Apostasy

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Apostasy (from Greek αποστασία, meaning a defection or revolt , from απο, apo, "away, apart", στασις, stasis, "standing") is a term generally employed to describe the formal renunciation of one's religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy. In a technical sense, as used sometimes by sociologists without the sometimes pejorative connotations of the word, the term refers to renunciation and criticism of, or opposition to one's former religion. One who commits apostasy is an apostate, or one who apostatises. In older Western literature, the term typically referred to baptized Christians who left their faith. Apostasy is generally not a self-definition: very few former believers call themselves apostates and they generally consider this term to be a pejorative. One of the possible reasons for this renunciation is loss of faith, another is the alleged failure of religious indoctrination and/or brainwashing.

Many religious movements consider it a vice (sin), a corruption of the virtue of piety in the sense that when piety fails, apostasy is the result. However, most converts to a new religion can also be considered apostates from a previous belief.

Several religious groups and even some states punish apostates. Apostates may be shunned by the members of their former religious group<ref>http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1470584,00.html</ref> or worse. This may be the official policy of the religious group or may happen spontaneously, due in some sense to psycho-social factors as well. Catholicism may respond to apostasy by excommunicating the apostate while Islam demands the death penalty, such as in Saudi Arabia.

Conversely, some atheists and agnostics use the term "deconversion" to describe loss of faith in a religion. Self-described "Freethinkers" and those who may view traditional religion negatively may see it as gaining rationality and respect for the scientific method.

The reliability of the testimonies of apostates is an important and controversial issue in the study of apostasy in cults and new religious movements.

The difference between apostasy and heresy is that the latter refers to rejection or corruption of certain doctrines, not to the complete abandonment of one's religion. Heretics claim to still be following a religion (or to be the "true followers"), whereas apostates reject it.

The term is also used to refer to renunciation of belief in a cause other than religion, particularly in politics.

Other terms to describe leaving a faith and the associated process are treated in religious disaffiliation.

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[edit] Sociological definitions

The American sociologist Lewis A. Coser (following the German philosopher and sociologist Max Scheler) holds an apostate to be not just a person who experienced a dramatic change in conviction but “a man who, even in his new state of belief, is spiritually living not primarily in the content of that faith, in the pursuit of goals appropriate to it, but only in the struggle against the old faith and for the sake of its negation."<ref>Lewis A. Coser The Age of the Informer Dissent:1249-54, 1954</ref><ref name="bromley1998">Bromley, David G. (Ed.) The Politics of Religious Apostasy: The Role of Apostates in the Transformation of Religious Movements CT, Praeger Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0-275-95508-7</ref> However, a contrarian argument holds that religious converts who never freely chose adherence to their former faith (e.g. if inducted as a child) possibly never developed strong convictions towards it, and may genuinely only be motivated by aspects of their new faith. [citation needed]

The American sociologist David G. Bromley defined the apostate role as follows and distinguished it from the defector and whistleblower roles.<ref name="bromley1998"/>

  • Apostate role: defined as one that occurs in a highly polarized situation in which an organization member undertakes a total change of loyalties by allying with one or more elements of an oppositional coalition without the consent or control of the organization. The narrative is one which documents the quintessentially evil essence of the apostate's former organization chronicled through the apostate's personal experience of capture and ultimate escape/rescue.
  • Defector role: an organizational participant negotiates exit primarily with organizational authorities, who grant permission for role relinquishment, control the exit process, and facilitate role transmission. The jointly constructed narrative assigns primary moral responsibility for role performance problems to the departing member and interprets organizational permission as commitment to extraordinary moral standards and preservation of public trust.
  • Whistleblower role: defined here as one in which an organization member forms an alliance with an external regulatory unit through offering personal testimony concerning specific, contested organizational practices that is then used to sanction the organization. The narrative constructed jointly by the whistleblower and regulatory agency is one which depicts the whistleblower as motivated by personal conscience and the organization by defense of public interest.

[edit] In international law

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, considers the recanting of a person's religion a human right legally protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: "The Committee observes that the freedom to 'have or to adopt' a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views [...] Article 18.2 bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to their religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert."<ref>CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4, General Comment No. 22., 1993</ref>

See also: religious conversion

[edit] In Christianity

Image:Julian.jpg
Flavius Claudius Iulianus, Roman Emperor (361-363), was raised as Christian, but rejected this faith upon gaining the purple. His Christian enemies called him apostate, and therefore he is still widely known in English as Julian the Apostate.

