Linked with Eugen Drewermann – Germany.

Apostasy (from Greek αποστασία, meaning a defection or revolt , from απο, apo, “away, apart”, στασις, stasis, “standing”) is a term generally employed to describe the formal renunciation of one’s religion, especially if the motive is deemed unworthy. In a technical sense, as used sometimes by sociologists without the sometimes pejorative connotations of the word, the term refers to renunciation and criticism of, or opposition to one’s former religion. One who commits apostasy is an apostate, or one who apostatises. In older Western literature, the term typically referred to baptized Christians who left their faith. Apostasy is generally not a self-definition: very few former believers call themselves apostates and they generally consider this term to be a pejorative. One of the possible reasons for this renunciation is loss of faith, another is the alleged failure of religious indoctrination and/or brainwashing.

Many religious movements consider it a vice (sin), a corruption of the virtue of piety in the sense that when piety fails, apostasy is the result. However, most converts to a new religion can also be considered apostates from a previous belief. Several religious groups and even some states punish apostates. Apostates may be shunned by the members of their former religious group[1] or worse. This may be the official policy of the religious group or may happen spontaneously, due in some sense to psycho-social factors as well. Catholicism may respond to apostasy by excommunicating the apostate while Islam demands the death penalty, such as in Saudi Arabia.

Conversely, some atheists and agnostics use the term “deconversion” to describe loss of faith in a religion. Self-described “Freethinkers” and those who may view traditional religion negatively may see it as gaining rationality and respect for the scientific method. The reliability of the testimonies of apostates is an important and controversial issue in the study of apostasy in cults and new religious movements.

The difference between apostasy and heresy is that the latter refers to rejection or corruption of certain doctrines, not to the complete abandonment of one’s religion. Heretics claim to still be following a religion (or to be the “true followers”), whereas apostates reject it. The term is also used to refer to renunciation of belief in a cause other than religion, particularly in politics. Other terms to describe leaving a faith and the associated process are treated in religious disaffiliation.

See also: Sociological definitions, Apostasy in Christianity, in Islam, in Judaism, in alleged cults and new religious movements (NRMs). See further: Opinions about the reliability of apostates’ testimony and their motivations.
There is no concept of an apostate in Hinduism or Buddhism as there is no concept of conversion. Converts to other religions from Hinduism or Buddhism are accepted in these communities, as there is no Hindu or Buddhist procedure that defines apostasy. However, fear of forced conversions is high in mostly Hindu India and has prompted legal restrictions on forced conversions in certain states. See also the debate and opinions about the reliability of apostates’ testimony and their motivations. (Read more on wikipedia).

As in these days we speak more on Islam, here a text: ‘Apostasy in Islam‘: Rejecting Islam, there are many ways in which a person can be regarded as having rejected Islam:

  • They may make an explicit declaration, such as, “I associate other gods alongside Allah” (usherek billah).
  • They may make a claim that results in blasphemy, such as, “Allah has a material substance or a shape just like other substances or shapes” (kufr).
  • They may make “an action that clearly resembles blasphemy, such as carelessly discarding a Qur’an, or parts of it…”
  • They might burn the Qur’an out of contempt.
  • They might soil the Qur’an, “(such as putting it in a holy place that has become dirty, or staining it with an unclean substance, such as turning its pages with fingers that have been licked).”
  • A Muslim becomes an apostate if he or she “enters a church, worships an idol, or learns and practices magic…”
  • They might state that the universe has always existed from eternity.
  • They might believe that transmigration of souls or reincarnation happens at death.
  • “…a Muslim becomes an apostate if he defames a prophet’s character, morals, virtues, or religion, if he accuses angels of having bad qualities, or if he questions the efficacy of a prophet’s asceticism.”

Traditional treatment of apostates according to Shari’a law: Islam teaches that a newborn has an innate ability to know and believe in his creator, and to understand good and evil. Muhammad (pbuh) stated: “Every child is born with the believing nature…it is his parents who make him into a Jew or a Christian.” There is to be no force used to convert a non-believer to Islam. The Qur’ãn, quoted above, prohibits the use of compulsion to force a person or a society to accept Islam. However, once a person freely “enters into the fold of Islam, the rules change.” The word “Islam” means “submission to the will of God.” The Qur’ãn says that: “No believing man and no believing woman has a choice in their own affairs when Allãh and His Messenger have decided on an issue.” (33:36) On the issue of apostasy, “Islam clearly says: No! You cannot become an apostate.” Apostasy is viewed as a form of treason.


Apostacy on heaven.net; on the Columbia free Dictionary; on jack/zen; on the cutting edge.org; on deception in the church; on apostasie.org. (Put apostasie as keyword into Google and you have a plethora of webs).

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