List of former Catholics
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Former Catholics or ex-Catholics are people who used to be Catholic for some time, but no longer identify as such. This includes both individuals who were at least nominally raised in the Roman Catholic faith, and individuals who converted to it in later life, both of whom later rejected and left it, or converted to other faiths (including the related non-Roman Catholic faiths). This page lists well-known individuals in history who are former Catholics.
One 2008 Pew Research Center study estimates that 10.1% of people in the United States describe themselves as former Catholics in some sense, in total the study reports that 44% of Americans profess a different religious affiliation than the one they were raised in. A majority converted to another religion while a substantial minority are counted as currently unaffiliated.
Note: The list includes those who leave the Catholic Church including any Eastern Catholic Church which is in communion with it. People such as Eddie Doherty, who were allowed to transfer from the Latin Catholic Church to an Eastern Catholic church, or vice versa are not considered as "former Roman Catholics", while Eastern Catholics who convert to a non-Catholic church or another religion are considered as such, even though Eastern Catholics do not typically refer to themselves as "Roman".
Individuals who converted to other churches, denominations and faithsEdit
- Rod Dreher, writer who converted to Catholicism and then to Eastern Orthodoxy
- H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., philosopher and bioethicist
- Tom Hanks, actor, was involved with Catholicism, Mormonism and the Nazarens as a child, a was "Bible-toting evangelical teenager", and converted to the Greek Orthodox Church after marrying his second wife.
- Karl Matzek, artist who joined the Eastern Orthodox Church
- John Anthony McGuckin, scholar, poet, and priest of the Romanian Orthodox Church
- Alexis Toth, Ruthenian Catholic Church priest who converted to Orthodoxy and became a saint in the Orthodox Church in America
- Nathaniel (Popp), archbishop of the Orthodox Church in America's Romanian Episcopate and former interim Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America who converted from the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church on 15 February 1968
- Helen of Anjou, queen consort of the Serbian Kingdom
- Ita Rina, Yugoslav film actress and beauty queen
Anglicanism and churches in communionEdit
- King Henry VIII, king of England who broke the ties between the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church.
- Gregorio Aglipay, Filipino priest who joined the Philippine Independent Church.
- Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State.
- Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a presidential candidate in the 2020 election.
- The Very Revd Miriam Byrne, Irish Catholic nun who became a cathedral provost in the Scottish Episcopal Church.
- Alberto Cutié, priest who was received in the Episcopal Church after a leave of absence granted by his former bishop and decided to continue priestly ministry as a married man.
- Matthew Fox, scholar and priest who became an Episcopalian, after being silenced by the Vatican for heresy and expelled by the Dominicans for disobedience.
- Jim McGreevey, former Governor of New Jersey , who became Episcopalian.
- The Rt Revd Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, raised Muslim but baptised in the Roman Catholic Church at school and received into Anglicanism at age 20.
- Autumn Phillips, received into the Church of England before marrying Peter Phillips to retain his place in the line of succession
- Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia.
- The Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori, first woman primate in the Anglican Communion
- Josette Sheeran, director of the United Nations World Food Programme and former editor with the Washington Times, left the Catholic Church to join the Unification Church and later joined the Episcopal Church.
- Joris Vercammen, Archbishop of Utrecht, spiritual leader of the Utrecht Union of Old Catholic Churches
- Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and Protestant Reformer who helped guide the Anglican Church during the early Reformation.
- John B. Switzer, theologian at Spring Hill College (the Jesuit College of the South); Switzer was a seminarian for the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and left seminary training six months before ordination in order to marry. He is now a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and continues to teach at Spring Hill.