Christians often quote the prophecy in 2 Thessalonians about a coming apostasy:

"Let no one in any way deceive you, for that day cannot come without the coming of the apostasy first, and the appearing of the man of sin, the son of perdition."<ref>2 Thessalonians 2:3 NASB/WEY</ref>

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe that this foretold apostasy, "The Great Apostasy," began with the death of the early apostles and continued into the early nineteenth century. Due to the fact that no one church can trace their origins all the way back to the original apostles, thus mormons beleive the church needed to be restored.

The Bible speaks of apostasies, but only of partial apostasies (see I Tim. 4:1, II Tim. 3:1-5). A partial apostasy (some turning from truth) would not mean the church ceased to exist; it would only mean its size diminished. There isn't a single verse in the Bible that speaks (in context) of a total apostasy of the Church at any stage of its existence. All of the proof texts suggested by Mormons deal with either apostasy of Israel (Amos 8:11, Isa. 29) a partial apostasy during the church age, or apostasy during the tribulation period (future). The latter is the case with II Thess. 2:3, where the context speaks of the revealing and destruction of the man of sin (2:8).

The apostasy can alternatively be interpreted as the pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church. This is because apostasy means departure (translated so in the first seven English translations).<ref>Dr. Thomas Ice, Pre-Trib Perspective, March 2004, Vol.8, No.11.</ref>

Signs of apostasy vary widely among many Christian denominations, the most common include:

  1. Denial of the Trinity and the deity of Christ;
  2. Denial of the deity of the Holy Spirit;
  3. Denial of moral absolutes, as found in the Bible, see also Antinomianism;

Some denominations quote Jude and Titus 3:10 saying that an apostate or heretic needs to be "rejected after the first and second admonition." In Roman Catholicism, apostasy is among the offences which bring automatic excommunication.

In the first centuries of the Christian era, apostasy was most commonly induced by persecution, and was indicated by some outward act, such as offering incense to a heathen deity or blaspheming the name of Christ. (The readmission of such apostates to the church was a matter that occasioned serious controversy.) The emperor Julian's "Apostasy" is discussed under Julian the Apostate. In the Roman Catholic Church the word is also applied to the renunciation of monastic vows (apostasis a monachatu), and to the abandonment of the clerical profession for the life of the world (apostasis a clericatu). Such defection was formerly often punished severely.

See also Great Apostasy; for an Arminian doctrine of individual apostasy, see Conditional Preservation of the Saints.

[edit] In Islam

Main articles: Apostasy in Islam and Takfir

Islam as it has been practiced for hundreds of years does enforce harsh penalties for apostasy. However the Quran itself is silent on the punishment for apostasy, though not the subject itself. The Quran speaks repeatedly of people going back to unbelief after believing, but does not confirm that they should be killed or punished.

In Islam, apostasy is called "ridda" ("turning back") and it is considered by Muslims to be a profound insult to God. A person born of Muslim parents that rejects Islam is called a "murtad fitri" (natural apostate), and a person that converted to Islam and later rejects the religion is called a "murtad milli" (apostate from the community).

The question of the penalties imposed in Islam (i.e. in the Qur'an or under shariah law) for apostasy is a highly controversial topic that is passionately debated by various scholars. On this basis, according to most scholars, if a Muslim consciously and without coercion declares their rejection of Islam and does not change their mind after the time given to him/her by a judge for research, then the penalty for male apostates is the death penalty, or, for women, life imprisonment. However, this view has been rejected by an extremely small minority of modern Muslim scholars (eg Hasan al-Turabi), who argues that the hadith in question should be taken to apply only to political betrayal of the Muslim community, rather than to apostasy in general.<ref>http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2003/05/Article01a.shtml</ref> These scholars argue for the freedom to convert to and from Islam without legal penalty, and consider the aforementioned Hadith quote as insufficient confirmation of harsh punishment; they regard apostasy as a serious crime, but undeserving of the death penalty. Today apostasy is punishable by death in the countries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan and Mauritania. Similarly, blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan.

