Apostatized

"Apostates" redirects here. For other uses, see Apostates (disambiguation).
For other uses, see Apostasy (disambiguation).

Apostasy (/əˈpɒstəsi/; Greek: ἀποστασία (apostasia), 'a defection or revolt') is the formal disaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. One who commits apostasy (or who apostatises) is known as an apostate. The term apostasy is used by sociologists to mean renunciation and criticism of, or opposition to, a person's former religion, in a technical sense and without pejorative connotation.

The term is occasionally also used metaphorically to refer to renunciation of a non-religious belief or cause, such as a political party, brain trust, or a sports team.

Apostasy is generally not a self-definition: very few former believers call themselves apostates because of the pejorative implications of the term.

Many religious groups and some states punish apostates. Apostates may be shunned by the members of their former religious group[1] or subjected to formal or informal punishment. This may be the official policy of the religious group or may be the action of its members. Certain churches may in certain circumstances excommunicate the apostate, while some religious scriptures demand the death penalty for apostates.

Sociological definitions

The American sociologist Lewis A. Coser (following the German philosopher and sociologist Max Scheler) defines 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."[2][3]

The American sociologist David G. Bromley defined the apostate role as follows and distinguished it from the defector and whistleblower roles.[3]

  • 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.
  • Whistle-blower 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 whistle blower and regulatory agency is one which depicts the whistle-blower as motivated by personal conscience and the organization by defense of the public interest.

Stuart A. Wright, an American sociologist and author, asserts that apostasy is a unique phenomenon and a distinct type of religious defection, in which the apostate is a defector "who is aligned with an oppositional coalition in an effort to broaden the dispute, and embraces public claims-making activities to attack his or her former group."[4]

Law

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[5] 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.[6]

Countries

In 2011, 20 countries across the globe prohibited its citizens from apostasy; in these countries, it is a criminal offense to abandon one's faith to become atheist, or convert to another religion.[7][8] All 20 of these countries were majority Islamic nations, of which 11 were in the Middle East. No country in the Americas or Europe has any law forbidding apostasy and restricting the freedom to convert to any religion. Furthermore, across the globe, no country with Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, agnostic or atheist majority had any criminal or civil laws forbidding or encouraging apostasy, or had laws restricting an individual's right to convert from one religion to another.[9][10][11][12]

The following are some nations that treat apostasy under their criminal laws.

  • Iran – illegal (death penalty)[13][14][15]
  • Egypt – illegal (3 years' imprisonment)[15]
  • Pakistan – illegal (death penalty[15] since 2007)
  • United Arab Emirates – illegal (3 years' imprisonment, flogging)[16]
  • Somalia – illegal (death penalty)[17]
  • Afghanistan – illegal (death penalty, although the U.S. and other coalition members have put pressure that has prevented recent executions)[18][19]
  • Saudi Arabia – illegal (death penalty, although there have been no recently reported executions)[15][20]
  • Sudan – illegal (death penalty, although there have only been recent reports of torture, and not of execution)[21][22]
  • Qatar – illegal (death penalty)[23]
  • Yemen – illegal (death penalty)[23]
  • Malaysia – illegal in five of 13 states (fine, imprisonment, and flogging)[24][25]
  • Mauritania – illegal (death penalty if still apostate after 3 days)[26]
  • Morocco – illegal to proselytise conversion (15 years' imprisonment)[27]
  • Jordan – possibly illegal (fine, jail, child custody loss, marriage annulment) although officials claim otherwise, convictions are recorded for apostasy[28][29][30]
  • Oman – legal in criminal code, but according to the family code, a father can lose custody of his child[31]

A few Islamic majority nations, not in the above list, prosecute apostasy even though they do not have apostasy laws, and only have blasphemy laws. In these nations, there is no general agreement or legal code to define “blasphemy”. The lack of definition and legal vagueness has been used to include apostasy as a form of blasphemy. For example, in Indonesia, the phrase used in the Blasphemy Law is penyalahgunaan dan/atau penodaan agama, meaning “to misuse or disgrace a religion”. Persons accused of blasphemy have included murtad (apostate), kafir (non-Muslim/unbeliever), aliran sesat (deviant group), sesat (deviant), or aliran kepercayaan (mystical believers). Indonesia has invoked blasphemy laws to address crimes of riddah (apostasy); zandaqah (heresy); nifaq (hypocrisy); and kufr (unbelief). Islamic activists have demanded, and state prosecutors have proposed, prison sentences to death as punishment for such crimes.[32][33][34]

