Popular fascination with new and alternative religious movements has led to a recent surge of memoirs, films, and television series about those who have been involved with and then exited these communities. A subset of this genre is concerned with those who were born and raised in these groups as opposed to having joined as adults. Some of these have gone on to be run-away bestsellers (e.g. Carolyn Jessop’s Escape) or hit television series (e.g. Unorthodox). Two such recent offerings include Megan Phelps-Roper’s Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church and Amber Scorah’s Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life.

Religious exit is often portrayed as the result of an intellectual quest, with the individual becoming more intelligent and moral as a result of embracing some form of secularism. In both the popular imagination and in the scholarly literature on deconversion...

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