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Leaving Faith: Building a new life after religion

  • New Unity @ Upper Street 277a Upper Street London, England United Kingdom (map)
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Free tickets for this event are now available here. Please sign up if you would like to attend.

And don’t forget to check out the Facebook event.

Belief in a religion is a fundamental human right, and with it is the right not to believe. Unfortunately, this is not afforded to everyone and for some people leaving their faith can be a complicated, challenging, and even dangerous process. Those who leave religion - sometimes known as apostates - can bring shame and dishonour to their family, and as a result, people who turn their back on the faith they were raised with often experience emotional and physical abuse. Many are shunned and sometimes entirely disowned by their families and communities.

Join us for a panel discussion and hear from apostates who have left different religions and have since rebuilt their lives. Also, learn from experts who work with victims of apostasy related abuse.

New Unity is hosting this event alongside Faith to Faithless, a volunteer-led organisation that supports people who have left religion, including ex-Evangelical Christians, ex-Ultra-Orthodox Jews, ex-Muslims, ex-Jehovah's Witnesses, and others. It is a programme within Humanists UK, the national charity for the non-religious that has worked to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail since 1896.

Panellists include:

Edward Prout, Director of Community Services, Humanists UK: Teddy is an ex-evangelical Christian. 'Born again' at 16 years old he struggled with the theological condemnation of being gay while identifying as a gay Christian. He was repeatedly offered gay conversion therapy throughout his time in the church. He left the religion in his mid-30s.

Andy Pakula, New Unity - a non-religious church: Andy is a minister, Jewish, a scientist, and an atheist. He has led the non-religious church New Unity – in Hackney and Islington – since 2006. Born in the US, Andy spent the first several decades of his life training to be a biologist and then working in the biotechnology industry. In midlife, Andy became increasingly keen to use his talents in service of good. He trained to become a Unitarian minister and began his ministry at New Unity when he and his family moved to London in 2006.

Aliyah Saleem, Chair, Faith to Faithless: Aliyah is an ex-Muslim, she was born into a Sunni family and educated at an Islamic girls' private boarding school in Nottingham before studying Islamic theology in Pakistan. She is an advocate for secular education and in 2015 co-founded Faith to Faithless to raise awareness of apostasy. In 2018 Aliyah published her first book, 'Leaving Faith Behind'.

Ste Richardsson, Vice-Chair, Faith to Faithless: Ste comes from a long line of prominent elders, and his great grandfather was one of the first Jehovah's Witnesses in the Caribbean. After leaving the religion in 2007 and coming out as gay, Ste was disowned by his family and made homeless. Today Ste leads the apostate meet-ups and museum tours for Faith to Faithless and is a French and Japanese translator.

Following the discussion, there will be an opportunity for audience Q&A with the panel. We hope you'll join us for what promises to be an informative, interesting and thought-provoking event.

Earlier Event: June 16
Not Just a Beard