Religions

Hinduism

There is no concept of heresy or apostasy in Hinduism. Hinduism grants absolute freedom for an individual to leave or choose his faith; on the Path of God. Hindus believe all sincere faiths ultimately lead to the same God.[35]

Baha'i

Both marginal and apostate Baha'ies have existed in the Baha'i community[36] who are known as nāqeżīn.[37]

Muslims often regard adherents of the Bahá'í faith as apostates from Islam,[38] and there have been cases in some Muslim countries where Baha'is have been harassed and persecuted.[39]

Christianity

The Christian understanding of apostasy is "a willful falling away from, or rebellion against, Christian truth. Apostasy is the rejection of Christ by one who has been a Christian....", though many believe that biblically this is impossible ('once saved, forever saved').[40] "Apostasy is the antonym of conversion; it is deconversion."[41] The Greek noun apostasia (rebellion, abandonment, state of apostasy, defection)[42] is found only twice in the New Testament (Acts 21:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:3).[43] However, "the concept of apostasy is found throughout Scripture."[44] The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery states that "There are at least four distinct images in Scripture of the concept of apostasy. All connote an intentional defection from the faith."[45] These images are: Rebellion; Turning Away; Falling Away; Adultery.[46]

  • Rebellion: "In classical literature apostasia was used to denote a coup or defection. By extension the Septuagint always uses it to portray a rebellion against God (Joshua 22:22; 2 Chronicles 29:19)."[46]
  • Turning away: "Apostasy is also pictured as the heart turning away from God (Jeremiah 17:5-6) and righteousness (Ezekiel 3:20). In the OT it centers on Israel's breaking covenant relationship with God though disobedience to the law (Jeremiah 2:19), especially following other gods (Judges 2:19) and practicing their immorality (Daniel 9:9-11). . . . Following the Lord or journeying with him is one of the chief images of faithfulness in the Scriptures. . . . The . . . Hebrew root (swr) is used to picture those who have turned away and ceased to follow God ('I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me,' 1 Samuel 15:11). . . . The image of turning away from the Lord, who is the rightful leader, and following behind false gods is the dominant image for apostasy in the OT."[46]
  • Falling away: "The image of falling, with the sense of going to eternal destruction, is particularly evident in the New Testament. . . . In his [Christ’s] parable of the wise and foolish builder, in which the house built on sand falls with a crash in the midst of a storm (Matthew 7:24-27) . . . he painted a highly memorable image of the dangers of falling spiritually."[47]
  • Adultery: One of the most common images for apostasy in the Old Testament is adultery.[48] "Apostasy is symbolized as Israel the faithless spouse turning away from Yahweh her marriage partner to pursue the advances of other gods (Jeremiah 2:1-3; Ezekiel 16). . . . 'Your children have forsaken me and sworn by god that are not gods. I supplied all their needs, yet they committed adultery and thronged to the houses of prostitutes' (Jeremiah 5:7, NIV). Adultery is used most often to graphically name the horror of the betrayal and covenant breaking involved in idolatry. Like literal adultery it does include the idea of someone blinded by infatuation, in this case for an idol: 'How I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts . . . which have lusted after their idols' (Ezekiel 6:9)."[46]

Speaking with specific regards to apostasy in Christianity, Michael Fink writes:

Apostasy is certainly a biblical concept, but the implications of the teaching have been hotly debated.[49] The debate has centered on the issue of apostasy and salvation. Based on the concept of God's sovereign grace, some hold that, though true believers may stray, they will never totally fall away. Others affirm that any who fall away were never really saved. Though they may have "believed" for a while, they never experienced regeneration. Still others argue that the biblical warnings against apostasy are real and that believers maintain the freedom, at least potentially, to reject God's salvation.[50]

Islam

Main articles: Apostasy in Islam and Takfir


In Islamic literature, apostasy is called irtidād or ridda; an apostate is called murtadd, which literally means 'one who turns back' from Islam.[52] Someone born to a Muslim parent, or who has previously coverted to Islam, becomes a murtadd if he or she verbally denies any principle of belief proscribed by Qur'an or a Hadith, deviates from approved Islamic belief (ilhad), or if he or she commits an action such as treating a copy of the Qurʾan with disrespect.[53][54][55] A person born to a Muslim parent who later rejects Islam is called a murtad fitri, and a person who converted to Islam and later rejects the religion is called a murtad milli.[56][57][58]

There are multiple verses in Qur'an that condemn apostasy,[59] and multiple Hadiths include statements that support the death penalty for apostasy.[60]

