Holy Runaways

Rediscovering Faith After Being Burned by Religion

Holy Runaways

Rediscovering Faith After Being Burned by Religion

  • In stock
  • Quantity discount
    • For bulk discounting, please call Sales and Service at 877-373-0706 and ask about our Corporate Sales Program.

Holy Runaways speaks to people who are feeling ignored, oppressed, or rejected by their religious community and church, offering a path forward built on speaking truth, deep listening, and acting with compassion.

In the past decade, church attendance among US adults has decreased by more than 25 percent. Americans report leaving religious communities because of the institutions' hypocrisy and resistance to change or because of trauma they have experienced in those spaces. Instead of safe havens for people of faith, many churches have become sites of harm--places people feel the need to escape at all costs.

In Holy Runaways, psychotherapist Matthias Roberts reaches out to those who, like him, want to understand the religion they've run from and erect a new faith on firmer foundations. He concludes that the best blueprint for a new spiritual home requires reimagining ourselves, God, and our very definition of faith.

Roberts blends deeply personal stories, new interpretations of familiar Christian parables, and recent scholarship about the dynamics of trauma to offer a way forward--and a warm, helpful companion--for readers on their own journeys. He calls out people who perpetuate systems of violence and oppression and suggests ways we can all contribute to a new system built on love--and a new home we can inhabit together.

Download the Holy Runaways discussion guide—perfect for small groups, book clubs, and individual reflection.


"Holy Runaways is a testament to struggle, questioning, intelligence, intellectual exploration, and, finally, to the belief that faith without flourishing is a contradiction in terms. It holds a mirror up, asks what its reader sees, and offers pathways of safety, life, and freedom."

Pádraig Ó Tuama, poet, host, and author of Poetry Unbound

"With his gentle but compelling voice to soothe the injuries we have incurred along the way, Matthias Roberts invites us to see that when our faith changes, we are not running away from something but toward something better. Reading this book, you will find that what is on the other side is healthier, more whole, more embodied."

Hillary L. McBride, psychologist, researcher, podcaster, mother, and author of The Wisdom of Your Body 

"For anyone who has a traumatic relationship to the often-toxic institution that is American Christianity, Holy Runaways is a book that will hold your hand and remind you that you aren't alone. The stories and wisdom in this book will help us come home to ourselves and recognize that God (or The Sacred) was here all along."

Kaitlin B. Curtice, award-wining author of Native and Living Resistance 

"Matthias Roberts offers this precious gift with his wit and his wisdom, his gorgeous prose and his tender care. His radiant and generous spirit shines in his candid storytelling. This book, like this human, is utterly beautiful."

Jeff Chu, author of Does Jesus Really Love Me? and coauthor of Wholehearted Faith

"Holy Runaways is an instant classic to be shelved between C. S. Lewis and Gustavo Gutiérrez for modern books that will forever transform the church and the way we see God. I used to think doubt was the opposite of faith, but Roberts makes a case that certainty is its true enemy. This book is a gift for anyone who will never be certain, but values love, adventure, passion, mystery, and truth."

Mari Andrew, New York Times bestselling author of Am I There Yet? and My Inner Sky

"Holy Runaways is not a book--it is a manifesto for the many queer folks who need to know we are indeed holy, indeed beautiful, indeed adored, indeed lovable and loved. Matthias has gifted us with a love letter to our younger selves to remind us that in spite of the created reality of toxic narratives, the Divine made no mistakes with us."

Jo Luehmann, host of The Living Room podcast

"As a holy runaway from the toxic religion of my past, I somehow lost myself in Matthias's poignant telling of his own story, and found myself at the same time as the truth of our common humanity resonated with my soul."

Cindy Wang Brandt, author of Parenting Forward and You Are Revolutionary

"Holy Runaways is a must-read for anyone who has been hurt by religious institutions but is looking to reconstruct a capacious, life-giving faith. A poignant book that arrives at just the moment it's most needed!"

Jonathan Merritt, contributing writer for The Atlantic and author of Learning to Speak God from Scratch

"For all of us wandering zealots, now vagabonds finding our way through the wild wonders of faith and belief, Matthias Roberts has offered a light on the path in front of us with his gentle and beautiful guiding for the holy runaways in all of us." 

Arielle Estoria, poet, actor, and author of The Unfolding

"Unapologetic. Deeply vulnerable. Validating. Unorthodox--in the most surprising and extraordinary ways. The words in this book are exactly what so many of us holy runaways--the abandoned, ignored, forgotten--are running toward."

Marcie Alvis Walker, author of Everybody Come Alive: A Memoir in Essays 

"Embracing uncertainty and learning how to unravel from harmful dogmatic systems is part of the work of becoming a holy runaway. I can only hope that my life mirrors the work of this book and encourages others to embrace the real work of faith in being rooted in yourself enough to become a holy runaway. Much praise for this book!

Roberto Che Espinoza, author of Body Becoming and Activist Theology

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506485652
  • eBook ISBN 9781506485669
  • Dimensions 5.75 x 8.75
  • Pages 266
  • Publication Date October 3, 2023