List of converts to nontheism

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This list of converts to nontheism includes individuals who formerly identified with a religious affiliation but have since then openly rejected their belief in a god (or gods) or professed to agnosticism. The list is organised by former religious affiliation.


Name Country Notes
Ingmar Bergman[1] Sweden Film director whose father was a parson; stated he lost his faith at age 8, but did not fully come to terms with that until making Winter Light
Napoleon Bonaparte[2] France Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815; was raised Catholic[3]
Bob Brown[4] Australia Australian senator and former Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens
Fidel Castro Cuba Cuban communist revolutionary and politician; Prime Minister of Cuba (1959-1976), and President (1976-2008); baptized into the Roman Catholic Church at the age of eight; later became an atheist[5]
Nikolay Chernyshevsky[6] Russia Revolutionary democrat, materialist philosopher, critic, and socialist
Pat Condell United Kingdom Writer, political commentator, comedian and atheist internet personality[7]
Richard Dawkins United Kingdom British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author; was brought up as an Anglican until ceasing to believe in a deity in his teens, concluding that the theory of evolution was a better explanation for life's complexity
Jerry DeWitt United States Former pastor of two evangelical churches; publicly converted to atheism in 2011 after twenty-five years of Christian ministry[8]
Jonathan Edwards[9] United Kingdom Former British triple jumper; former Olympic, Commonwealth, European and World champion; formerly a devout Christian, and even presented episodes of the BBC Christian worship programme Songs of Praise
Bob Hawke[10] Australia Former Australian politician who served as the 23rd Prime Minister of Australia from 1983 to 1991
Abraham Kovoor[11] India Indian professor and rationalist, noted for Abraham Kovoor's challenge
Vladimir Lenin[12] Russia Russian revolutionary, then ruler of the USSR; was baptized into Orthodox Christianity but later renounced his belief in God
Karl Marx Germany Philosopher; baptised into the Lutheran Church
Joseph McCabe[13] United Kingdom Ordained as "Father Antony", but left the Catholic priesthood and abandoned theism; then wrote works like The Totalitarian Church of Rome and stated that "Atheism will in this century be the common attitude of civilized people"
Benito Mussolini[14] Italy Italian politician, journalist and leader of the National Fascist Party, ruling the country as Prime Minister from 1922 to his ousting in 1943
Friedrich Nietzsche[15] Germany German philosopher, poet, cultural critic and classical philologist
Millosh Gjergj Nikolla Albania Albanian poet and writer; trained to be an Orthodox priest, but became an atheist[16]
Nathan Phelps[17] Canada American Canadian author and LGBT rights activist; son of Fred Phelps
Brad Pitt[18] United States Actor; raised as Southern Baptist
Joseph Stalin Russia Russian revolutionary, then ruler of the USSR; studied to be an Orthodox priest but became an agnostic after reading Karl Marx's books.[19]
Julia Sweeney United States American actress, comedian and author[20][21]
Charles Templeton Canada Co-founder of Youth for Christ; rejected Christianity for agnosticism after a struggle with doubts[22]
Josip Broz Tito Croatia Leader of the Yugoslav Partisans, Europe's most effective anti-Nazi resistance movement; a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman, serving in various roles from 1945 until his death in 1980; formerly Roman Catholic;,[23] later became an atheist[24][25]
John Abraham India Bollywood actor born to a Zoroastrian mother and a Marthomite Syrian Christian father; left Christianity and became an agnostic atheist[26][27][28]



Javed Akhtar is a noted Indian writer and lyricist.
Former Muslim and Dutch politician Ehsan Jami was one of the two founders of the Central Committee for Ex-Muslims.[37]


See also: Jewish atheism
Name Country Notes
Jack Cohen United Kingdom Reproductive biologist; has worked with science fiction writers; co-wrote books including Evolving the Alien; his grandfather was a rabbi; he attends synagogue for cultural reasons, but is an atheist[83]
Émile Durkheim France Sociologist descended from a long line of rabbis; had an interest in religion as a social phenomenon; wrote The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life; was an agnostic by adulthood;[84] besides an interest, he saw some value in religion, but stated, "We must discover the rational substitutes for these religious notions that for a long time have served as the vehicle for the most essential moral ideas."[85]
Rebecca Goldstein United States Novelist and professor of philosophy; born into an Orthodox Jewish family; has an older brother who is an Orthodox rabbi; in 2011 she was named AHA's Humanist of the Year,[86] and is an atheist[87]
Carlo Strenger Switzerland Swiss-Israeli psychologist who describes his transition from Orthodox Judaism to secular atheism as the defining experience of his life[88]
Mark Zuckerberg United States Computer programmer and internet entrepreneur; one of five co-founders of the social networking website Facebook; raised Jewish, had his bar mitzvah when he turned 13;[89][90] but has since described himself as an atheist[90][91][92][93]


Name Country Notes
Mao Zedong[94] China Communist revolutionary, politician and socio-political theorist and founding father of the People's Republic of China


  1. ^ [The Films of Ingmar Bergman, by Jesse Kalin, 2003, pg. 193]
  2. ^ "Revue des Deux Mondes – 1867 – tome 71, p.386" (in French). Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  3. ^ E. Hales, "Napoleon and the Pope", (London:1962) pg 114
  4. ^ "Q: What do these MPs have in common? A: They are out and proud atheists". Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Bourne 1986, pp. 29–30; Coltman 2003, pp. 5–6; Castro and Ramonet 2009, pp. 59–60.
