As I travel making presentations on my book, inevitably several people want their copy autographed and want to tell me the story of how they escaped religion. The stories are at once fascinating and heart rending. It has been a joke for decades among former Catholics that they are recovering Catholics. It generally meant that they were actively trying to get over the programming and brainwashing in guilt and sexual repression taught in Catholic schools and churches. I would suggest a slightly wider category - recovering religionists. To that end, I am starting a network of groups interested in talking about how they escaped religion and open to helping others escape religion. Mainstream religions have decried the tactics of various cults over the years from Jehovah Witnesses, to Heaven’s Gate to Scientology but I would suggest that the difference is only in degree. Mainstream religions use many of the same techniques to create guilt, sexual inhibition, hatred of other groups, etc. that cults use. Many describe their escape from religion as liberating. One woman compared it to the freedom she feels when sailing. She said, “My Christian teachers told me over and again that there is freedom in Christ but I only experienced a type of mental slavery that required unquestioning obedience. Once I dropped all religion, I felt a freedom, a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. My life changed dramatically, especially my interpretation of events and the world, I began seeing things as they are, not as the Sunday School teachers said they were. It was like the feeling I get when I sail my boat. Free and liberating. ”

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