Leaving God

Leaving God: Why I Left God and Why So Many Others Are Too

John Follis (2017)

Film Review

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.


*See Allen Downey and the Internet Religion Debate

14 thoughts on “Leaving God

  1. Really what I can’t understand is how so many people haven’t left God yet.
    “He could never to come to grips with a loving God allowing 9-11 to happen”. Well, it’s easier to understand if we remember that this god is the same god of the Bible, and according to the Bible he commits crimes and genocides all the time, usually punishing innocents for the sins of others: universal flood, Sodoma, Gomorra, plagues of Egypt including murder of first-borns, murder of 70.000 men because David did a census, etc. etc. In my opinion, the Bible is the best book against God.

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  2. “God” is just another means by which the sheeple are kept in line and fleeced by snake oil salesmen. “God” is just another excuse the white man has come up with in order to get tax free exemptions and amass a fortune in both land, money and everything else they can get their slimy hands on. And the sheeple sit up and listen to lies, lies and damn lies and then turn right around and inflict that shit on their children. That is the only reason my ass was sitting up in church every Sunday and was a Sunday school teacher and the treasurer of the Sunday school. As soon as I was of age, I refused to go listen to a pack of lies. In fact, when I was forced to go to church, I took a book with me and when my mother saw me reading it, she’d hit me to get me to close it and so made me focus on the lies the preacher was preaching.

    Most of us get indoctrinated into that mess when we are children and we get used to it. I am glad to say that I never got used to it. It took no 9/11 for me to realize that “God” did not exist. All the wars that have been fought before I was even born, all the enslavement of people, land theft, torture, bombs dropped on innocent people and that’s not enough to open your eyes? And you shouldn’t have to ‘sell’ someone on “God.” If “God” is that great, he’d sell himself.

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  3. Yep! The three Monotheist religions have an unsolvable problem: they claim that there is a personal God being allmighty, knowing everything and being good. Looking at the world this turns out to be absurd, a fundamental contradiction in itself. A number of People might “save” themself by not understanding what being allmighty and knowing everything logically realy means, but many feel the nonsense in this “theory”!
    Cordial Season´s Greetings

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  4. Monotheistic religions are a product of human psychopathy and the push to control and corral the immense potential of the human mind. Yet, religion wasn’t always this way nor the interpretation of myth which gave rise to it as a means to create integral communities and guard against the chaos of the unknown.

    It has nothing to do with the concept of a universal creative intelligence or “God”. It is interesting that from our restricted human perception most of us can barely handle coming to grips with our own emotional issues yet we make proclamations as to the utterly unknowable concept of cosmological meaning and purpose. It’s like an amoeba attempting calculus. Be careful not to the throw the baby out with the bathwater and confuse organised religion with a rich heritage of human interaction between the mind and subtle dimensions of reality.

    Thousands of years of adapative strategy has incorporated extraordinarily complex maps of the psyche and its relationship to the external world. Religion, in its purest form, is historical folklore where myth and morality is transferred to subsequent generations to make sense of past wisdom and anchor it in the present. Without siuch an anchor there is every likelihood that nihilism would takeover as the replacement of mythical narratives that nourish the best in ourselves. This is, in fact exactly what we are seeing occurring in our western culture in particular – a desperate crisis of meaning.

    The Catholic Church is a vast corporation and exhibiting signs of collective pathology, most notably as a haven for paedophiles, occultists and corrupt officials allowing doctrinal abuse of all kinds. Yet, despite this cloak of evil. darkness always has within it diamonds of light, and vice versa. This and other forms of religion have within them the seeds of spiritual dispensation and certain truths forgotten and misinterpretated. These truths concerning the human condition far outstrip anything post-modern or secular belief can offer since it is largely devoid of thousands of years of socio-biological strategies transposed to myth and folklore. Without such nourishment mental illness and auto-immune dysfunction has a very clear route into one’s mind-body complex.

    Leaving organised religion is a good thing, but be very sure before we tear down traditions and their structures that we have something of equal psycho-spiritual merit rather than just the latest ideological fads of the last century. Otherwise, you are leaving the door wide open to a chaotic vcacuum of major proportions.

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  5. Wow. Great analysis MK. Thanks for your extremely thought provoking comment. I agree that human beings have a fundamental need for for organized belief systems and ritual. In my own rather simplistic way of viewing things, I’ve always attributed it to a need to be spared having to make too many decisions. When people are bombarded with too many decisions, they seem to break down mentally.

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    • Yes, well I think the “need to be spared having to make too many decisions” equates well with the Old Testament Yahweh/Jehovah programming which is rooted in fear and dogma. Our own resonsibility is then diluted in favour of some saviour. Religion then acts as a buffer to uncertainty and the unknown, And when that black and white certainty is taken away very often people’s fragile inner state fragments. The same can be said of any group identity which extinguishes individual autonomy and personal belief to the point of tribalism and all the pathologies that tend to arise within them, something we are seeing frequently today from both left as well as right-leaning ideologies.

      There is the kind of religion that honours myth, personalised ritual and human relationships that nourish creativity and the boundaries and discipline needed to encapsulate it. Sociological studies of the past and present reveal that religious belief – even when it is somewhat dogmatic – provides the needed glue within communities that secularism does not. So, I think we need a new kind of living, practical religion that takes account of healthy psychic elements that have been lost and distorted within organised religion, while also giving equal importance to the creativity of art and science.

      Anyway…Interesting subject, thanks for posting.

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