This week’s guest is Jenny McGrath. Jenny is a licensed mental health counselor, a somatic psychotherapist, and a movement educator specializing in religious trauma and sexual abuse. She believes “in the power of story and the wisdom of the body.”
Jenny’s work stems partly from her evangelical upbringing in Colorado Springs. She was steeped in the world of purity culture. Her work also comes from a broad understanding of the history of purity culture—women’s disembodiment, trauma, gender erasure, systemic racism and more.
Jenny guides and support others in their journeys to liberation and hope after years of harm and trauma. She is truly living out secular grace!
“A lot of times in psychology, we’re looked at as though we are ‘floating heads’…that’s not enough. We are deeply embodied beings.”
“I really wanted to be good…and I dedicated myself to it.”
“…started to unpack more of the systems—white supremacy and Christian supremacy—and how they impact the body.”
“…these insidious messages: Your body is dangerous. You are dangerous. Cover it up.”
“[Purity culture] for young women is this crazy-making experience. You are completely sexualized while being told, ‘Don’t be sexual.’”
“Young white women are really taught to be objects of sexuality. We aren’t taught to be subjects of sexuality.”
“I always view healing not as just individual, but I think especially as white-bodied folks, our healing needs to also look at how we’ve also been complicit in systems of harm.”
Embodied Sexuality Course
Purity Culture Research Collective
Straight White American Jesus podcast
The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti
Virgin Nation by Sara Moslener
Shameless by Nadia Bolz Weber (progressive Christian perspective)
“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats
NOTE: This transcript is AI produced (otter.ai) and likely has many mistakes. It is provided as rough guide to the audio conversation.
David Ames 0:11 This is the graceful atheist podcast. Welcome, welcome. Welcome to the graceful atheist podcast. My name is David, and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. Please consider telling someone about the podcast if you have a favorite episode or a story that really impacted you let a friend or family member know about that, show them the podcast and show them how they can listen to it in an app. We continue to have the deconversion anonymous Tuesday evening hangout after the podcast release. The guest from the previous week generally is available for you to ask further questions, so please join the deconversion anonymous Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/deconversion. Special thanks to Mike T for editing today's show. On today's show, my guest today is Jenny McGrath. Jenny is a licensed mental health counselor. She works from a trauma informed perspective and she has a focus on embodiment. Her particular expertise is for those who have suffered trauma because of purity culture. And as a content warning, we will be talking about the trauma induced by purity culture and religious trauma. Jenny is a part of the purity culture of research collective. And Jenny has a course called embodied sexuality that helps people walk through recovery from religious trauma and purity culture trauma. You can find Jenny's website at indwell counseling.com. As well as finding the embodied sexuality course at indwell movement.com. Here is my conversation with Jenny McGrath. Jenny McGrath, welcome to the graceful atheist podcast. Jenny McGrath 2:08 Thank you so much for having me really excited to be here. David Ames 2:12 I'm glad you're here. I'm gonna let you talk more about your credentials, but you're a licensed mental health counselor. And you have focused on purity culture, and specifically the embodiment of one sexuality, you want to give us the five minute overview of your work. And we'll we'll dive in deep in a bit. But just the overview here. Jenny McGrath 2:32 Absolutely. Yeah. So I'm a licensed mental health counselor, and I do somatic psychotherapy. So I really help folks integrate kind of more traditional talk therapy with their bodies. A lot of times in psychology, we're looked at as if we're floating heads, and especially in trauma research, what we've seen is that that's not enough. We are deeply embodied beings, and especially when we've experienced trauma, the body just needs to be engaged. And so I do that in different ways, both just through simple breathing exercises and somatic exercises in session. And then I also do classes and courses to help folks understand their connection with their bodies. David Ames 3:21 That's amazing. Yeah, I know that the kind of the bleeding edge on mental health at this point in time, is that recognition that we've kind of ignored the body and that the nomenclature is the traumas held in the body. Is that the perspective you're coming from? Jenny McGrath 3:36 Absolutely, yeah. And especially as you mentioned, I work primarily with folks who are working through religious trauma or religious sexual shame. And for many in that world, myself included, most of our life, we were told our body didn't matter, or our body was sinful or terrible. And so there's even just so much ingrained messaging and