An Apologetics Index research resource
A falling away or departure from a previously maintained orthodox position (as in certain denominations which once held to orthodoxy but have rejected it). Adj.: "apostate."
Definition from: "A Biblical Guide To Orthodoxy And Heresy Part One: The Case For Doctrinal Discernment" (an article from the Christian Research Journal, Summer 1990, page 28) by Robert M. Bowman.
Also: renunciation of a previously held religious faith, or abandonment of a previous loyalty (e.g. a cult member who defects).
In Islam, apostasy is considered a crime punishable by death.
In some destructive cults, such as Jehovah's Witnesses or Scientology, apostasy leads to shunning.
Scientology's so-called 'disconnection' policy is one of the cult's most destructive practices.
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