The hadith "Whosoever changes his religion, Kill Him", has been used both by supporters of the death penalty as well as critics of Islam. Islamic apologists point out it is important to understand the hadith in proper historical context. The order was at a time when the nascient Muslim community in Medina was fighting for its very life, and there were many schemes, by which the enemies of Islam would try to entice rebellion and discord within the community.<ref>http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_251_300/is_killing_an_apostate_in_the_is.htm</ref> Clearly any defection would have serious consequences for the Muslims, and the hadith may well be about treason, rather than just apostasy. It must also be pointed out that under the terms of the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, any Muslim who returned to Mecca was not to be returned, terms which the Prophet accepted. Despite this historical point Islamic law as currently practiced does not allow the freedom for the individual to choose one's religion.

The Qur'an says:

  • "Let there be no compulsion in the religion: Clearly the Right Path (i.e. Islam) is distinct from the crooked path". (2:256)
  • A section of the 'People of the Book' (Jews and Christians) says: "Believe in the morning what is revealed to the believers (Muslims), but reject it at the end of the day; perchance they may (themselves) turn back (from Islam)." (3:72)
  • "But those who reject faith after they accepted it, and then go on adding to their defiance of faith, never will their repentance be accepted; for they are those who have (of set purpose) gone astray." (3:90)
  • "Those who blasphemed and back away from the ways of Allah and die as blasphemers, Allah shall not forgive them". (4:48)
  • "Those who believe, then reject faith, then believe (again) and (again) reject faith, and go on increasing in unbelief,- Allah will not forgive them nor guide them on the way." (4:137)
  • "O ye who believe! If any from among you turn back from his faith, soon will Allah produce a people whom He (Allah) will love as they will love Him lowly with the believers, Mighty against the rejecters, fighting in the way of Allah, and never afraid of the reproachers of such as find fault. That is the Grace of Allah which He will bestow on whom He (Allah) pleases. And Allah encompasses all, and He knows all things". (5:54)

The Hadith (the body of quotes attributed to Muhammad) includes statements taken as supporting the death penalty for apostasy, such as:

  • "Kill whoever changes his religion"<ref>Sahih Bukhari Vol. 9, book 84, number 57, narrated via Ibn Abbas</ref>

and

  • "The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims."<ref>Sahih Bukhari Vol. 9, book 83, number 17, narrated via Abdullah</ref>

Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, a Pakistani Islamic scholar, writes that punishment for apostasy was part of Divine punishment for only those who denied the truth even after clarification in its ultimate form by Muhammad (he uses term Itmaam-i-hujjat), hence, he considers this command for a particular time and no longer punishable.<ref>The Punishment for Apostasy, Renaissance, Al-Mawrid Institute, Vol. 6, No. 11, November, 1996.[1]</ref>

In 2006, Abdul Rahman, the Afghan convert from Islam to Christianity has attracted worldwide attention about where Islam stood on religious freedom. Prosecutors asked for the death penalty for him. However, under heavy pressure from foreign governments, Afghan government claimed he was mentally unfit to stand trial and released him.

Islam Online, a hugely popular Muslim website, contains a fatwa dated 21 March 2004 and ascribed to 'IOL Shariah Researchers' says:

[edit] In Judaism

See also: yetzia bish'eila
See Also: List of converts to Christianity from Judaism

The term apostasy is also derived from Greek ἀποστάτης, meaning "political rebel," as applied to rebellion against God, its law and the faith of Israel (in Hebrew מרד) in the Hebrew Bible.

Other expressions for apostate as used by rabbinical scholars are "mumar" (מומר, literally "the one that is changed") and "poshea yisrael" (פושע ישראל, literally, "transgressor of Israel"), or simply "kofer" (כופר, literally "denier").

The Torah states:

Deuteronomy 13:6-10:

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which [is] as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; [Namely], of the gods of the people which [are] round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the [one] end of the earth even unto the [other] end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.<ref>Deuteronomy 13:6-10</ref>

Paul of Tarsus was accused of apostasy by the council of James and the elders, for teaching apostasy from the law given by Moses. Scholars consider this the reason by which some early Christians, such as the Ebionites, repudiated Paul for being an apostate.

In the Talmud, Elishah Ben Abuyah (known as Aḥer) is singled out as an apostate and epicurean by the Pharisees.

During the Spanish inquisition, a systematic conversion of Jews to Christianity took place, some of which under threats and force. These cases of apostasy provoked the indignation of the Jewish communities in Spain.

