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.
Hari Parekh is an apostate of Hinduism.
Raised in Britain, he graduated with a first-class honours degree in Psychology and Criminology and has further graduated with a Merit in MSc in Forensic and Criminological Psychology at the University of Nottingham. He wrote his MSc thesis on the abuse of apostates within religious households in the UK.
Hari has worked as an Assistant Psychologist and as a Programme Psychologist for a children's home for boys. Hari has volunteered extensively for Humanists UK and is a regular speaker for Faith to Faithless.
Terri O'Sullivan, ex-Jehovah's Witness. Terri joined the Jehovah's Witnesses with her mother when she was 7 years old. At 21, she found the lifestyle too controlling and began missing meetings. Shortly after, her mother told her to leave home. Terri was homeless for a year.
In 2007 Terri founded 'XJW Friends’ to provide support for shunned former Jehovah's Witnesses through regular social events. She went on to conduct research at Tilburg University (The Netherlands) into the relationship between social ostracism and religious fundamentalism while studying for her masters.
Terri is on the Leadership Team of Faith to Faithless.
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.
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