Leaving God: Why I Left God and Why So Many Others Are Too
John Follis (2017)
In Leaving God, a lapsed Catholic traces the steep decline in organized religion in the US. After running for decades at 4-5%, the percentage of Americans designating their religion as “none,” began shooting up in the early nineties. It reached 25% in 2016 (38% in 18-29 year olds). In fact only 1% of 18-29 year olds acknowledge belief in God.
These figures are accompanied by a big increase in American church closures – between 4,000 – 10,000 a year. This even though religion permeates nearly every facet of of American life – not only our government and courts, but our colleges, organized sports events and currency.
Follis agrees with IT researcher Allen Downey that Americans’ growing disillusionment with organized religion is directly related to Internet access.* When people start to question religious dogma, the web is a great way to touch base with like minded people, as well as to research the brutality and violence of the Judeo-Christian religions.
Most of the film traces the personal journey that led Follis to leave his church. He was very much influenced by The Clergy Project, a website that links clergy who have lost their faith with pastors who have publicly “come out” against organized religion.
Hollis asserts that 2001 was the real turning point for him. He could never to come to grips with a loving God allowing 9-11 to happen. Nor the revelations that came out over the next year that the Catholic Church had systematically covered up the sexual abuse of 17,000 minors by 6,000 clergy.
The film includes a great clip of George Carlin describing religion as “the greatest bullshit story every told,” and comedian Ricky Gervais reading from the Old Testament.