beliefs and disconnect from the body that takes a lot of time to heal and to rediscover what it means to be human what it means to be a body, when we've learned so many skewed messages for a really long time. David Ames 4:14 Yes, the flesh is evil, the flesh is weak. Yeah, you know, there are some definite parallels you know, with the the podcast, the message that I've been trying to get out from the get go is embracing one's humanity. That includes your physicality, that includes your sexuality, that includes your emotions. And on the other side of the fence, the atheist rationalist side of the fence has been very focused on the brain and the mind as well and ignoring the rest and so definitely, we try to take the whole picture the whole human being into effect. So you are the perfect guest here. Jenny McGrath 4:51 I love that. Oh, great. Yeah. David Ames 5:02 So what I'd love to start with is a little bit about your story. So I understand that purity culture affected your life as well. Jenny McGrath 5:10 It did. Yeah, I grew up in Colorado Springs. And so for a lot of folks who understand fundamental evangelicalism, that might sound like a familiar place, yes, it really was the height of a lot of purity culture, rhetoric, Colorado Springs was the birthplace of the original Purity Balls. And so I was very steeped in that world. And I am the youngest and the only girl, I have three older brothers. And so I think I was uniquely impacted by the messages of purity culture, I think everyone is impacted by the message is a purely cultural, regardless of gender. And so for me, I really wanted to be good in that system. And I really dedicated my life to it. So much so that when I was 19 years old, I moved to Uganda to be a missionary. Wow. Yeah, and spent several years there. And it was actually my journey with my body. That kind of started to shift course for me, after a few years, my body really shut down with vicarious trauma with my own undealt with trauma. And so I wasn't sure if I would be able to go back to Uganda, I actually initially went to grad school, to learn how to work in Uganda long term, and how to try to make it sustainable. And that was kind of my goal. And then through my grad school experience was where I think for me, I started first questioning race, and what it meant for me as a white woman as a 1920 21 year old to step into Uganda as an expert, and why that was okay. And, and it really started to not become okay for me over the years. And then that really started to unpack a lot more of the systems of white supremacy and Christian supremacy, and how they impact the body. And so I've been in private practice for over six years now. And most of the clients that I work with are also on some level, either deconstructing or just trying to sort through what they believe, versus what they've been told that they should believe most of their lives. One of David Ames 7:47 the things that I mentioned fairly often is that I came to Christianity in my late teens, 16 or 17 years old, and I had already had sexual experiences, I already had kind of a sense of self. And I feel like that protected me from some of the most damaging elements of purity. Jenny McGrath 8:06 Totally, my first response was lucky. Yeah. David Ames 8:10 So maybe as a beginning question, then what are some of the damaging messages that one receives, especially as you know, maybe a person going through puberty within this purity culture? Jenny McGrath 8:22 Totally. Um, I think, you know, purity culture, sets up binary rhetoric. And so it has very, very specific gender social norms and constructs for who are quote unquote, men and who are, quote unquote, women. And so right off the bat, there is just a ratio for folks who are non binary or who are transgender, there really is no languaging for them in this world. And so for people who are cisgender men, or who are socialized as men, you know, they receive so many messages that they are out of control animals, that they're not going to be able to control themselves. And they're also, you know, I think the subtext for that is that there's often not a lot of responsibility taught. There's not especially because, you know, purity culture wasn't only in evangelicalism through Reagan and onward. And then, through George W. Bush, there was a lot of abstinence only education taught in public schools, that was kind of put there because of purity culture. And one of the main tenants of that is this idea that you can't teach kids about consent, because if you teach kids consent, they're going to have sex, so just don't do it. And so what that does is creates another binary of sex or no sex. IX and there is no language for sexual abuse. There's no language for unwanted sexual contact. And so a lot of times, then the messaging that cisgender women or those who are socialized as women here is that, you know, especially white women, I will add also, this is also very racialized in the system where white women are these bearers of innocence and purity. And young girls. 