Several notorious Inquisitors, such as Juan Torquemada, and Don Francisco the archbishop of Coria, were descendants of apostate Jews. Other apostates who made their mark in history by attempting the conversion of other Jews in the 1300s include Juan de Valladolid and Astruc Remoch.

However, the issue of what qualifies as "apostasy" in Judaism can be complicated, since in many modern movements in Judaism, rabbis have generally considered the behavior of a Jew to be the determining factor in whether or not one is considered an adherent or an apostate of Judaism. Within these movements it is often recognized that it is possible for a Jew to strictly practise Judaism as a faith, while at the same time being an agnostic or atheist, giving rise to the riddle: "Q: What do you call a Jew who doesn't believe in God? A: A Jew." It is also worth noting that Reconstructionism does not require any belief in a deity, and that certain popular Reform prayer books such as Gates of Prayer offer some services without mention of God.

Abraham Isaac Kook,<ref>http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/rk16-kook.htm</ref><ref>http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/rk17-kook.htm</ref> first Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community in then Palestine, held that atheists were not actually denying God: rather, they were denying one of man's many images of God. Since any man-made image of God can be considered an idol, Kook held that, in practice, one could consider atheists as helping true religion burn away false images of god, thus in the end serving the purpose of true monotheism.

[edit] In Hinduism and Buddhism

Some information in this article or section has not been verified and may not be reliable.
Please check for any inaccuracies, and modify and cite sources as needed.

There is no concept of an apostate in Hinduism or Buddhism as there is no concept of conversion. Converts to other religions from Hinduism or Buddhism are accepted in these communities, as there is no Hindu or Buddhist procedure that defines apostasy. However, fear of forced conversions is high in mostly Hindu India and has prompted legal restrictions on forced conversions in certain states.

[edit] In alleged cults and new religious movements (NRMs)

Some scholars of new religious movements define as apostates specifically those individuals that leave new religious movements and become public opponents against their former faith to distinguish them from other former members who do not speak against their former faith, while others contest such a distinction.

Some scholars use the term post-cult trauma to describe the emotional and social problems that some members of cults and new religious movements experience after leaving the group, while other scholars assert that such traumas are either only applicable in rare cases or are more likely caused by deprogramming or pre-existing psychical problems, not by voluntary leavetaking.

Some notable apostates are part of the secular opposition to cults and new religious movements or the Christian countercult movement. Some apostates of new religious movements make public stands against their former religion to warn the public of what they see as its dangers and harm. Several of those apostates maintain websites on their former groups with unflattering perspectives, testimonials and information which, they say, is not disclosed by those groups to the public. Critics like Basava Premanand and several critical members of Elan Vital, complain about ad hominem attacks on them by their former organizations or by apologists of their former faith, and claim that their goal is to provide information that enables current and prospective member to make an informed choice about joining or staying with a religious movement.<ref>http://www.elanvital.com.au/faq/idx/11/084/article/</ref> Some of the groups being criticized, such as Elan Vital<ref>http://elanvital.org/faq/faq_opposition_i.htm</ref> and Adidam<ref>http://www.firmstand.org/articles/tolerance.html</ref> in turn, claim being the target of religious intolerance, hate and ill-will by these critics.

Apostates of new religious movements usually make a number of allegations against their former affiliation and their leaders, including failed promises; sexual abuse by the leader who claimed to be pure and divine; false, irrational and contradictory teachings; deception; financial exploitation; demonizing of the outside world; abuse of power and hypocrisy of the leadership; discrimination; unnecessary secrecy; teaching platitudes; discouragement of critical thinking; brainwashing; mind control; exclusivism; pedophilia; leadership that does not admit any mistakes; and more.