Independent Catholic churchesEdit
- Manuel Alonso Corral, Palmarian Catholic Church (anti)pope
- Clemente Domínguez y Gómez, Palmarian Catholic Church (anti)pope
- Sinéad O'Connor, ordained as a priest in the Irish Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church by Michael Cox in 1999
- Godfrey Silvester Shiundu, Kenyan priest who joined Reformed Catholic Church
- Joseph Liu Xinhong, excommunicated for accepting ordination by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association 
- Joseph Ma Yinglin, excommunicated for accepting ordination by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association 
- Joan Crawford, American actress
- Doris Day, American actress
- Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian, British Ambassador
- Claudio R. M. Costa
- Isabelle Collin Dufresne, later known as Ultra Violet, one of the Warhol Superstars
- Glenn Beck
- Mia Love
- John Calvin, French religious reformer
- Charles Chiniquy, American anti-Catholic writer
- Clive Derby-Lewis, South African Far-Right politician and convicted murderer 
- Dorothy Lucey, news reporter on Good Day LA, converted to the Presbyterian Church (USA) 
- Georges Sada, raised in the Chaldean Catholic Church, which is in communion with Rome. He is the President of the National Presbyterian Church and chairs the Assembly of Iraqi Evangelical Presbyterian Churches. (Also a Senior Warden at an Anglican church)
- Tom Tancredo, former U.S. Representative for Colorado's 6th congressional district, U.S. Presidential candidate in 2008, Constitution Party candidate for Governor of Colorado in 2010, now Evangelical Presbyterian
- Diana DeGette, U.S. Representative for Colorado's 1st congressional district, now a member of Presbyterian Church (USA)
- Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle
- Marie Cavallier (now Princess Marie of Denmark), converted upon marriage to Prince Joachim of Denmark
- Friedrich Heiler, religious scholar in High Church Lutheranism. (Dispute about whether he truly left Catholicism)
- Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark, converted upon marriage to Heiress Presumptive Margrethe (now Queen Margrethe II of Denmark)
- Karel Lavrič, Slovenian liberal nationalist politician and orator
- Katharina Luther, former nun who married Martin Luther
- Martin Luther, Protestant reformer and theologian, excommunicated by papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem
- Philip Melanchthon, Lutheran theologian and Protestant reformer
- Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, German politician of the SPD
- Primož Trubar, Slovenian Protestant preacher and writer
- Tim Walz, Governor of Minnesota and former U.S. Representative from Minnesota's 1st congressional district.
- Marcelo Crivella, senator in the federal government of Brazil
- J. Regina Hyland, pioneer in the field of animals and religion
- Edir Macedo, founded the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God
- Efraín Ríos Montt, former de facto President of Guatemala
- Mark Finley, pastor and speaker emeritus of It Is Written (Adventist TV program)
- Marianne Thieme, Dutch politician, Party for the Animals co-founder, converted to Adventism in 2006
- Walter Veith, scientist, author and speaker known for his work in nutrition, creationism and other Christian topics
- Stephen Baldwin, actor converted to non-denominational Christian
- Huldrych Zwingli, Swiss Protestant Leader
- Jan Hus, theologian who founded the Hussites, influenced the Protestant Reformation
- Jerome of Prague, friend of Jan Hus and Short-Lived leader of the Hussites
- Domineco da Pascia and Silvestro Maruffi, former Italian monks and friends of Girolamo Savonarola
- Bob Enyart, Christian talk-show host, pastor of a non-denominational Christian church
- Mathieu Kérékou, former President of Benin serving for 45 years from 1971 to 2006
- Johannes Gossner, priest, became Protestant, probably Lutheran
- John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, converted after parents' death to non-denominational Protestant
- Bill McCartney, Colorado-based American evangelical/conservative activist
- Peter Nissen, Dutch professor, church historian and theologian, left the Catholic Church in 2010 and formally became a member of the Remonstrants in 2013, although he decided not to undo his baptism
- Vinko Ošlak, Slovenian author, converted to non-denominational Protestantism
- Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska, converted with family as a child to non-denominational Protestant
- Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States, became a born-again Christian while in college
- Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota 2003–2011, converted and attending Protestant church with spouse Mary Pawlenty
- Gina Rodriguez, actress, now attends a non-denominational church.
- Vanessa Hudgens, actress and singer, converted to non-denominational Christianity.
