Title: Leaving The Fold: Testimonies Of Former Fundamentalists
Author: edited by Edward T. Babinski
Publisher: Prometheus Books
• Includes a nice introduction about the history and nature of fundamentalist Christianity in America
• Provides insight into fundamentalist Christianity not available elsewhere
• Testimonies from ex-fundamentalists who abandoned Christian fundamentalism
• Includes perspectives from liberal Chrisitians, atheists, agnostics, and non-Christian religious believers
In Leaving The Fold: Testimonies Of Former Fundamentalists editor Edward T. Babinski. collects over 30 testimonials from people who have left behind their fundamentalist roots for something different. Most embraced fundamentalist Christianity voluntarily, rather than simply being indoctrinated into it from childhood, which makes their later rejection of it even more interesting.
Contrary to what some might expect, this isn't a book full of atheists ranting and raving against the evils of Christianity. A significant number of the ex-fundamentalists actually adopted some other form of Christianity that was more moderate; a few adopted another religion entirely, and some adopted some form of atheism, agnosticism, or humanism. The critiques of fundamentalism are thus not unsympathetic to Christianity in general, but none of the contributors are positive towards fundamentalist Christianity.
What Babinski has produced is thus a very comprehensive and wide-ranging critiques of the nature of fundamentalism, the problems with fundamentalism, and why people are better off for abandoning fundamentalism. In addition to being united in their condemnation of fundamentalist Christianity, all of the testimonies offer one of two different reasons for taking a path away from fundamentalism: external influences or problems within the church itself. Whichever of these was the case, in each instance it led to a loss of personal faith which, in turn, caused the person to reconsider their beliefs on a very basic level.
Slowly but surely, bits of doctrine once held with unwavering conviction began to fall away; this in turn made it more difficult to maintain a hold on other pieces of doctrine. Soon the entire structure of fundamentalist dogma crumbled and the believer was left with the question of whether anything similar can (or should) be erected in its place, or if perhaps they would be better off moving beyond religion entirely, whatever form it might take.
Christian fundamentalists who are currently in the process of reconsidering their beliefs will probably be greatly aided by this book because it will help them understand not only what's happening to them, but also to realize that they aren't alone in what they are going through. This is, of course, assuming that they can find the book — Anderson County Public Library in South Carolina, Babinski's home state, reportedly removed the book from the shelves after they received complaints. It would appear that the testimonies in this book may contain more power than the authors originally recognized.
Anyone reconsidering their religion, even more liberal beliefs, might also find material in here that helps. Because the first-hand testimonies here aren't available elsewhere, people interested in the entire process of conversion or deconversion itself may benefit. The fact that material like this isn't more generally available is interesting in and of itself. Babinksi originally tried to get this book published through moderate and liberal Christian publishers, but none were interested — even though the testimonies are ultimately supportive of moderate and liberal religious views, not atheism. It was only Prometheus Books, the leading publisher of atheist, humanist, and skeptical material, which was interested in bringing this information to the public. This doesn't speak well for liberal and moderate Christian institutions in America.