Struggling to leave your religion?

Join us for a powerful weekend with others who can understand and support you.

“RELEASE AND RECLAIM” Recovery Retreat
May 1-3, 2009; Oakham, Massachusetts (near Worcester)
Friday at 7pm until Sunday at 3pm,
at a beautiful lakeside home on six acres with hot tub, canoes, and more.

This program is for you if you want to let go of toxic, authoritarian beliefs and reclaim your ability to trust your own feelings and think for yourself.

Leaving your faith can be a very difficult process, but you don’t have to go it alone.
At a Release and Reclaim Recovery Retreat participants can:

• Share personal stories
• Examine key issues
• Learn coping strategies
• Meet others and build a support system
• Enjoy meals, relaxation,and fun

These retreats are led by Marlene Winell, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion. Dr. Winell has a private practice in Berkeley, CA and also consults by telephone.

COST: Sliding scale: $220 - $320 for workshop, $125 for room and board (all meals included). Other financial help available.

TO REGISTER: Write to (subject line “retreat registration”) or call Dr. Winell directly at 510.292.0509. Retreat space is limited so contact us as soon as possible.

WANT TO TALK? If you are unsure if this is for you, please feel welcome to call and chat. Just call Marlene at 510-292-0509. You can also talk with someone who has been to a retreat (we have had six so far).

FOR MORE INFORMATION, testimonials, and videos, please visit

MORE RETREATS in Denver : June 5-7 & June 12-14


J.L. Hinman said...

don't' do it!;-)

Joe Staub said...

"Struggling to Leave Your Religion?"

I think if someone "wants" to leave then they should. However, the key is, you have to "want" to. Whether a religion is rational or not it can fulfill a need that we all innately possess.

Also, as you would agree J.L., not all religions are authoritarian and oppressive. I value religious practice that encourages independent thought within a framework. It seems to work for me, but it wasn't always that way. I went through a period of "cleansing" where I needed to let go of what other thought of me and my beliefs. I was giving myself over to the collective authority of my denomination and fellow pastors because I did not want to displease anyone.

Joe Staub said...

"Also, as you would agree J.L., not all religions are authoritarian and oppressive."

I meant to direct this to Marlene.

Marlene Winell said...

Hello Joe,
These programs are designed to help people who want to leave and are finding it difficult because of the fear-based indoctrination and because they are not sure they have alternatives. I am not sure about "a need we all innately possess" but there are aspects of belonging to a religious group that are certainly compelling, such as having a community (I have a section about this in my book, "Leaving the Fold"). Leaving the cocoon of a rigid form of religion means you have to find other ways to meet basic needs and it is very heartening to find out that you can. Having group support helps a lot, and that is why people who attend these retreats will say that it was a turning point in their healing.

If you have found a community and a framework in which you can exercise your freedom of thought and have your feelings respected, that is excellent! I would never try to talk you out of it - just make sure you always take responsibility for your own spirituality. It sounds like you have done a good job shedding your need for others' approval and I respect that.

Thank-you for commenting.

Joe Staub said...

Marlene, I agree with you. I actually think that I became an authoritarian pastor when I was in the ministry (I left the ministry 8 years ago). Not to relinquish my responsibility, but my denominational belief system put me in a position of being a bit oppressive and authoritarian. I am glad to be gone, because it wasn't me. Year before I left, I even confided in my fellow Elders that I could no longer do this (being a sort of spiritual gate keeper). To make a long story short, through some trial and error I have come to a place of free thought within the basic framework of Christianity. Many churches only require a simple profession of faith in Jesus and then leave the rest open to debate. I like that.

Now, regarding "innate need for spirituality". I think Dawkins in his book, "The God Delusion" even admits that humans just seem to have this universal penchant for belief in a higher being, or what ever. In that sense, I don't think it matters if one is taught a religion or not, he will make one up eventually, or find one already in practice. Not all, of course, but most people.


Valerie Tarico said...

I attended one of Marlene's Workshops in the Bay Area, and i found the structured group process to be quite powerful. Many people were for the first time sharing their struggles with people who had been there. We focused on topics ranging from old trauma triggers (an excerpt from the movie,Thief in the Night)that several had seen during childhood--to how to use our own sense of humor in the service of healthy adult balance. These workshops are unique in the country. I recommend them.