[edit] Opinions about the reliability of apostates' testimony and their motivations

The validity of testimony by former members of new religious movements, their motivations, and the roles they play in the opposition to cults and new religious movements are controversial subjects among scholars of religion, sociologists and psychologists:

  • Bryan R. Wilson, who was a professor of Sociology at Oxford University, writes that apostates of new religious movements, are generally in need of self-justification, seeking to reconstruct their own past and to excuse their former affiliations, while blaming those who were formerly their closest associates. Wilson coins [citation needed] the term of atrocity story that is in his view rehearsed by the apostate to explain how, by manipulation, coercion or deceit, he was recruited to a group that he now condemns.<ref name="Wilson 1981">Wilson, Bryan R. (Ed.) The Social Dimensions of Sectarianism, Rose of Sharon Press, 1981.</ref> Wilson also challenges the reliability of the apostate's testimony by saying that "[apostates] always be seen as one whose personal history predisposes him to bias with respect to both his previous religious commitment and affiliations, the suspicion must arise that he acts from a personal motivation to vindicate himself and to regain his self-esteem, by showing himself to have been first a victim but subsequently to have become a redeemed crusader."<ref name="Wilson 1994">Wilson, Bryan R. Apostates and New Religious Movements, Oxford, England, 1994</ref>
  • Jean Duhaime, a professor of religious studies and science of religion at the Université de Montréal writes, based upon his analysis of three memoirs by apostates of NRMs (by Dubreuil, Huguenin, Lavallée, see bibliography), that he is more balanced than some researchers, referring to Wilson, and that apostate testimonies cannot be dismissed, only because they are not objective, though he admits that they write atrocity stories in the definition by Bromley and Shupe. He asserts that the reasons why they tell their stories are, among others, to warn others to be careful in religious matters and to put order in their own lives.<ref name="Duhaime 2003">Duhaime, Jean (Université de Montréal) Les Témoignages de convertis et d'ex-adeptes (English: The testimonies of converts and former followers, in Mikael Rothstein et al. (ed.), New Religions in a Postmodern World, 2003, ISBN 87-7288-748-6</ref>
  • Bromley and Shupe while discussing the role of anecdotal atrocity stories by apostates, proposes that these are likely to paint a caricature of the group, shaped by the apostate's current role rather than his experience in the group, and question's their motives and rationale. Lewis Carter and David G. Bromley claim in some studies that the onus of pathology experienced by former members of new religions movements should be shifted from these groups to the coercive activities of the anti-cult movement.Bromley David G. et al., The Role of Anecdotal Atrocities in the Social Construction of Evil, <ref>in Bromley, David G et al. (ed.), Brainwashing Deprogramming Controversy: Sociological, Psychological, Legal, and Historical Perspectives (Studies in religion and society) p. 156, 1984, ISBN 0-88946-868-0</ref>
  • Gordon Melton, while testifying as an expert witness in a lawsuit, said that when investigating groups, one should not rely solely upon the unverified testimony of ex-members, and that hostile ex-members would invariably shade the truth and blow out of proportion minor incidents turning them into major incidents.<ref>http://www.hightruth.com/experts/melton.html</ref> Melton also follows the argumentation of Lewis Carter and David Bromley above and claims that as a result of this study, the treatment (coerced or voluntary) of former members as people in need of psychological assistance largely ceased and that an (alleged) lack of widespread need for psychological help by former members of new religions would in itself be the strongest evidence refuting early sweeping condemnations of new religions as causes of psychological trauma. <ref>"Melton 1999"Melton, Gordon J., Brainwashing and the Cults: The Rise and Fall of a Theory, 1999. [2]</ref>
  • Dr. Lonnie D. Kliever (1932 - 2004), Professor of Religious Studies of the Southern Methodist University, in his paper titled The Reliability of Apostate testimony about New Religious movements that he wrote upon request for Scientology, claims that the overwhelming majority of people who disengage from non-conforming religions harbor no lasting ill-will toward their past religious associations and activities, and that by contrast there is a much smaller number of apostates who are deeply invested and engaged in discrediting and performing actions designed to destroying the religious communities that once claimed their loyalties. He asserts that these dedicated opponents present a distorted view of the new religions and cannot be regarded as reliable informants by responsible journalists, scholars, or jurists. He claims that the reason for the lack of reliability of apostates is due to the traumatic nature of disaffiliation that he compares to a divorce and also due the influence of the anti-cult movement even on those apostates who were not deprogrammed or received exit counseling. <ref>Kliever 1995 Kliever. Lonnie D, Ph.D. The Reliability of Apostate Testimony About New Religious Movements, 1995. [3]</ref>
