Faith to Faithless, a community support network for ‘apostates’ and the ex-religious founded by Aliyah Saleem and Imtiaz Shams in 2015, is now a part of the British Humanist Association (BHA), the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people in the United Kingdom.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘A brief look at the statistics — which show that two thirds of younger people in Britain are non-religious — can create the misleading impression that this new majority faces little hardship because of what they believe or don’t believe.
‘But look a little further, and you’ll find many non-religious people are discriminated against. Many who are treated this way are overlooked “minorities within minorities” who face rejection, victimisation, and abuse when they leave behind the religion they were raised in. As the national charity supporting the non-religious to live free and full lives, we are happy to take on the challenge of supporting ex-religious people either in crisis or in search of community. I’m delighted that we’ll soon be ready to offer that support much more widely through Faith to Faithless.’
Founded by Aliyah Saleem and Imtiaz Shams in 2015, Faith to Faithless has already helped hundreds of people raised in religious backgrounds find peer support and community at difficult times in their lives. In partnership with the BHA and its student section, Atheist, Humanist, and Secular Students, it has put on events across the country highlighting the haunting experiences of ex-Muslims, ex-Mormons, ex-Plymouth Brethren, and various others who have suffered after leaving their religion behind.
Faith to Faithless’s most recent event was held last Tuesday at Kings College London, and brought together a wide audience to hear from ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses about the difficulties they face.
The BHA intends to develop Faith to Faithless to be a full service supporting ex-religious people in times of need across the UK. ‘Aliyah and Imtiaz have built something remarkable, and we’re now in a position where we can begin to fundraise for and develop what Faith to Faithless offers to ex-religious people,’ said Teddy Prout, the BHA’s Director of Community Services.
‘We will be building on Aliyah and Imtiaz’s peer support networks to develop a robust, trained, and accredited volunteer force for Faith to Faithless, much like the volunteer force which supports our pastoral care work in hospitals and prisons, or our school speaker scheme. Further down the line, we have ambitions to develop a hotline and other direct support services, as well as measures to ensure that schools, social services, local authorities, and charities for vulnerable people, are all properly trained to offer appropriate support to “apostates”.’
‘It’s important for me,’ says co-founder Aliyah Saleem, ‘that people in the position that I was in don’t have to feel alone. If you feel scared, we want to be there to support you. If you feel alone, we want to remind you that you’re not. And if you feel strong, we’d like to invite you to join us in raising awareness of minorities within minorities and the challenges we face.’
For further information or media inquiries, please contact BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy Pavan Dhaliwal on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.
Aliyah Saleem and Imtiaz Shams co-founded Faith to Faithless in 2015. Since then, Aliyah Saleem has joined the national board of the BHA’s student section, the AHS (Atheist, Humanist, and Secular Students), and been active with Faith Schoolers Anonymous. Imtiaz Shams was elected as a BHA trustee by members of the BHA at its 2016 AGM.