1211 are told, you know, don't dress too sexy. You know, I remember in seventh grade, I was lined up in a hallway with a group of girls, and we were 11. And we had to put our arms down. And if our fingertips went below our shorts, we've added the tension. And it was just these like, insidious messages all the time, like your body is dangerous, you yourself are dangerous. So cover it up, you know, these messages of like, frame only your face, make sure like nothing else in your body is appealing. And so it really set up a lot of harm for obviously, all genders. And then you know, the flip side of that is that often there was these ideas that have a long history in our country as well, where there was no place for women of color. Within purity culture, often black women were socialized, or not socialized, but they were stereotyped as being hyper sexual, or lascivious. And so purity culture really does emphasize this idea. And what this trope of what I call the young white woman, and how there's this really small, rigid idea of what that means, and how you are supposed to perform racially and gendered within that system. David Ames 12:00 Interesting, because I was just listening to a podcast. This is critical with Virginia Heffernan where they were discussing public pools and one of the big racial issues was when they went from gender segregated to gender integrated was when racism just exploded, and they didn't want to have black men and white women together in kind of that intimate setting. So let's expound upon that you've, you've said in your work, there's this intersection of sexism and racism. And let's just talk about more about that. Jenny McGrath 12:32 Yeah, definitely. So I, you know, in my research and my work I look at, I kind of trace the trope of young white women really through early us days, you know, there were the messages that you couldn't rape and enslave to women, because black women always wanted to have sex. And so the the ways in which white women and black women were pitted against each other, and that always led to disproportionate harm of bodies of color. And what I want folks to also understand is that white women are also harmed in that system, the more implicit and subtle harm, but it ends up being a really dis embodying experience when your whole life is about how you perform in that system. And so we see this trace through, you know, in 1950, and there was the film, Birth of a Nation that had white men in black face sexually assaulting white women. And after that we see huge uptick in in lynchings and in violence against black communities. And so the ideology of quote, unquote, protecting young white women has always been used to harm bodies of color in the United States. David Ames 14:05 Yes, this seems like just one more way in which the systemic racism rears its ugly head in the United States and Western culture in general. I want to focus a little bit on the impact on women, we've already acknowledged that this affects all genders, all of the spectrum of genders. You know, for boys, it's that boys will be boys and they're kind of let off, let off the hook and treat it as though they are uncontrollable. But for women, specifically, there's a another level of burden. So you were describing being 11 years old and having to put your arms down. There's a sexualization of an 11 or 12 year old young girl, she hasn't even thought about sexuality, and yet, maybe, maybe, maybe not. But you know, and suddenly, all of all this sexuality is placed upon her. You want to talk about what that is like for young women? Jenny McGrath 15:05 Yeah, absolutely. It's this crazy making experience where you are completely sexualized. While you're being told, don't be sexual. And so everything about you is about your life, your value your worth, your future has been hinging on the social construct of your virginity, while you're also not receiving comprehensive sex education to even understand how virginity itself is a social construct. And so there's so many messages that then sever oneself from their body. Because if I'm in my body, you know, young white women are really taught to be objects of sexuality. They aren't taught, we aren't taught to be subjects of sexuality. And so even in a lot of the youth group messaging, or the abstinence only often when there were conversations about masturbation, they were only focused on young boys or young men. And there was never an idea or a thought that that would be something that young women might want to explore or enjoy. And so a lot of times that compiles this shame for folks who are in a female body and do have a sexual desire. Because in that world you're taught kind of sex is something you're supposed to endure, it's not really supposed to be something you want or you enjoy. It's really to, you know, keep your husband satisfied. And so when you have your own ideas, or fantasies or desires, that becomes so disorienting and so confusing. Even more, so if you are not a straight woman, and if you're a queer woman, and there's no education for that being normalized are okay. And so for most of the folks that I work with, in my own journey, a lot of what is kind of the norm is the certain level of dissociation. When I ask my clients, you know, what types of things do you like? Whether that sexual or not, it is a really common phrase that I hear this say, I don't actually know what I want simple things like