Belief in a religion is a fundamental human right, and with it is the right not to believe. Unfortunately, this is not afforded to everyone and for some people leaving their faith can be a complicated, challenging, and even dangerous process. Those who leave religion - sometimes known as apostates - can bring shame and dishonour to their family, and as a result, people who turn their back on faith can experience emotional and physical abuse. Many are shunned and sometimes entirely disowned by their families and communities.
Join Faith to Faithless and The University of Bristol Free Speech Society for a panel discussion and hear from apostates who have left different religions, suffered the consequences and have since rebuilt their lives. Also, learn from experts who work with victims of apostasy crime and honour-based abuse.
Faith to Faithless is a volunteer-led organisation that supports people who have left religion, including ex-Evangelical Christians, ex-Ultra-Orthodox Jews, ex-Muslims, ex-Jehovah's Witnesses, and others. It is a programme within Humanists UK, the national charity for the non-religious that has worked to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail since 1896.
Izzy Posen, ex-ultra-orthodox Jewish
Despite being raised in Hackney, London Izzy's upbringing was isolated, speaking a different language, attending illegal faith schools and not having access to any media or the internet.
Izzy lost his faith at the age of 20 and started catching up on years of missed secular education. Today he is a student of Physics and Philosophy at the University of Bristol and heads the university's Free Speech Society.
Fay Rahman, ex-Muslim
Born in Bangladesh and raised by a conservative Sunni Muslim family in London Fay is the eldest of five siblings. She studied at an Islamic school where she became deeply religious. Fay began to question her faith and in 2017 denounced Islam, she was disowned by her family.
Audrey Simmons, ex-Christian
Raised as a Seven Day Adventist, Audrey went to a Church of England School and by her early twenties had disengaged from religion. Audrey went on to become an organiser of the ‘London Black Atheists’, a support group for (though not exclusively) the African and Caribbean community who have left or are thinking of leaving religion.
Ste Richardsson, ex-Jehovah's Witness (vice-chair, Faith to Faithless)
Ste follows a long line of devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, his father and grandfather were elders, as was his great grandfather who helped spread the faith in Jamaica in the late nineteenth century. After leaving the religion in 2007 Ste was shunned and disowned by his family. For a time he was homeless.
Event Chair: Will Bose, Humanists UK / Faith to Faithless
Will has spent four years advising and working with British and international charities that support victims of apostasy crime, child and forced marriage, FGM and honour-based abuse. He has spoken extensively about the harmful consequences of cultural and religious practices in Britain addressing government organisations including the Home Office, the Foreign Office, The Forced Marriage Unit, Ofsted and New Scotland Yard.
Following the discussion, snacks and hot drinks will be provided and there will be an opportunity for audience Q&A with the panellists. We hope you'll join us for what promises to be an informative, interesting and thought-provoking event.
Thanks to The University of Bristol Free Speech Society and Humanists UK supporters this will be free to attend.
Wills Memorial Building
Bristol, BS8 1RJ