Escaping Religion Special

First-person accounts of people who grew up inside insular religious groups, and then choose a different path. Despite their very different backgrounds, their stories have a lot in common: A conviction that they were keepers of secret knowledge. A set of rules that gave them structure, purpose, and a clear moral compass. And a strong, often suffocating, bond with their family.

Luzer Twersky: From Hasidism to the Secular World
Luzer Twersky spent the first 23 years of his life as a Hasidic Jew. Hasidism is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that emphasizes a mystical, direct experience with the divine. Twersky left his wife and family behind three years ago to see if he could make it in the secular world. Reporter Josh Gleason followed Twersky during much of that first year, and he brings us this audio portrait.

Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church
The Westboro Baptist Church calls itself a “unique picketing ministry,” and that’s certainly one way to think about it. The members are quite purposely outrageous, picketing the funerals of soldiers and even children, holding signs that say things like “Pray for More Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates Fags.” It makes you wonder…what kind of person could picket a funeral like that? And who are these people? For seven years Lauren Drain held those hateful signs and attended services at the Kansas-based church. She has now left and written a book about her experience.

Growing up in a Wiccan Household
Joshua Safran’s mother was a Wiccan, and he grew up in that household. When he became an adult, he left the Wiccan tradition and became an Orthodox Jew.

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