do you like pizza? You know, like, there is an and I tell people, we don't come into the world not knowing what we like, you know, the first thing we do is scream if we're cold, or hungry, or tired, or we want to be held. And so we've really learned that as a super young age, often, how to disconnect and how to have this aspect of everything's fine. I'm okay. And we don't really know what's going on in our insides often. David Ames 18:02 Yeah, that is amazing. Again, as I mentioned, you know, coming to it late, one of the things that was shocking to me, as I started to do these interviews was how much impact this has had on I'll be talking to a 35 year old, right 30 year old and you can see the trauma literally that they have lived through. And I just wasn't prepared for that. I was naive, I was ignorant, you know, and it has been an education to, to talk to people about their experiences. Jenny McGrath 18:34 Yeah, Yep, absolutely. You know, and it was primarily girls who received purity rings or Purity Balls, you know, I I had a purity ring. None of my three brothers had a purity, right? David Ames 18:48 It was suspiciously so Jenny McGrath 18:52 totally, yeah. And so they're really, you know, and these were, we received these when we were 1112 13. Often, without even fully understanding what we were committing to or what we were consenting to, because we didn't know we didn't really have much language for it. And so for a lot of folks, it's kind of just the water we swim in. And it is deeply traumatizing, as you're saying. And a lot of folks don't even realize that because it's for those of us who grew up in that world. That's all we knew. And that's all we saw modelled. And so it's kind of like, oh, this, it takes more work to kind of the frog in boiling water, you know, just step out and be like, what was that? Yeah. David Ames 19:51 You've touched on a few times the lack of sex education. It's my understanding that even as it pertains to abortion rates and things like that, that solid sex education, access to reproductive health care, all of those things reduce abortion rates, and yet the abstinence only crowd and the anti abortion crowd, do the opposite of that such that we have, of course, ignorance. Of course, a 16 year old who's never had sex education has no idea how sex works. And so you're going to have unplanned pregnancies, you're going to have that more often? Because they don't know. They don't know what they don't know. Jenny McGrath 20:31 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, there is the you don't know what you don't know. And also, there's the sense in that world that you can't admit that you want to have sex. So having a condom on hand is planning that you want to have premeditation. Exactly, it's so much more, okay, quote, unquote, to say, oh, my gosh, it just happened. I don't know why we were just in a room together. But to say like, Yes, I actually put thought into this. This is something I desire. Yeah. And you're absolutely right. You know, the places that have the highest abstinence only education are the places that often have the highest teen pregnancies, unwanted pregnancies, STI rates, because there isn't information. And usually abstinence only education is really correlated with access to contraceptives, as well. Places that really value the whole person, including sexuality and providing for that often have more access to healthy and safe and affordable contraceptives, whereas in the United States, we do not. David Ames 21:59 One of the things, Jenny that I've heard you talk about is the potential for people to over respond. So they come out of purity culture, and they have all this new freedom. And in some ways, it's like, you know, the person has been had Arrested Development, right, and they are coming as an adult, as if they were a teenager, and they can, they can overreact a bit, I wanted to just mention that, again, no judgement about this at all. But to say that, we also need to be wise about our sexuality. Jenny McGrath 22:30 Totally. Yeah. And it's such a complex area, you know, because hypersexuality can also be a symptom of sexual abuse. It's one of many ways in which someone who has had experiences where they didn't have agency, they didn't have consent looks for what we call trauma mastery. And there's kind of this unconscious, visceral sense of maybe this time, maybe this time, maybe this time, yeah. And we really keep trying to find spaces where we feel empowered. And often when we do make disembodied or impulsive choices, that ends up doing the opposite of what we want. And so I love what you said, like no judgment, I think it starts with understanding, it makes sense, you know, either from a trauma lens, or even from just a compensatory effect. Yeah. Really, yeah. And for some folks, I do think that that can be sort of a delayed developmental stage where they didn't get to, we didn't get to have the exploration, the experimentation at ages that we could do that in a smaller, safer community. And so sometimes that might happen later, and it might come with more risks. And so that's why I think it's so important for folks to understand, you know, how to use protection, how to have conversations about