Recovering from Religion

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Recovering from Religion
FounderDarrel Ray
Legal status501(c)3 organization[1]
Key people
Darrel Ray (Founder)[2]
Gayle Jordan (Executive Director)
Shanon Nebo (Treasurer)
Susi Bocks (Board Secretary)
RJ Redden
Nathan Phelps (Emeritus Board Member)[3][4]

Recovering from Religion (RfR) is an international non-profit organisation, that helps people who have left or are in the process of leaving religion[6] to deal with any impacts of leaving their faith by offering support groups, a telephone helpline and an online community for "people in their most urgent time of need",[7] as well as offering a range of online tools and practical resources.[8] It is headquartered in the heart of Kansas City, Kansas.


RfR was founded in 2009 by Kansas-based atheist activist and psychologist Darrel Ray.[2] RfR includes former Westboro Baptist Church member Nathan Phelps among its board of directors as an Emeritus Board Member.[9] In December 2011 Recovering From Religion appointed Clergy Project member and former pastor Jerry DeWitt as its executive director.[10] Sarah Morehead, once an evangelical Southern Baptist, was appointed its Deputy Executive Director at the same time. DeWitt resigned in 2012 to pursue personal projects. Sarah Morehead was appointed Executive Director on January 1, 2013 and remained until October 25, 2015.[11] Gayle Jordan was appointed Executive Director on January 7, 2016.[12]

In 2012, Recovering from Religion included over 100 local chapters scattered across the United States, each one meeting monthly, typically with 10 to 12 participants.[2] By 2013 RfR announced fundraising for its Hotline Project, a toll free phone number featuring trained support agents, which was funded in a matter of weeks, as well as The Secular Therapist Project. In 2014 RR offered online classes dubbed "Recovering Your Sexuality"[13] for individuals working through the negative impact of religion on their sexual development and identity.

1-844-I Doubt It[edit]

RfR launched The Hotline Project on the 27th of February 2015 with former pastor Teresa MacBain serving as the director.[14] According to MacBain, the hotline is a peer-support call center for people struggling with issues of faith, doubt, and nonbelief. The call agents are trained to offer support and resources without influencing the caller toward or away from any religious belief or lack of belief. "The greatest gift we offer those who call is compassion without judgement. Each person must walk their own path, we just want to be a 'shoulder to lean on' when needed." remarked Ms. MacBain in a speech given at the Gateway to Reason Conference.[15] This service will be a free 24/7 service run by volunteers.[16] The Hotline Project was developed in response to the large volume of calls and e-mails that RfR receives daily from people who are seeking help and support in their time of doubt, and want to leave religion, but do not know who to turn to or what to do next.[17] The aim of the service provided by this hotline is not to lead callers away from religion, but to provide advice and support for those who struggle with their doubts. In an interview with The Christian Post, Sarah Morehead said: "It's not our place to do anything but encourage exploration and discovery, and to provide a solid support structure as people reconsider the role of religion in their lives".[7] Christian apologist William Lane Craig criticised the hotline, suggesting it should be disconnected as it is the wrong number to call. According to him "this atheist hotline will offer nothing."[18] It was updated in June 2017 offering more stream-lined technology and changed to the Helpline Project offering not only a call line and chatline but also an online community.

The Secular Therapy Project[edit]

Dr. Darrel Ray, as part of RfR, has launched The Secular Therapist Project. It is a website that is dedicated to connecting secular therapists with people, seeking help, who do not hold any religious beliefs. The website was launched in April 2012.[19] Just over a year after the launch, in August 2013, the project had reached a key milestone - 2000 registered clients.[20] After publishing his books The God Virus and Sex and God, Dr Ray received numerous requests from people asking for help in finding secular therapists. In his interview to Psychology Today magazine, Dr Ray stated that there is a real problem in America with more and more therapists graduating from the religious programs, who incorporate religion into their therapy sessions: "While no one can really know how much religion influences a given counselor, we can say that hundreds of religious schools have developed counselling programs in the past twenty years, many in the marriage and family counselling area. It is hard to say, but there could be more licensed counselors graduating from religious schools than are graduating from secular programs right now. In any event, there are thousands of counselors who think Jesus or other supernatural approaches are the answer".[21] The project updated its name to The Secular Therapy Project and the website was completely updated in 2017.

Ex-Communications – the RfR blog[edit]

The Ex-Communications blog was created in 2014 to offer support and insight for those people who are either in the process of leaving religion, closeted atheists, or dealing with religious doubts. The blog is written by people who have left faith and who can offer their perspective and support for those who are in doubt or are on their journey out of faith. Nathan Phelps, son of Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, is one of the blog's regular contributors. Other writers include Justin Vollmar, an ex-pastor, who have left their faith and become outspoken atheists activists. "Ex-Communications is for everyone who feels they have been negatively impacted by religion, or knows someone who has. We want to start conversations with the questioning but still religious believer, the closeted nonbeliever desperate to know they are not alone in their doubts and growing secularism, and even the life-long nonbeliever looking to understand and support their friends or family as they struggle with the fallout from faith. The writers on this blog come from all walks of life, and all versions of religious belief systems".[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Donate". RR website. Recovering from Religion. Archived from the original on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Robert F. Worth (22 August 2012). "From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  3. ^ Kimberly Winston (17 December 2012). "Phelps' son condemns plan to picket Newtown funerals". The Washington Post. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  4. ^ Kimberly Winston (21 March 2014). "Atheist Nate Phelps on his father: I mourn 'the man he could have been'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  5. ^ "RR Groups". RR website. Recovering from Religion. Archived from the original on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  6. ^ Lori Aratani (24 March 2012). "'Godless' rally for recognition". The Washington Post. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b Michael Gryboski (4 June 2013). "Atheist Group Seeks Funding for Hotline for Those Leaving Religion". The Christian Post. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  8. ^ Greta Christina (25 June 2013). "7 groups atheists can turn to in times of need". Salon. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Board of Directors". Recovering from Religion. Retrieved 2018-07-21.
  10. ^ Kimberly Winston (30 April 2012). "Pastor's loss of faith started with loss of hell". USA Today. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Recovering From Religion Bids Executive Director Farewell". October 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-02-28.
  12. ^ "RfR Hires New Executive Director". Recovering from Religion. Retrieved 2016-02-28.
  13. ^ "Recovering Your Sexuality". Archived from the original on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Leaving your religion? Now, there's a hotline to help". Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  15. ^ Ryan, Andrew (6 June 2013). "Atheists plan hotline for doubters who lose faith. Wait, what?". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  16. ^ Dan Merica (4 June 2013). "Atheists to start 1-800 hotline for doubters". CNN Religion Blog. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Atheist Hotline Will Offer Answers To Those Questioning Religion". 5 June 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  18. ^ Anugrah Kumar (18 June 2013). "Christian Philosopher William Lane Craig Calls Atheist Hotline a 'Wrong Number'". The Christian Post. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  19. ^ Darrel Ray. "About the Recovering From Religion Secular Therapist Project". Secular Therapy. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  20. ^ Caleb Lack (16 August 2013). "Secular Therapist Project reaches milestone, needs more therapists". SkepticInk. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  21. ^ David Niose (12 November 2012). "Has Your Therapist Tried to 'Save' You?". Psychology Today. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  22. ^ "Welcome to Ex-Communications!". Patheos. 12 November 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2015.

External links[edit]