The concept and crime of Apostasy has been extensively covered in Islamic literature since 7th century.[61] A person is considered apostate if he or she converts from Islam to another religion.[62] A person is an apostate even if he or she believes in most of Islam, but verbally or in writing denies of one or more principles or precepts of Islam. For example, if a Muslim declares that universe has always existed, he or she is an apostate; similarly, a Muslim who doubts the existence of Allah, enters a church or temple, makes offerings to and worships an idol or stupa or any image of God, celebrates festivals of non-Muslim religion, helps build a church or temple, confesses a belief in rebirth or reincarnation of God, disrespects Qur'an or Islam's Prophet are all individually sufficient evidence of apostasy.[63][64][65]

The Islamic law on apostasy and the punishment is considered by many Muslims to be one of the immutable laws under Islam.[66] It is a hudud crime,[67][68] which means it is a crime against God,[69] and the punishment has been fixed by God. The punishment for apostasy includes[70] state enforced annulment of his or her marriage, seizure of the person's children and property with automatic assignment to guardian and heirs, and death for the apostate.[61][71][72]

According to some scholars, if a Muslim consciously and without coercion declares their rejection of Islam and does not change their mind after the time allocated by a judge for research, then the penalty for male apostates is death, and for females life imprisonment. However, this view has been rejected by some modern Muslim scholars (e.g. Hasan al-Turabi), who argue that the hadith in question should be taken to apply only to political betrayal of the Muslim community, rather than to apostasy in general.[73][original research?] These scholars regard apostasy as a serious crime, but argue for the freedom to convert to and from Islam without legal penalty, and consider the aforementioned Hadith quotation as insufficient justification for capital punishment.

Today, apostasy is a crime in most Muslim countries, and is subject in some countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, to the death penalty, although executions for apostasy are rare. Apostasy is legal in secular Muslim countries such as Turkey.[74] In numerous Islamic majority countries, many individuals have been arrested and punished for the crime of apostasy without any associated capital crimes.[75][76][77][78] In a 2013 report based on international survey of religious attitudes, more than 50% of Muslim population in 6 Islamic countries supported death penalty for any Muslim who leaves Islam (apostasy).[79][80] A similar survey of Muslim population in the United Kingdom, in 2007, found nearly a third of 16 to 24-year-old faithfuls believed that Muslims who convert to another religion should be executed, while less than a fifth of those over 55 believed the same.[81]

Muslim historians recognize 632 AD as the year when first regional apostasy from Islam emerged, immediately after the death of Muhammed.[82] The civil wars that followed are now called Riddah wars (Wars of Islamic Apostasy), with the massacre at Battle of Karbala holding a special place for Shia Muslims.

Judaism

Main article: Apostasy in 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" and heretic).

The Torah states:

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.
Deuteronomy 13:6–10[83]

The prophetic writings of Isaiah and Jeremiah provide many examples of defections of faith found among the Israelites (e.g., Isaiah 1:2–4 or Jeremiah 2:19), as do the writings of the prophet Ezekiel (e.g., Ezekiel 16 or 18). Israelite kings were often guilty of apostasy, examples including Ahab (I Kings 16:30–33), Ahaziah (I Kings 22:51–53), Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:6,10), Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:1–4), or Amon (2 Chronicles 33:21–23) among others. (Amon's father Manasseh was also apostate for many years of his long reign, although towards the end of his life he renounced his apostasy. Cf. 2 Chronicles 33:1–19)

In the Talmud, Elisha 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 Tomás de 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 14th century include Juan de Valladolid and Astruc Remoch.

Abraham Isaac Kook,[84][85] 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.

In practice Judaism does not follow the Torah's prescription on this point: there is no punishment today for leaving Judaism, other than being excluded from participating in the rituals of the Jewish community, including leading worship, being called to the Torah and being buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Other religious movements

Controversies over new religious movements (NRMs) have often involved apostates, some of whom join organizations or web sites opposed to their former religions. A number of scholars have debated the reliability of apostates and their stories, often called "apostate narratives".

One camp that broadly speaking questions apostate narratives includes David G. Bromley,[86][87] Daniel Carson Johnson,[88] Dr. Lonnie D. Kliever (1932–2004),[89] Gordon Melton,[90] and Bryan R. Wilson.[91] An opposing camp less critical of apostate narratives as a group includes Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi,[92] Dr. Phillip Charles Lucas,[93][94][95] Jean Duhaime,[96] Mark Dunlop,[97][98] Michael Langone,[99] and Benjamin Zablocki.[100]