STI status, how to talk about consent, and making sure you feel safe with someone, and things that take a little more time to develop. So that is that can be part of the developmental phase. And then over time, usually that can kind of work itself into a sexuality that feels like it's integrated into all of who the person is. David Ames 24:39 Jenny, you've mentioned a couple times doing research and I understand you're a part of the purity culture research collective. So I wanted you to talk about about that. What does that organization do and what is the research aspect of the work that you do? Jenny McGrath 24:53 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So we are a collective of Professor as scholars, therapists, artists, activists, a group of folks who came together around this issue of purity culture, and so you know, some folks in our group such as Professor Sarah Maas Lindner has written the book virgin nation, which is one of kind of the Bible's I say that for purity culture. And then we have, you know, just folks that are continuing to do ongoing research. And so my aspect of the research comes out of my own experience, and out of just this phenomenon that I've witnessed, and it's the trans nationalizing of purity. And so I was one of many young white women who decided to be missionaries, who grew up in this world, and especially missionaries in Uganda, that was a very big focus in the early to mid 2000s. And so I'm looking at why, how was the rhetoric and the socialization that we received? How did that prime us when we heard about organizations such as Invisible Children, that there were, you know, I know, so many women? And as I've been telling folks about my research study, one of the most common responses I have is that is so weirdly niche. And I just had 12 People come to mind, David Ames 26:38 right? Exactly. Jenny McGrath 26:42 But there are folks researching all different things like the intersection of purity culture, and eating disorders, the intersection of purity, culture and racism, how an effect within evangelicalism lends itself to covering up sexual abuse. Looking at crisis pregnancy centers, and their correlation with purity culture, it just is such an amazing group that I'm really honored to be a part of. That's, that's amazing. Yeah, it's really exciting. David Ames 27:17 And then what is the output of that? Do other other counselors consume that? Does academia consume that? Who who is the the other end of that research? Jenny McGrath 27:26 Yeah, so right, for me personally, or for the whole? For the collective? Yeah. So we're all it's all very different. Um, so some of us are professors at universities. And so their research goes to their students to their publications. Some are artists and their work goes to whoever gets to see that and witness that. Those of us who are therapists that ends up being one of our specialties, we do have kind of an offshoot of the purity culture research collective, is the post purity healing project. And so that is compiling different healers and therapists or body workers who are helping folks who experienced purity culture, because part of our our collective is this funny, mish really specific thing that actually the more we dive into, really touched so many people, whether they grew up in evangelicalism or not, and so we're still young, we're a couple years old, but still learning like, how and what we can contribute to those who were impacted. So it's all very exciting. David Ames 28:47 Very cool. You say something that's really important there that obviously we are focusing on the Christian aspect of this, but honestly, it's kind of Victorian era sexual politics that have been around for a very long time. And it is, you know, if you think of kind of all the tropes of the 50s, that young young people just weren't educated about sexuality, and were making mistakes as they went along. So you could imagine people that are older in their 60s 70s that could still have been affected by this purity culture. Jenny McGrath 29:18 Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, one of the things that I often like to point out is that our first permanent settlement was Virginia, named after the virginal status of a long obsession. David Ames 29:52 Okay, so let's turn to more of your particular practice. I understand that you have a project at For lack of a better term called Sexual embodiment, or embodiment, why am I saying this wrong? Jenny McGrath 30:06 Embodied sexuality? Okay, yes, David Ames 30:09 you have the embodied sexuality course. And I want to delve into that. What is that? Like? What would participant experience if they went through that? Jenny McGrath 30:18 For sure, yeah, the embodied sexuality course really came out of over six years of having different and very similar conversations with my clients around their bodies, around understanding why we were socialized to the way that we were socialized. And so the embodied sexuality course really is, what I would say is more of a process course. So I think there are courses out there that are very content oriented, and this course does have a ton of content. But it is really emphasizing allowing someone to be in the process of