  • Dr. Phillip Charles Lucas<ref>http://www.culticstudiesreview.org/csr_profiles/indiv/lucas_phillip.htm</ref> interviewed ex-members of the Holy order of MANS/Christ the Savior Brotherhood and compared them with stayers, and outside observers and came to the conclusion that their testimonies are as (un-)reliable as those of stayers.<ref <ref>Lucas 1995 Lucas, Phillip Charles, From Holy Order of MANS to Christ the Savior Brotherhood: The Radical Transformation of an Esoteric Christian Order in Timothy Miller (ed.), America's Alternative Religions State University of New York Press, 1995</ref>
  • Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, a professor of psychology at the University of Haifa, argues that academic supporters of New religious movements are engaged in a rhetoric of advocacy, apologetics and propaganda, and writes that in the cases of cult catastrophies such as Peoples Temple, or Heaven's Gate, accounts by hostile outsiders and detractors have been closer to reality than other accounts, and that in that context statements by ex-members turned out to be more accurate than those of offered by apologists and NRM researchers. <ref>Beit-Hallahmi 1997 Beith-Hallahmi, Benjamin Dear Colleagues: Integrity and Suspicion in NRM Research, 1997, [4]</ref>
  • Professor Benjamin Zablocki<ref>http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~zablocki/</ref> analyzing leaver responses found the testimonies of former members as least as reliable as statements from the groups. <ref>Zablocki 1996 Zablocki, Benjamin, Reliability and validity of apostate accounts in the study of religious communities. Paper presented at the Association for the Sociology of Religion in New York City, Saturday, August 17, 1996.</ref>
  • Massimo Introvigne in his Defectors, Ordinary Leavetakers and Apostates<ref>Introvigne 1997</ref> defines three types of narratives constructed by apostates of new religious movements:
    • Type I naratives: characterize the exit process as defection, in which the organization and the former member negotiate an exiting process aimed at minimizing the damage for both parties.
    • Type II naratives: involve a minimal degree of negotiation between the exiting member, the organization it intends to leave, and the environment or society at large, impliying that the ordinary apostate holds no strong feelings concerning his past experience in the group.
    • Type III naratives: characterized by the ex-member dramatically reversing his loyalties and becomes a professional enemy of the organization he has left. These apostates, often join an oppositional coalition fighting the organization, often claiming victimization.
Introvigne argues that apostates professing type II narratives prevail among exiting members of controversial groups or organizations, while apostates that profess type III narratives are a vociferous minority.
  • Mark Dunlop, a former member of FWBO, argues that ex-members of cultic groups face great obstacles in exposing abuses committed by these groups, stating that ex-members "have great difficulty in disproving ad hominem arguments, such as that they have a personal axe to grind, that they are trying to find a scapegoat to excuse their own failure or deficiency [...] Cults have a vested interest in challenging the personal credibility of their critics, and may cultivate academic researchers who attack the credibility and motives of ex-members." Dunlop further expands on the specific difficulties faced by ex-members in proving harms done to them: "If an ex-member claims that they were subjected to brainwashing or mind-control techniques, not only is this again unprovable, but it is tantamount to admitting that they are a gullible and easily led person whose opinions, consequently, can't be worth much. If an ex-member suffers from any mental disorientation or evident psychiatric symptoms, this is likely to further diminish their credibility as a reliable informant." He concludes with "In general, the public credibility of critical ex-cultists seems to be somewhere in between that of Estate Agents and flying saucer abductees." In the article's summary, Dunlop argues that given that the apostates' testimony is ineffective due to lack of public credibility, and that other forms of criticism are also ineffectual for various reasons, cults are virtually immune from outside criticism making it very difficult to "expos[e] cults".<ref>Dunlop 2001</ref>
  • Thelema brings an interesting perspective to the idea of apostates. All apostates from other religions are welcomed in Thelema, because they are only in the first stage of the Hegelian thesis-antithesis-synthesis, which is a vital tool for personal growth and development. Thelema, though, cannot really have apostates from itself, as any such people could be classed under "doing their will."