  6. ^ [Ana Siljak, Angel of Vengeance, page 58]
  7. ^ Hay, Malcolm (3 November 2006). "Pat Condell: interview". Time Out London. Retrieved 20 August 2010. Condell’s 56. He was born an Irish Catholic but educated in Church of England schools. 
  8. ^ "Jerry DeWitt". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  9. ^ The Times
  10. ^
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ Fischer 1964, p. 9; Service 2000, pp. 50–51, 64.
  13. ^ The Quotable Atheist by Jack Huberman
  14. ^ D.M. Smith 1982, pp. 2–3
  15. ^ Nietzsche, Letter to His Sister (1865). 
  16. ^ Columbia dictionary of modern European literature by Jean Albert Bédé, William Benbow Edgerton, pg 535
  17. ^ The Topeka Capital-Journal.
  18. ^ Gina Salamone. Brad Pitt: 'I'm probably 20 percent atheist and 80 percent agnostic'. Daily News (New York). July 23, 2009 [Retrieved January 19, 2010].
  19. ^ Vladislav Zubok; Constantine Pleshakov. Inside the Kremlin's Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev. pp. 4. ISBN 0674455312. Zubok and Pleshakov further state, "Many would later note, however, that his works were influenced by a distinctly Biblical style" and "his atheism remained rooted in some vague idea of a God of nature."
  20. ^ San Francisco Chronicle
  21. ^ The Seattle Times
  22. ^ Christian Post
  23. ^ Richard West, Tito and the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia, p.211, Carroll & Graff, 1996 ISBN 0-7867-0332-6
    "In one of his talks with Church officials, Tito went so far as to speak of himself 'as a Croat and a Catholic', but this comment was cut out of the press reports on the orders of Kardelj."
  24. ^ Nikolaos A. Stavrou (ed.), Mediterranean Security at the Crossroads: a Reader, p.193, Duke University Press, 1999 ISBN 0-8223-2459-8
  25. ^ Vjekoslav Perica, Balkan Idols: Religion and Nationalism in Yugoslav States, p.103, Oxford University Press US, 2004 ISBN 0-19-517429-1
  26. ^ I am a firm professor of self-belief: John Abraham. The Times of India. September 13, 2011
  27. ^ "10 Indian Celebs Who Are Proclaimed Atheists". Retrieved November 15, 2015. 
  28. ^ "My body is my religion: John Abraham". Test Sharma. CNN-IBN. July 20, 2012. 
  29. ^ Vijayasarathy, R G (2008). "Dasavathaaram is spectacular". Retrieved 13 June 2008. 
  30. ^ Introduction to "We Become Atheists" at Positive Atheism
  31. ^ "". Retrieved February 7, 2014.  External link in |title= (help)
  32. ^ Nandy, Ashis (2003). Time Warps: The Insistent Politics of Silent and Evasive Pasts. Delhi: Orient Longman. p. 71. ISBN 978-81-7824-071-8. OCLC 49616949. 
  33. ^ Kumar, Pramod (1992). Towards Understanding Communalism. Chandigarh: Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development. p. 348. ISBN 978-81-85835-17-4. OCLC 27810012. VD Savarkar was publicly an atheist. Even when he was the Hindu Mahasabha leader he used to publicly announce and advertise lectures on atheism, on why god is not there and why all religions are false. That is why when defining Hindutva, he said, Hindutva is not defined by religion and tried to define it in a non-religious term: Punyabhoomi. 
  34. ^ BBC News
  35. ^ Rajeev Khandelwal and S. Shanthi (10 June 2008). "I AM: Rajeev Khandelwal". Times of India. Retrieved 5 March 2010. 
