The principal purpose of the Ex-Religious Support Network (ESN) is to provide an avenue for people who have left or are considering leaving their religion to develop friendships and tap into resources that will help them on their journey through a life without religion. We recognize that you may be experiencing anxiety from being separated from friends, colleagues and family. Deep questions may also arise for you about what you are to believe and trust in now that you have lost your religious scaffolding. You may also come to question the meaning and purpose of life. Our network offers an opportunity for you to share the challenges and triumphs of your journey towards unbelief. In this safe environment, you can learn and support others experiencing the same challenges as yourself.
We meet regularly in Melbourne and online. There, you can touch base with other travelers on the same journey, explore alternative ways of living and listen to speakers on living life from a non-religious perspective. From time to time, the group meets more informally for fun times in a park or cafe or to take in a movie or play.
Membership is open to all who are seeking meaning and purpose in a world without God and supernatural forces. There is no membership fee and membership is open to people from all locations. There exist two types of membership groups; one local and the other international.
The local Ex-Religious Support Network is a private Meetup group servicing the needs of the ex-religious in Melbourne, Australia. This Meetup group focuses specifically on face-to-face and online meetings and social activities. For many people, leaving their religion is a difficult and sensitive time. For this reason, this Meetup is a private group. For member security and confidentiality, membership status and group conversations are not displayed publicly.
The second, international group is named the Ex-Religious Discussion Group and is a public Facebook group. The aim of this discussion group is to provide a wider forum for people who have left their religion or are leaving their religion. In this broader forum, members can discuss openly with other apostates around the world their experiences, challenges and opportunities for finding meaning and purpose in a godless world. Unlike the Meetup group, conversations in this group are visible to the world.
We meet in Melbourne and online regularly, with a mix of talks and discussions and casual social events. Recent talks included ‘Religious Trauma: Making Sense of Existence’ and ‘Ask Me Any Question: Humanist’. Our talks are casual affairs, with many run in an engaging Q&A format. Questions and discussion are always actively encouraged.
Every so often, we like to let our hair down with a casual social get-together. We’ve enjoyed sharing a meal and drink in a cafe by the lake and in the botanical gardens, and went to see an engaging movie.
To ensure the effective functioning of the Melbourne Meetup group, we expect members to reflect the following behaviours:
- I will listen attentively and without interrupting
- I will speak respectfully, without resort to abuse or denigration
- I will support my fellow travelers in their personal journey
- I will participate openly in discussions as best I can
- I will say what I need from others in the group
- I will maintain the confidentiality of members
- I will be punctual at meetings I attend
To join the Ex-Religious Support Network Meetup group, visit the ESN Meetup page at www.meetup.com/Ex-Religious-Support-Network/ and click on the ‘Request to join’ button.
To join the Facebook Ex-Religious Discussion Group, visit their Facebook Group page at www.facebook.com/groups/ExReligiousDiscussion/ and click on the ‘Join Group’ button.
ESN Project (Project origins, purpose and activities)
ESN information pamphlet
ESN ‘Secular Communities’ pamphlet
ESN ‘Resources’ pamphlet
The Hidden Toll of Religious Trauma (Caroline Winzenried’s presentation to ESN on 30 June 2021)
Reproductive Coercion and Religion (Jacquie O’Brien’s presentation to ESN on 17 March 2019)
Hidden Forces: Shining a Light on Reproductive Coercion (Marie Stopes Australia White Paper)
Hypocrites: Evidence and Statistics on Child Sexual Abuse Amongst Church Clergy, 1990-2000 (Eros Foundation)