[edit] Other uses of the term

In popular usage, religious terminology like "apostasy" is often appropriated for use within other public spheres characterized by strongly-held beliefs, like politics. Such usage typically carries a much less negative connotation than the religious usage does, and sometimes people will even describe themselves as apostates. Authors Kevin Phillips (a former Republican strategist turned harsh critic of the Bush administration) and Christopher Hitchens (a former left-wing commentator turned enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq War) are examples of people who are often described as political apostates.

[edit] Noted apostates

This is a list of some notable persons that have been labelled an apostate by notable sources, regardless whether they fit any of the mentioned definitions.

[edit] Christianity

[edit] Islam

[edit] Judaism

  • Baruch Spinoza's works was considered apostasy by some.<ref>Johnson, Daniel Dutch find the strength to take on their 'new Nazis' in The Daily Telegraph 10 November 2004
    "In the 17th century, Holland was the only country in Europe where a Jewish apostate, Spinoza, could publish philosophical works challenging the very basis of revealed religion. "</ref>

[edit] Hinduism

[edit] See also

[edit] References

<references />

  • Dunlop, Mark, The culture of Cults, 2001 [6]
  • Introvigne, Massimo Defectors, Ordinary Leavetakers and Apostates: A Quantitative Study of Former Members of New Acropolis in France - paper delivered at the 1997 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, San Francisco, November 23, 1997 [7]
  • The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906). The Kopelman Foundation. [8]
  • Lucas, Phillip Charles, The Odyssey of a New Religion: The Holy Order of MANS from New Age to Orthodoxy Indiana University press;
  • Lucas, Phillip Charles, Shifting Millennial Visions in New Religious Movements: The case of the Holy Order of MANS in The year 2000: Essays on the End edited by Charles B. Strozier, New York University Press 1997;
  • Lucas, Phillip Charles, The Eleventh Commandment Fellowship: A New Religious Movement Confronts the Ecological Crisis, Journal of Contemporary Religion 10:3, 1995:229-41;
  • Lucas, Phillip Charles, Social factors in the Failure of New Religious Movements: A Case Study Using Stark's Success Model SYZYGY: Journal of Alternative Religion and Culture 1:1, Winter 1992:39-53
  • Zablocki, Benjamin et al., Research on NRMs in the Post-9/11 World, in Lucas, Phillip Charles et al. (ed.), NRMs in the 21st Century: legal, political, and social challenges in global perspective, 2004, ISBN 0-14-596577-2
  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • Apostates of Islam, why Islam should be avoided [9]

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Testimonies, memoirs, and autobiographies

  • Dubreuil, J. P. 1994 L'Église de Scientology. Facile d'y entrer, difficile d'en sortir. Sherbrooke: private edition (ex-Church of Scientology)
  • Huguenin, T. 1995 Le 54e Paris Fixot (ex-Ordre du Temple Solaire who would be the 54th victim)
  • Kaufmann, Inside Scientology/Dianetics: How I Joined Dianetics/Scientology and Became Superhuman, 1995 [10]
  • Lavallée, G. 1994 L'alliance de la brebis. Rescapée de la secte de Moïse, Montréal: Club Québec Loisirs (ex-Roch Theriault)
  • Pignotti, Monica, My nine lives in Scientology, 1989, [11]
  • Wakefield, Margery, Testimony, 1996 [12]
  • Lawrence Woodcraft, Astra Woodcraft, Zoe Woodcraft, The Woodcraft Family, Video Interviews [13]

[edit] Writings by others

  • Bromley, David G. (Ed.) The Politics of Religious Apostasy: The Role of Apostates in the Transformation of Religious Movements CT, Praeger Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0-275-95508-7
  • Carter, Lewis, F. Lewis, Carriers of Tales: On Assessing Credibility of Apostate and Other Outsider Accounts of Religious Practices published in the book The Politics of Religious Apostasy: The Role of Apostates in the Transformation of Religious Movements edited by David G. Bromley Westport, CT, Praeger Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0-275-95508-7
  • Malinoski, Peter, Thoughts on Conducting Research with Former Cult Members , Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2001 [14]
  • Palmer, Susan J. Apostates and their Role in the Construction of Grievance Claims against the Northeast Kingdom/Messianic Communities [15]
  • Wright, Stuart. Post-Involvement Attitudes of Voluntary Defectors from Controversial New Religious Movements. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 23 (1984): pp. 172-82

[edit] External links

Look up apostasy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
ar:ردة

br:Apostazia ca:Apostasia de:Apostasie el:Αποστασία es:Apostasía fr:Apostasie ia:Apostasia it:Apostasia nl:Geloofsafval pl:Apostazja pt:Apostasia ro:Apostazie sv:Apostasi

Apostasy

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