Some scholars have attempted to classify apostates of NRMs. James T. Richardson proposes a theory related to a logical relationship between apostates and whistleblowers, using Bromley's definitions,[101] in which the former predates the latter. A person becomes an apostate and then seeks the role of whistleblower, which is then rewarded for playing that role by groups that are in conflict with the original group of membership such as anti-cult organizations. These organizations further cultivate the apostate, seeking to turn him or her into a whistleblower. He also describes how in this context, apostates' accusations of "brainwashing" are designed to attract perceptions of threats against the well being of young adults on the part of their families to further establish their newfound role as whistleblowers.[102] Armand L. Mauss, define true apostates as those exiters that have access to oppositional organizations which sponsor their careers as such, and which validate the retrospective accounts of their past and their outrageous experiences in new religions, making a distinction between these and whistleblowers or defectors in this context.[103] Donald Richter, a current member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) writes that this can explain the writings of Carolyn Jessop and Flora Jessop, former members of the FLDS church who consistently sided with authorities when children of the YFZ ranch were removed over charges of child abuse.[104] However, Donald Richter remains a member in good standing and loyal to the leadership of the fundamentalist sect from which the former members fled and has no apparent training or expertise in psychology or behavioral sciences. Richter has been criticized for his biased and propaganda-style writing.[105]

Massimo Introvigne in his Defectors, Ordinary Leavetakers and Apostates[106] defines three types of narratives constructed by apostates of new religious movements:

  • Type I narratives 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 narratives involve a minimal degree of negotiation between the exiting member, the organization they intend to leave, and the environment or society at large, implying that the ordinary apostate holds no strong feelings concerning his past experience in the group. They may make "comments on the organization’s more negative features or shortcomings" while also recognizing that there was "something positive in the experience."
  • Type III narratives are characterized by the ex-member dramatically reversing their loyalties and becoming a professional enemy of the organization they have 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.

Notable examples

This is a list of some notable persons who have been reportedly labeled as apostates in reliable published sources.

Christianity

Islam

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali labelled an apostate by Theo van Gogh according to Ayaan Hirsi Ali[107]
  • Tasleema Nasreen from Bangladesh, the author of Lajja, has been declared apostate – "an apostate appointed by imperialist forces to vilify Islam" – by several fundamentalist clerics in Dhaka[108]
  • Younus Shaikh from Pakistan was sentenced to death for his remarks on Muhammad, considered blasphemous; but later on the judge ordered a re-trial.[109]

See also

References

Further reading

  • Bromley, David G. 1988. Falling From the Faith: The Causes and Consequences of Religious Apostasy. Beverly Hills: Sage.
  • Dunlop, Mark, The culture of Cults, 2001 [2]
  • [3]
  • The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906). The Kopelman Foundation. [4]
  • 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
  • Wright, Stuart A. 1988. "Leaving New Religious Movements: Issues, Theory and Research," pp. 143–165 in David G. Bromley (ed.), Falling From the Faith. Beverly Hills: Sage.
  • Wright, Stuart A. 1991. "Reconceptualizing Cult Coercion and Withdrawal: A Comparative Analysis of Divorce and Apostasy." Social Forces 70 (1):125–145.
  • Wright, Stuart A. and Helen R. Ebaugh. 1993. "Leaving New Religions," pp. 117–138 in David G. Bromley and Jeffrey K. Hadden (eds.), Handbook of Cults and Sects in America. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
  • 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 0-415-96577-2
Testimonies, memoirs, and autobiographies
  • Babinski, Edward (editor), Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists. Prometheus Books, 2003. ISBN 1-59102-217-7; ISBN 978-1-59102-217-6
  • 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 [5]
  • Lavallée, G. 1994 L'alliance de la brebis. Rescapée de la secte de Moïse, Montréal: Club Québec Loisirs (ex-Roch Thériault)
  • Pignotti, Monica, My nine lives in Scientology, 1989, [6]
  • Wakefield, Margery, Testimony, 1996 [7]
  • Lawrence Woodcraft, Astra Woodcraft, Zoe Woodcraft, The Woodcraft Family, Video Interviews [8]
Writings by others
  • 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
  • Elwell, Walter A. (Ed.) Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 1 A–I, Baker Book House, 1988, pages 130-131, "Apostasy". ISBN 0-8010-3447-7
  • Malinoski, Peter, Thoughts on Conducting Research with Former Cult Members , Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2001 [9]
  • Palmer, Susan J. Apostates and their Role in the Construction of Grievance Claims against the Northeast Kingdom/Messianic Communities [10]
  • Wilson, S.G., Leaving the Fold: Apostates and Defectors in Antiquity. Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2004. ISBN 0-8006-3675-9; ISBN 978-0-8006-3675-3
  • Wright, Stuart. "Post-Involvement Attitudes of Voluntary Defectors from Controversial New Religious Movements". ''Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 23 (1984):172–182.
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