Who is Darrel Ray?

Born August 24, 1950, Darrel Wayne Ray is a psychologist, author, speaker and activist for atheism. Ray founded Recovering from Religion in 2009, a self-help organization developed to help individuals leaving religious indoctrination.

Ray was raised in Wichita, Kansas by missionary parents. There, he was a child in the fundamentalist Christian faith, later joining the Quaker church at the age of 29 and transitioning to Presbyterian not long thereafter. By the mid-1980s, Ray started identifying as an atheist. He later started living within polyamorous relationships and is a father and grandfather.

In 1972, he graduated from Friends University in Wichita. That Bachelors of Science in Sociology and Anthropology was followed by a masters degree from Scarritt College for Christian Workers in 1974, with a focus on church and community. His psychology Doctor of Education was earned in 1978 at Peabody college of Vanderbilt University.

In his work life, Ray has focused heavily on organizational culture and clinical psychology. He has co-authored two books about team building, founded a corporate coaching program called Teaming Up and served as the director of The Institute for Performance Culture.

Ray’s two books about religion and secularism examine control of human thoughts and behaviors, particularly sexuality, through religion. Those two books, The God Virus: How Religion Affects Our Lives and Culture and Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality use cultural and historical perspectives to explore the subject matter. He also has a podcast about atheism and sexuality called Secular Sexuality, which he has hosted since August 2014.

As part of his organization Recovering from Religion, Ray serves as a board director and works to help people through science and secular-based therapies. That is the focus of the group’s program entitled The Secular Therapy Project.

Darrel Ray is sometimes interviewed as an expert in secular psychology on television news programs. This is the case for the ABC news program Nightline, where Ray vocalized opinion against exorcisms and provided scientific expertise and personal views about mental illnesses sometimes appearing like possession.

As a researcher, Ray has worked with other experts and authors on various projects exploring human behavior and sexuality. In 1982, he worked on a study of male juvenile offenders in the criminal justice system. That study focused on the effects of population density on the subjects.

Another study of May 2011 explored changes in sexuality as related to departure from secular religion. Over 14,500 subjects completed surveys and provided details toward study conclusions. That work, entitled Sex and Secularism: What Happens When You Leave Religion?, indicated that sexuality is not vastly different in behavioral style after departure from religious following. But the study did reflect that less guilt was experienced after subjects became non-religious and sex improved in the absence of structured religion. This study was widely criticized for its recruitment of biased participants from a pool of readers of one science-based blog.