The gottgläubig movement was an officially sanctioned unorganised religion in Nazi Germany. Several prominent Nazi leaders started leaving their Catholic or Protestant churches over the course of 1936 as an act of political protest after a gradual worsening of relations with the churches, whom they accused of meddling in Germany's internal affairs. The Gottgläubigen stressed they still believed in a creator-God who guided the German nation, and rejected atheism and irreligion. The movement disappeared shortly after World War II.
- Heinrich Himmler, SS leader
- Reinhard Heydrich, SS leader
- Carl Röver, Gauleiter of Weser-Ems
Other former CatholicsEdit
- Anne Rice, American writer, converted from Roman Catholicism and made this official through several messages on her website on 29 July 2010. She no longer wishes to be referred to as a ‘Christian’, though retains her belief in Christ, disagreeing with various positions of the Roman Catholic Church.
- Magdi Allam, Egyptian–Italian journalist who publicly converted from Sunni Islam to Catholicism in 2008, baptised by Pope Benedict XVI himself. He left the Catholic Church dissatisfied after the election of Pope Francis in 2013, primarily because he thought the Church failed to take a tough stance against Islam; he remained a Christian, however.
- Patrick Duffy, actor
- Alanis Morissette, singer-songwriter
- Hwang Woo-Suk, South Korean scientist
- Sabina Guzzanti, Italian satirist, actress, writer and producer
- Roberto Baggio, Italian footballer
- Keith Ellison, first Muslim to serve in the United States Congress
- Everlast, Irish-American rapper and guitar player
- René Guénon, French philosopher
- Diana Haddad, singer raised in the Maronite Church
- Murad Wilfred Hofmann, diplomat
- Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America. (She abandoned Catholicism years before her conversion to Islam)
- Matthew Saad Muhammad, boxer
- Peter Murphy, lead singer of Bauhaus
- Vinnie Paz, also known as Ikon the Verbal Hologram; American rapper for the underground hip hop group Jedi Mind Tricks
- Franck Ribéry, French footballer, converted in 2006 to marry his Muslim girlfriend
- Abel Xavier, Portuguese footballer, grew up in a strict Catholic background in Portuguese Mozambique
- Abraham ben Abraham, Polish Talmudic scholar (conflicting stories though)
- B'nai Moshe, Peruvian community of Inca descent which embraced Judaism
- Bishop Bodo, deacon
- Campbell Brown, American television news reporter, currently an anchor and political pundit for CNN and a former co-anchor of NBC's Weekend Today
- Yisrael Campbell, comedian
- Kenneth Cox, priest
- Stephen Dubner, American author
- Aaron Freeman, American journalist and comedian
- Thomas Jones
- Cameron Kerry, American politician and brother of U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry
- John King, American journalist and the host of CNN's State of the Union
- Anne Meara (1929–2015), American comedian and actress, partner and wife of Jerry Stiller
- Mary Doria Russell, American author
- Jews of San Nicandro, Roman Catholic proselyte community to Judaism in Italy
- Joseph Abraham Steblicki, teacher and treasurer
- Karen Tintori, American author of fiction and nonfiction
- Géza Vermes, world-renowned biblical scholar, Hebraist and historian of religion, best known for being an eminent historical Jesus scholar and translator of the Dead Sea Scrolls; a former Catholic priest of Jewish descent, he rediscovered his Jewish roots, abandoned Christianity and converted to Liberal Judaism.
- John David Scalamonti, former Catholic priest, converted to Orthodox Judaism.
- Kenneth Cox, former Catholic priest; changed his name to Abraham Carmel and converted to Orthodox Judaism.
- Gavriel Aryeh Sanders, former Catholic priest and former Evangelical minister, converted to Orthodox Judaism.
- Mare Winningham, American actress
- Ariana Grande, American actress and singer
- Madonna, American singer-songwriter, actress, and businesswoman
- Brigitte Boisselier, mostly known for her association with Clonaid and the Raëlian Church, raised as a Catholic in Champagne, France, holds a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Dijon in France and another one in analytical chemistry from the University of Houston
- Tom Cruise, American actor, originally desired to become a priest. His girlfriend Katie Holmes married him and also switched from Catholicism to Scientology, but upon her divorce from Cruise in 2012, she returned to the Roman Catholic Church.
