Recovering from Religion

by Ruth Haydock, originally published in the 2013 Summer edition of Humanitie magazine.

We were delighted when Ruth Haydock contacted us in response to Lorna Wallace’s “Young. Free and Humanist’ article in the last issue. Not only is Ruth the press officer of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies, she started the first Recovering From Religion meeting in St Andrews three months ago. Hers is currently one of only three such groups in the whole of the UK. We’re inspired by this young woman’s Initiative and happy to promote her group, which meets In the Whey Pat. St Andrews every month. More Information is available on their website at http://recoverlngtromrellglonscotland.wordpress.com

I am recovering from religion and have been for the past two years. In hindsight I always felt somewhat ill at ease in church and I put down this discomfort to being a ‘bad Christian’. My dad died suddenly in 2010 aged 52 and my family went into shock. I had been encouraged to believe that people could come back from the dead and that miracles were real, so I was perplexed and distraught that this could happen without God stopping it or fixing it. I had been on the road to unbelief for a while, but my dad’s passing fast tracked me towards coming to terms with the fact that I no longer believed in a higher power.

Losing my belief in God has taken a long time and it is not an easy process. It took months for me to discover that I could make decisions on my own without feeling I needed to pray about them first. The fear of dying took months to address, after years of being told that I must fear death and hell.

My family still believe in God and I have found them very difficult to talk to about my lack of belief. Thankfully, my boyfriend has been very supportive and we have come to terms with our unbelief together.

Due to feeling isolated at home and ill at ease with religious friends. I began searching for non-religious communities. 1 was disappointed to find that the only Recovering From Religion (RR) group was in London but I made the effort to go in January’ 2013. Since then I wished I knew others here in Fife that were ex-believers who understood what I was going through. Being unable to encounter people who could relate to me in my university atheist society, spurred me to set up my own local “RR” group in St Andrews.

Communities of ex believers are so important, as more than often people feel very isolated after leaving religion behind. RR groups are vital to the emotional wellbeing of ex-believers who have struggled with the loss of their beliefs. I greatly value those that attend the group in St Andrews. I have gained a lot of support from them that I couldn’t find elsewhere and they have reminded me that I am not alone.

I would be more than happy to meet with anyone in Scotland who would be willing to set up a Recovering From Religion group. To start up a group you just need to fill out a form at: http://recoveringfromreligion.org/ and once you hear back from them, all the leaders have to do is organise a date, a time and a place! Taking action and setting up a group like this could not only change your life for the better but many others.

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