‘Leaving the Fold’

Apostasy from Fundamentalism and the Direction of Religious Development


  • Raoul J. Adam James Cook University




Religious Development, Fundamentalism, Apostasy


This paper re-examines the direction of religious development implicit in Piagetian-based theories in light of a recent study of apostasy from fundamentalism. The theory-led and inductive thematic analysis of apostate narratives reveals evidence of a ‘sociocognitive conflict’ that complicates the implicit teleology of traditional theories of religious development. The diverse trajectories produced by this interaction between sociocultural and cognitive influences prompts a fresh analysis of Howard Gruber’s question concerning the direction of development: Which way is up? I highlight the complex interaction between cultural and cognitive influences involved in apostasy from fundamentalism and provide support for Streib’s Religious Styles Perspective as a theory for investigating multiple factors influencing the conceptualisation and direction of religious development.

Author Biography

  • Raoul J. Adam, James Cook University

    Raoul Adam lectures in educational psychology at the School of Education, James Cook University. His primary research interests are in epistemological development and the psychology of religion.


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How to Cite

Adam, R. J. (2009). ‘Leaving the Fold’: Apostasy from Fundamentalism and the Direction of Religious Development. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 22(1), 42-63. https://doi.org/10.1558/arsr.v22i1.42