  36. ^ a b Interview with Rushdie by Gigi Marzullo; Sottovoce, RAIUNO, March 31, 2006.
  37. ^ a b "A New Brand of Nonbelievers". September 17, 2007. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  38. ^ The Angry Arab News Service comments from her blog
  39. ^ Between disparate worlds: On California State University professor As'ad AbuKhalil (1: "...who is also an atheist..." 2: "My Sunni family of my mother taught me how to pray")
  40. ^ John Carlin (August 5, 2005). "Zackie's story: The man who took on Mbeki – and won". The Independent. London. Retrieved August 27, 2007. A homosexual, an atheist, and a militant anti-apartheid campaigner whose political ideas were forged on an intense reading of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky... 
  41. ^ Re-drawing the line – Al Ahram Weekly, August 9, 2000
  42. ^ "Founder of ex-Muslim group threatened". United Press International. February 23, 2007. 
  43. ^ "Eye on England". 15 July 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  44. ^ "Ахундов Мирза-Фатали". Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  45. ^ "Dutch article link: 'Ik geloof niet meer'". Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  46. ^ Europe since 1945: An encyclopedia, Bernard A Cook, Taylor & Francis, 2001, ISBN 0-8153-4057-5, p. 31
  47. ^ Kareem Amer. (2006). “تنويه هام جدا بخصوص موقع الأقباط متحدون ومقالى الأخير” (A Very Important Notice Regarding the Copts United Web Site and My Last Article) كريم عامر (Kareeem Amer’s Arabic blog). Retrieved January 28, 2007.
  48. ^ Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman (Kareem Amer), Political prisoner Submitted on Mon, 2007-01-29
  49. ^ "Dr. Humayun Azad laid to rest". Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  50. ^ Bangladesh: Protecting the Human Rights of Thought, Conscience, and Religion: U.A.B. Razia Akter Banu Prepared Testimony – ("Dr. Azad is a Muslim by birth and by name ... He is an atheist.")
  51. ^ Kranenberg, Annieke (August 11, 2007). "'Als dit niet werkt, beledig ik Wilders wel'" (in Dutch). De Volkskrant. Retrieved May 9, 2008.  Quote: (Translation) "In interviews he calls himself an atheist, but until now 'I have been left alone by the beardmonkeys (referring to Muslim fundamentalists). Perhaps I have to make myself heard just a little bit better, I should be more explicit in my aversion to Islam and religion in general." (Dutch) "In interviews noemt hij zichzelf atheïst, maar tot nog toe 'ben ik ongemoeid gelaten door de baardapen. Misschien moet ik een hardere toon aanslaan en wat explicieter zijn in mijn afkeer van de islam en religies in het algemeen.'"
  52. ^ "Pelin Batu "Kısa Devre" yaptı!". Haber Türk (in Turkish). November 2, 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  53. ^ Pelin Batu - "Bayrak taşır gibi din taşımıyorum, ateistim" (in Turkish)
  54. ^ Humanistische Omroep, Link to video interview with Hafid Bouazza Quote: (Translation) "Believers live behind a fence, and non-believers live in a pasture and they know there are believers out there behind the fence." "It [religion] is a matter of conditioning, of brainwashing." "I know that when I die, it's over with me." (Dutch) "Gelovigen leven achter een hek, en ongelovigen in een weiland, waarin ze weten dat er gelovigen zijn die achter hekken wonen." "Het [religie] is een kwestie van conditionering, van hersenspoeling" "Ik weet dat het moment dat ik ter aarde word besteld, dat het afgelopen is met mij."
  55. ^ Verdonschot, Leon (May 8, 2008). ""Ik kan niet leven zonder roes." Interview met Hafid Baouzza, gepubliceerd in Dif nr.1" (in Dutch). Retrieved May 9, 2008. [dead link] Quote: (Translation) "Look, I'm an atheist. I believe God does not exist, I do not believe in an afterlife. How terrible it may be: Hitler isn't in hell getting pinched in his ass with a trident. I'm fine with the fact there are people who do believe that and get comfort from it, like my mother. I just hope the influence of religion on policy makers will diminish, because my freedom is precious to me." (Dutch) "Kijk, ik ben atheïst. Ik geloof niet dat God bestaat, ik geloof niet dat er een hiernamaals is. Hoe gruwelijk ook: Hitler wordt op dit moment niet in de hel met een drietand in zijn reet geprikt. Dat er mensen zijn dat dat wél geloven en daar troost uit putten, mensen als mijn moeder: prima. Als de invloed van religies op beleidsmakers maar steeds kleiner wordt, want mijn vrijheid is me dierbaar."
