Books and articles I’ve found useful on the topic of leaving toxic and dysfunctional religion

This page is a work in progress and more details will be added as time and creative energy permit.


  • Janet Heimlich (2011). Breaking their will: shedding light on religious child maltreatment. Prometheus Books. Kindle edition. 26/10/2016 – a disturbing book at times, I struggled to read it due to the emotional heaviness of it. However it is of paramount importance that people understand that under the veneer of social acceptability of many religious groups, one does not have to dig very far before encountering shocking abuses. Even in my own spiritual journey in middle class Australian Pentecostalism, I have met more than a few people who talked about how were subjected to “moderate” forms of maltreatment and it is for their sake I sought to become more informed about this massive problem (corporal punishment, being forced to consume products like soap and hot chili sauces as punishment for perceived coarse language, having their possessions confiscated and destroyed because they were ostensibly possessed by demons, being forced to attend “schools” with almost no social interaction and no formal instruction, people who gave tens of thousands of dollars to church interests through tithing and building programmes while going hungry, the unquestioning promotion of extreme control over the actions of even the youngest babies within the church… the list goes on – stuff that, on the most part, was not illegal but was certainly not a standard one would expect of devout followers of Christ, women who were forced to quit their jobs by their “spiritual masters” eg their husbands, people).
  • Stephen Law (2011). Believing bullshit: how not to get sucked into an intellectual black hole. New York: Prometheus Books. 26/10/2016 – This book is written by a philosophy lecturer and while it is not anti-religion per say, it deconstructs popular Christian apologetics arguments (ineffable mystery, young earth creationism, conspiracy theories about medicine and science, quibbling over semantics, and subjective experience used in place of objectively measurable evidence). I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. It read to me like a very intelligent author trying to write for an audience he believes to be quite beneath him. However, despite the patronisingly dumbed-down language, his critiques of young earth creationism are very good and I considered that to be the most useful chapter in the book.
  • Marlene Winell (2006). Leaving the fold: a guide for former fundamentalists and others leaving their religion. Apocryphile Press. Kindle edition. 26/10/2016 – To date, this is probably the best book for ex-fundamentalists and ex-Pentecostals I’ve ever read. It would serve as a useful adjunct reading and workbook for individuals who are also obtaining suitable mental health support if they are suffering post-church psychological trauma.

Page first published: Monday, 30 May 2016

Date last updated: 26 October 2016