- Jenna Elfman, American actress
- David Miscavige, leading figure in Scientology
- John Travolta, American actor, in 1975
- Nancy Cartwright, American actress
- Catherine Bell, American actress
This section lists some who, while adopting ideas that some others would consider incompatible with the Catholic faith, may have defected from the Church neither by a formal act nor even informally by an act of heresy, schism or apostasy. Mere attendance at services of another religion or adoption of certain meditation techniques need not signify abandonment of one's own religion. According to a 2009 survey of the Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life, one in five American Catholics report that they at times attend places of worship other than the local Catholic parish (which does not have to mean non-Catholic places). The same survey noted that some Catholics incorporate "yoga as a spiritual practice", emphasize psychics, and draw on and involve themselves in other religious movements.
- Fidel Castro, excommunicated
- Jack Clayton, British director who identified himself as an "ex-Catholic"
- Robert Crumb, X-rated American cartoonist
- Irene Dailey, American actress who became a Unitarian
- Christopher Durang, American playwright
- Rodrigo Duterte, 16th and current President of the Philippines
- Rosario Francesco Esposito, joined Freemasonry
- Edward Gibbon, converted to Catholicism at Oxford University, a year later under threat of being disinherited, returned to Anglicanism
- Heather Graham, American actress (Transcendental Meditation)
- Harry Hay, British-born American gay activist, founded the Radical Faeries
- Michael Harrington, American political activist, grew up Catholic, lapsed whilst adopting more radical politics.
- Ammon Hennacy, American pacifist, Christian anarchist, vegetarian and social activist
- Anne Jackson, American actress of Irish and Croatian extraction; married to Eli Wallach
- Adolf Hitler, Austrian-born German politician. The religious views of Adolf Hitler remain in dispute. Despite (mostly privately) criticising Christianity – especially the churches – in his later life, Hitler never repudiated his membership of the Catholic Church; in 1941, he told his General Gerhard Engel: "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so."
- Bill Keller, New York Times editor who said he was a "collapsed Catholic"
- Ashton Kutcher, American actor
- Richard Lugner, excommunicated, he is a successful Austrian entrepreneur in the construction industry, and a Viennese society figure
- Timothy McVeigh, American terrorist, baptized and raised Catholic, identified as an agnostic shortly before his death, but took the last rites administered by a Catholic priest
- Emmanuel Milingo, excommunicated, former Zambian Roman Catholic archbishop
- Conor Oberst, singer-songwriter
- Rosie O'Donnell, American comedian and actress; lesbian
- Paul Provenza, Italian-American comic .
- Jean Jacques Rousseau, converted to Catholicism upon moving to France, rejected it for Calvinism upon moving back to Geneva
- Pierre Trudeau -- born Roman Catholic but expressed contempt of religion while PM (1968-1979, 1980-1984), even ordering a customised "triple-6" licence-plate for his car; administered last-rites, and funeral conducted in Catholic Church
- Orson Welles, legendary American filmmaker and actor
- Jim Carrey, Canadian American actor and comedian; describes himself as spiritual.
- Chris Martin, lead vocalist of the band Coldplay
- Victor Hugo, French poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist
Atheism, agnosticism, or non-religiousEdit
- Alex Agnew, Belgian comedian and musician
- Steve Allen, American actor, TV show host, comedian, writer, musician (secular humanist and scientific skeptic)
- Javier Bardem, Spanish actor
- Floris van den Berg, Dutch philosopher and writer
- Paul Bettany, British actor
- Mike Birbiglia, American comedian, writer, actor, and director
- Frankie Boyle, Scottish comedian and writer, quoted saying "Religion is just what we thought before we understood what mental illness was."