  56. ^ Darabi, Parvin Rage Against the Veil: The Courageous Life and Death of an Islamic Dissident ISBN 1-57392-682-5
  57. ^ "Turan Dursun Website". Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  58. ^ Craig Whitlock (November 11, 2005). "For Public Figures in Netherlands, Terror Becomes a Personal Concern". The Washington Post. 
  59. ^ Kamm, Henry (1993, June 10). 'Hallelujah' is heard in the arch-atheist's temple. The New York Times (Late Edition (East Coast)), p. A4. Retrieved August 27, 2007, from National Newspaper Abstracts
  60. ^ Muslim Identity and the Balkan State,Hugh Poulton, Suha Taji-Farouki, 1997, ISBN 1-85065-276-7, google print p. 133.
  61. ^ "Sarmad, the mystic poet". Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  62. ^ "Hazrat Sarmad Shaheed: The Naked Sufi Martyr". July 23, 2005. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  63. ^ Freethought Traditions in the Islamic World by Fred Whitehead
  64. ^ interview with Lounès Matoub Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  65. ^ "Pakistan: Appeasing the Mullahs". September 13, 2006. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  66. ^ The Communalisation of Kargil Archived December 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  67. ^ "It's time to take a stand against Islam and Sharia". January 27, 2012. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  68. ^ Wolinsky, David. "Kumail Nanjiani | Comedy | Interview | The A.V. Club Chicago". Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  69. ^ "I was born in a Muslim family, but I became an atheist." For freedom of expression, Taslima Nasreen, November 12, 1999 – Taslima Nasreen took the floor during Commission V of UNESCO's General Conference, as a delegate of the NGO International Humanist and Ethical Union (Accessed December 23, 2006).
  70. ^ "Aziz Nesin of Turkey Dies at 80; Writer Escaped Militants' Arson". New York Times. July 7, 1995. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  71. ^ Obama, Barack (October 16, 2006). "My Spiritual Journey". TIME. Retrieved September 26, 2008. My father was almost entirely absent from my childhood, having been divorced from my mother when I was 2 years old; in any event, although my father had been raised a Muslim, by the time he met my mother he was a confirmed atheist, thinking religion to be so much superstition. 
  72. ^ On Ibn al-Rawandi, from the Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1971, Volume 3, E J Brill, Leiden, p 905
  73. ^ Lyall, Sarah (January 12, 2007). "Swedish politician's advice to immigrants? Try to fit in – Europe – International Herald Tribune". The New York Times. 
  74. ^ Ninety and spunky Archived December 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  75. ^ The Rushdie Affair: The Novel, the Ayatollah, and the West by Daniel Pipes, Pg. 283
  76. ^ Younus Shaikh- short biography
  77. ^ "Ex-Muslim's site trashes Muhammad – Founder challenges: Prove me wrong and I'll take down page". WorldNetDaily. 16 Sep 2004. Retrieved September 18, 2007. 
  78. ^ "Comoros & Mayotte". Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  79. ^ Time Magazine- Interview with Wafa Sultan
  80. ^ There is No Clash of Civilizations but a Clash between the Mentality of the Middle Ages and That of the 21st century Feb. 2006
  81. ^ "Six Degrees of Barack Obama". Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  82. ^ "Warraq, 60, describes himself now as an agnostic..." Dissident voices, World Magazine, June 16, 2007, Vol. 22, No. 22.
  83. ^ The Jewish Chronicle 6 July 2005 "Not only connections"
  84. ^ Durkheim The Person from Masters of Sociological Thought
  85. ^ Émile Durkheim page at Rogers State University
  86. ^ AHA site
  87. ^ Proud Atheists from Salon
  88. ^ Carlo Strenger (2002) From Yeshiva to Critical Pluralism, Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 22: 534-558.
  89. ^ Burrell, Ian (July 24, 2010). "Mark Zuckerberg: He's got the whole world on his site". The Independent. UK. Retrieved November 6, 2010. 
  90. ^ a b Boggan, Steve (May 21, 2010). "The Billionaire Facebook Founder making a fortune from your secrets (though you probably don't know he's doing it)". Daily Mail. UK. Retrieved August 30, 2010. 
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  92. ^ Kirkpatrick, David (2010). The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World. New York City: Simon & Schuster. pp. 20–21. ISBN 978-1-4391-0211-4. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
  93. ^ Alef, Daniel. Mark Zuckerberg: The Face Behind Facebook and Social Networking, Titans of Fortune Publishing (2010)
  94. ^ Schram 1966, p. 20; Terrill 1980, p. 11; Pantsov & Levine 2012, pp. 14, 17.