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Courtesy Luzer Twersky
Escaping Religion: Stories of Former Believers, Part I
September 08, 2016
First-person accounts of people who grew up inside insular religious groups. In this episode: escapes from an Orthodox Jewish enclave, a polygamous sect and a Wiccan commune.
Web4CamGuy-Flickr
Luzer Twersky: First Hasidism, Then Hollywood September 08, 2016
When Luzer Twersky was in his early twenties and already a married father of two, he decided to leave the only world he had ever known, a close-knit Hasidic Jewish enclave in Brooklyn. He told his story to documentary producer Josh Gleason in 2010, when he was just beginning his new life in the secular world.

Luzer Twersky, "a pretty good actor, a decent writer, and a mediocre musician"
Courtesy Luzer Twersky
Update: Twersky Today September 08, 2016
Since his 2010 radio story, Twersky's exploits have included a radical makeover, a stint on Amazon's Transparent, a starring role in the 2015 indie film Felix & Meira (playing an Orthodox Jew), and even a modeling gig for the men's designer Duncan Quinn. Here's his full update interview, recorded in August 2016.


BroadwayBooks
Carolyn Jessop: Running from the "God Squad" September 08, 2016
Carolyn Jessop is a sixth-generation descendant of one of the most powerful religious families in Utah. Born into a radical sect called the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints, they follow a self-styled version of the Mormon faith that includes practices now outlawed by the mainstream church, including polygamy.  At age 18, Jessop says she was forced to become the fourth wife of a man 40 years her senior, Merril Jessop. Together they had eight children. In 2003, she fled with all of her children in the middle of the night, outrunning her husband and the local church police, known as "the God Squad." She told her tale to Maureen in 2008.

Since our interview, Jessop has re-married and has written another book about her experience, Triumph: Life After the Cult, a Survivor's Lessons. She still lives in Utah.

Carolyn Jessop, author of Escape
Courtesy Joshua Safran
Joshua Safran: From Wiccan Love Child to Orthodox Jew September 08, 2016
Joshua Safran was born in 1975 into a coven of radical feminist witches. His mother revered a pantheon of goddesses, spirits, and energies, and was determined to keep her son out of the mainstream and off the grid. So he spent his early childhood as a kind of nomad, hitchhiking for thousands of miles, living in buses, vans, even in an ice cream truck. Then one day he discovered he was Jewish, and after years of wandering he finally felt he had found a home. He told his story to Maureen in 2013.

Joshua Safran, author of Free Spirit: Growing up On the Road and Off the Grid


Safran's mother, Claudia.

Courtesy Joshua Safran
Update: Safran today September 08, 2016
These days, Safran is a lawyer and advocate for women's rights. His struggle to free domestic abuse survivor Deborah Peagler from prison was the subject of the 2011 documentary, Crime After Crime, and he joined us on this show to talk about it. We caught up with Safran in August 2016 to ask how his relationship to his mother, Claudia, has evolved in the past few years.