- Christopher Buckley, political satirist
- Ed Byrne, Irish stand-up comedian
- George Carlin, American stand-up comedian
- Antonio Carluccio, Italian chef, restaurateur and food expert
- Jimmy Carr, British comedian
- Jim Carroll, American poet, diarist and musician
- George Clooney, American actor (agnostic)
- Pat Condell, British comedian
- Billy Connolly, Scottish stand-up comedian
- Marie Curie, Nobel laureate in chemistry and physics
- Guillermo del Toro, Mexican film director
- Amanda Donohoe, British actress
- Klaas Dijkhoff, Dutch politician
- Theodore Dreiser, American writer (Socialism and possibly Christian Science)
- Roger Ebert, American journalist, film critic and screenwriter
- Brian Eno, British musician and record producer
- Siobhan Fahey, British musician, member of Bananarama, now interested in spiritualism
- Nick Frost, British actor, comedian and screenwriter
- Janeane Garofalo, American comedian (Freethought advocate).
- Éamon Gilmore, Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) of Ireland (2011–)
- Kathy Griffin, American comedian and actress
- James Gunn, American film director and screenwriter for Guardians of the Galaxy who abandoned his Catholicism at the age of 11.
- Amber Heard, American actress
- Joe Higgins, Socialist Party Member of the European Parliament for Dublin, Ireland
- François Hollande, 24th President of France
- Anton van Hooff, Dutch classical historian and columnist
- Anthony Jeselnik, American stand-up comedian and television writer
- Katastroof, Belgian musical band consisting of "Jos Smos", "Zjuul Krapuul" and "Stef Bef" (pseudonyms) who had been singing songs critical of religion for over 30 years before deciding to "debaptise" themselves from the Catholic Church in 2010, and writing an "Ontdopingslieke" ("Debaptism Song") to urge others to do the same. They did this after a series Catholic Church sexual abuse cases of children around the world came to light.
- Denis Leary, American actor
- John Lydon, British musician, singer for The Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd.
- Seth MacFarlane, writer, creator, producer for Family Guy, American Dad, etc.
- James McAvoy, Scottish actor
- Barry McGowan, American author and Atheist leader.
- Bill Maher, American comedian and television personality
- Zoran Milanović, Croatian politician and a leader of Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP)
- Roh Moo-hyun, 16th President of South Korea
- Giorgio Napolitano, 11th President of Italy
- Dara Ó Briain, Irish stand-up comedian and television presenter
- Joyce Carol Oates, author, critic (atheist)
- Conor Oberst, American singer-songwriter
- Bob Odenkirk, American actor and comedian; stated on his Twitter
- Ronald Plasterk, Dutch professor of microbiology and Minister of Education and Domestic Affairs
- Park Chan-wook, South Korean film director
- Joe Rogan, American sports commentator and stand-up comedian (agnostic)
- Chris Rush, American comedian who considers himself spiritual rather than religious.
- Dan Savage, author
- Andy Serkis, British actor
- Omar Sharif, actor and bridge player; an Egyptian Melkite Catholic who converted to Islam, later became an atheist
- Aziz Shavershian, Australian bodybuilder and internet celebrity.
- Julia Sweeney, atheist comedian on the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America
- Janez Stanovnik, Slovenian resistance fighter and politician
- Laurie Taylor (sociologist)
- Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslav political leader
- Rob Trip, Dutch television and radio presenter, calls himself a "cultural Catholic, (...) but I'm not religious at all. Not Catholic and not believing."
- Jerome Tuccille, author of Heretic: Confessions of an Ex-Catholic Rebel
- Peter van der Vorst, Dutch television presenter and producer
- Dana White, first and current president of UFC
- Robert Anton Wilson, American author, philosopher, novelist, essayist and polymath (agnostic)
- Terry Wogan, Irish and British radio personality
- Greg Gutfeld, American television personality
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- 403 Forbidden
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I myself have been raised as a Catholic, and I attended a Catholic school. (...) But if they ask me if I am religious, despite or thanks to my religious upbringing, I usually say: 'No. I don't believe, I'm an atheist.'
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I'm incredibly happy to have been born in a liberal Catholic nest, where I was spared the subjection to dogmas, authority and rites.
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