You may have heard ex-Christians (or at least ex-Evangelicals) using the word “deconstruction” to describe their exit from faith, or leaving one strict brand of faith.

I don’t think this term is helpful.  It lacks an organic sense of the emotional-rational process a person takes when walking away from their faith.  In fact, even using words like “process” or “walking away” may not be the most accurate.

And that’s really my point.  Each person has the right to use any terms they wish to describe their deeply personal journey away from a belief system or faith community.  It can take years to find the words to explain what happens when an individual makes the critical decision to “walk out the door.”  After many years, I’m still finding new ways of “telling my story.”

To “deconstruct” suggests dismantling or systematically demolishing a faith as if it’s a building, a “constructed” house.  I get it.  I simply don’t think that term, whether originating in theology or secular thought, does good service to the “journey” out.

If you have left faith, or in the process of leaving, what words do you use?

Does “deconstruction” really tell the story?

What do you think?

Categories: FreethinkerTags: , , , , ,


  1. I am in a bit of a rush Chris but the words that come to mind if the discussion is short or with a lay person is “as result of my spiritual journey, I left the church”. I used to say I “deconverted” but this is not probably correct in a dictionary sense. I have never said deconstructed even though it is better than deconverted but it reminds me of all of the Post-modern enthusiasts who picked away at science, and many great books and began to see them as expressions of a cultural relativity and power. So I don’t use it. I need a new phrase which I will think more about. Something more like I “reconstructed what I though of as evidence and the sources of truth” and it is not revelatory or provided by the “holy spirit”. It is intentional consciousness to try and live and think about things as clearly as I can at the moment full well knowing I may change if truth takes a turn and I need to steer into it. Got to go to the gym. Physical reconstruction.

    • I tend toward your wording, Marty. Simply, “I left,” like walking out the door. Whether it took a year or ten, there is an fairly clear exit. Or perhaps, “I left faith behind.” I just look for a more positive spin I suppose. . .hence, freethinker!

  2. Deconversion happened in a moment. Deconstruction happened after the realization I’d been duped my whole life by people who really cared. Skeptic is a bit curmudgeonly because I’m not really skeptical. I typically give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s just believing holds no benefit for me when I know I’ve got this without it.

  3. “Deconstruction” to me sounds like a person is taking their beliefs apart, examining them, and hopes to eventually reconstruct them back into some other form that could still be called “faith”, but one they are more comfortable with. “Spiritual, but not religious” sort of thing. That’s not me at all, so I generally use “deconversion”.

  4. In a way, it does seem like I’ve been deconstructing, taking away one concept after another, bit by bit…. but I agree, an organic process does seem more apropos. You make me think of Holmes’ “The Chambered Nautilus” — there’s the idea of growth — but then we get free of the material world. I’ve been thinking lately how my whole life long, 85 years!, I’ve just kept trying to understand — and your question makes me think tonight that I feel most like Whitman’s “Noiseless Patient Spider” — I just keep sending out this idea, exploring that — maybe “exploring” fits me best…. tho more in community with others than Whitman’s lonely soul….

    “A Noiseless Patient Spider

    “A noiseless patient spider,
    I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
    Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
    It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
    Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

    “And you O my soul where you stand,
    Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
    Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
    Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
    Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.”

    Thanks for more great exploring, Chris!!!!!!!

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