engaging the course material. And I it's not therapy, it doesn't put me in a therapeutic relationship with someone. But I have created the course out of the therapeutic relationships that I've had for the last six years, to really help folks get to go through unpacking the impacts of purity culture of abstinence only education, on their bodies, on their lives on their communities. And so there's nine different modules that include, you know, one is a 90 minute lecture with a ton of reading about the history of purity. Like we were just saying, these old tropes that you can trace back for 1000s of years. Because I think it's so important for folks to understand, our sexuality doesn't exist in a vacuum. There are reasons that we feel the way we do about what we like what we don't like. And often those are because of external messages, not actually because of the way that we feel, right. And so then I also have modules on trauma and understanding how sexual abuse and sexual trauma impact our relationship to our body and our sexuality. There's a module on pleasure, and exploring what that looks like, especially for female bodied folks who never had that curiosity or not that they didn't have that curiosity. It just wasn't allowed. Yeah. And so it's, it's really meant to be a fully comprehensive, I call it the sex education we never received, plus a lot more plus kind of helping understand, you know, why and how these racist and sexist ideas have been so strong. And I always view healing, not as just individual, I think, especially as white bodied folks, our healing needs to always look at how we've also been complicit in systems of harm. And so this course is really about individual healing and collective liberation. How do we allow ourselves to be more become more free, in service of a world that's more free that allows all bodies to feel safe and free? David Ames 33:46 Jenny, I've had multiple people asked me to do a podcast on purity culture, and I've been super nervous about doing it because I've seen it done wrong. Right. I've seen it done the overreaction side of things. Yeah. And so I really appreciate the expertise that you have brought to this subject. And the matter of fact, way that we can discuss sexuality. I think that in itself is just a model that sexuality is such a normal part of being a human being we can talk about it in a normal way. I just really appreciate that. I want to give you a moment to let people know how they can reach out to you how, as maybe as a counselor, but also how to be a part of the second embodiment, of course. Jenny McGrath 34:29 Yeah, for sure. So my counseling website is indwell counseling.com. And then the course website is indwell movement.com. And one thing I want to say about the course if that's all right, is that you know it is our highest priority that the course get to as many folks that need it. And so while the course is priced for the value because of the dozens of hours of content much less the hundreds of hours that went into it. We are committed that anybody who wants the course will have access to it and not be prohibited due to lack of funds. So just want to put that out there for folks who've heard our conversation today. And think this sounds really like something I need. Feel free to go to indwell movement.com. And let me know if there is anything I can do to help you in in your process and your journey of healing because I think it's so, so important and so valuable. David Ames 35:34 Jenny McGrath, thank you so much for being on the podcast. Jenny McGrath 35:37 Thank you so much for having me. David Ames 35:45 Final thoughts on the episode. As I said, there at the end, I am very thankful to Jenny for coming on and discussing the topic of purity culture, and sexuality and embodied sexuality. This is a topic that has been requested on a number of occasions. And I've really been looking for the right person to come and talk to us about that. So I really appreciate the expertise that she brought to the conversation. I want to give a shout out as well to the purity culture research collective and the work that they are all doing. I think that's amazing work. I think it's a understudied area, as well as religious trauma in general. And what Jenny is doing and what the collective is doing is amazing work. I really appreciated Jenny's matter of fact discussion about sexuality, about purity culture, about the trauma that is induced from purity culture. To quote Jenny, these insidious messages, your body is dangerous, you are dangerous, cover it up. Another quote from Jenny purity culture for young women is this crazy making experience you are completely sexualized while being told don't be sexual. And my heart is broken, as usual to hear about the way that particularly young women, but people within fundamentalist religious context in general, and the purity culture experience, the trauma that a person experiences. What that would do to a person going through puberty, going through their teenage years is just devastating, and my heart is broken. For those of you who have suffered through that journey also represents hope, though, that we can reclaim our bodies, we can reclaim our sexuality, reclaim our autonomy and