thinking about leaving religion. The process of seriously questioning religion can be an arduous path, full of anger, guilt, doubt and, for some of us, social exclusion and isolation. Here is a safe corner to discuss personal religious experience, to help former believers understand and express their feelings.
When members of a given faith start questioning the foundations of the dogma they obey or the incoherence of their fellow believers, others respond very often with cliché answers and admonitions such as “doubt is the enemy of faith”. Thus, all sorts of guilt take over our intellectual attempt to make sense of our beliefs: guilt about being a bad follower, guilt about betraying our family/community, and most importantly, the feeling that the god we are questioning is judging us.
For those ready to chance the odds, to overcome guilt and to finally step forward as “official questioners”, shame becomes the new enemy. Shame of having spent so much time in “intellectual confusion”, shame of having missed out on great opportunities outside of the religious world. Also, especially for those who were victims of indoctrination or sectarianism, the shame of having been forced to obey narrow-minded religious dogmas and obtuse traditions. This shame can hinder the capacity to take up new challenges and thrive in new environments.
We can then see if the “Path from Guilt to Shame” resonates with all of us, or if we find that there’s another more common path that we share.
How to get in touch?
The idea of this page is to share about our religious experiences and questions, and get the right support from people who’ve been there and who are likeminded. For example, we’ve had group discussions and can schedule debates or discussions linked to a particular topic. But we also have more private, 1 to 1 discussions.
Write me an email to groups[at]intergifted.com. We can schedule a talk on Skype, or meet in person, to share our experience and insights.
Who am I?
My name is Aurélien, and I am currently a MA student of Philosophy and Economics. I grew up Catholic and I was very involved in my church. When I was 20, I enrolled in the Vatican Swiss Guard for more than two years, where I had ample opportunity to contemplate the essence of a religious life and face my many questions. I left the Guard with the following promise in my heart: “from now on, and as long as you wish, try to live without the idea of God, and see what will come up.” I’ve struggled with guilt and shame, but I’ve also felt much more positive and… somehow liberated! I want to explore this mixture of feelings with others who have had similar experiences.
Check out my interview to learn more about me and the group!
- Experience of leaving the religion by a Swiss Atheist, or how the way to acceptance can be long but fruitful: Réussir l’abandon de la foi – Se libérer de l’emprise de la religion [in French]
- Spirituality and the Highly Gifted Adolescent, an article by Stephanie Tolan.
- Waking Up, by Sam Harris. Harris gives an account of spirituality and meditation following the Eastern tradition that is easy to accept for a skeptical mind. He shows how spirituality is found outside and beyond religions, with a view of spirituality devoid of any metaphysical “mumbo-jumbo”.