individuality and move forward and progress and work through these things. I also appreciated Jenny's unpacking of the intersection of sexism, purity, culture, and racism, and how that has impacted historically disparate groups of people, as well as the myths around young white female purity and the paternalistic protection of young white women. But the damage that that does not only to the people of color, but also the young white women themselves. So I really appreciated her highlighting that and digging into that as well. The quote of the conversation has to be, and this is quoting Johnny, women are really taught to be the objects of sexuality, we are not taught to be the subjects of sexuality. I think that really hit me the most as a heterosexual man having lived within the Christian context and that subjectivity never being in doubt, the boys will be boys excuses, and the focus of men as being the subjects and the women as being objects. And begin to experience that autonomy of becoming your own self as a woman and taking over your own sexuality. And your own body has got to be one of the greatest elements of deconstruction and deconversion. Jenny was absolutely the perfect guest to discuss purity culture, and I really, really appreciate what she brought to the table here. You can find Jenny at indwell counseling.com. And you can find her embodied sexuality course at endwell movement.com. And of course, we will have those links in the show notes. I want to thank Jenny for being on the podcast and bringing her expertise and giving us some hope that we can overcome the messages that we may have internalized, and we can be a whole human being at the other end. Thank you Jenny for being on the podcast. The secular Grace Thought of the Week is about embracing the fullness of our humanity. That includes our sexuality, our gender, our internal identity, our bodies, our emotions, and all of those things holistically make us a human being. And it is a continual process of embracing that, and deconstructing, and jettisoning the messages that tell us that any part of ourselves is bad, or unrighteous, or less than human in any way. This truly is the message of the podcast that almost all religious traditions, we tend to focus on Christianity, because it is a super easy target. But virtually all of them diminish one's humanity in one way or another. You've heard me be critical even of meditation in the past, and my reason for that is that people talk about meditation as if they are doing it wrong. They will say things like, I love to meditate, but I'm not very good at it. What I want to get across to you is that any message that suggests that you are not good enough, isn't true. The entire point is that when we accept our humanity, accept ourselves for who we are, to give ourselves secular grace. This enables us to recognize these insidious messages that are just not true. Because we are no longer seeing ourselves as incomplete, unrighteous, unhealthy, unfit, all of these messages are to the detriment of our own humanity. And this simple message of you are a human being and that deserves dignity, respect, love, community, and self respect. And if you can get a handle on that, you begin to see all the other messages that would suggest otherwise then become obvious and easy to reject and get rid of. My hope for you is that you embrace your own humanity and let go of the baggage of the past. That is the end goal of deconstruction and deconversion. Next week, we have Adria, Adria, has expertise in international development and education. And she reached out to me because we've had so many missionaries on she wanted to challenge the idea of missionary work and the inherent racism that is underneath that and the audacity, much like what Jenny recognized in herself, of traveling to another country and suggesting that you know, more than the local people know. So look forward to that next week. Until then, my name is David, and I am trying to be the graceful atheist join me and be graceful human. Time for the footnotes. The beat is called waves for MCI beats, links will be in the show notes. If you'd like to support the podcast, you can promote it on your social media. You can subscribe to it in your favorite podcast application, and you can rate and review it on pod chaser.com. You can also support the podcast by clicking on the affiliate links or books on Bristol atheists.com. If you have podcast production experience and you would like to participate podcast, please get in touch with me. Have you gone through a faith transition? And do you need to tell your story? Reach out? If you are a creator, or work in the deconstruction deconversion or secular humanism spaces and would like to be on the podcast? Just ask. If you'd like to financially support the podcast there's links in the show notes. To find me you can google graceful atheist. You can google deconversion you can google secular race. You can send me an email graceful firstname.lastname@example.org or you can check out the website graceful atheists.com My name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist join me and be graceful human beings this has been the graceful atheist podcast Transcribed by https://otter.ai