Julia: Deconstruction of a Doctor

Adverse Religious Experiences, Agnosticism, Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Hell Anxiety, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts

Content Warning: miscarriage; traumatic birth; mental health problems; hell anxiety 

Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Julia. Julia is the clever mind behind the Instagram account, @painfulpostchristianprayers

Julia grew up in a German mostly-atheist home. The hostility, however, she saw for religion made it all the more appealing. As she came of age, she found herself confirmed in the German Lutheran church but attending and loving a very American Baptist church. Julia was all-in but soon found some doctrines were a bit much, especially the teachings about Hell.

For years, Julia threw herself into American Church World. She read the entire Bible, went to university to become a missionary doctor, met her spouse at church, even read Joshua Harris’s books. But life has a way of forcing some to wonder–Is the God I believe in really is as kind as I’ve been told

After one trying event after another, Julia could no longer see God’s “goodness, and she started to see through the “incredibly ridiculous explanations” people gave when God did not come through.

Julia is in a different place now. Her online presence provides an outlet for the anger that had been pent-up for so long, and it has also brought her community. She is far from alone; thousands are waking up to the empty promises of Christianity. 

And that is what is what humans truly need—not a distant, pretend deity but real human connection and relationship.

Quotes

“I’d prayed The Prayer…like, twenty times or so because I was never sure if it worked.”

“This Christian role that I was trying to press myself into was really causing me to be in a really bad place…”

“I think this is happening because I wasn’t faithful to god.”

“I felt like I couldn’t trust God anymore to do what he, supposedly, was suppose to do—namely protect his kids!”

“That’s what I am looking for, I am trying to find a god I can love, and I cannot love this one because he is abusive.”

“I came in touch with my longing for that god. I wanted it to be true … and I didn’t. “

“Everything works in that theological framework until it doesn’t.”

“It’s not just a belief system. It’s an abusive relationship with an abusive deity.” 

“I tried to salvage my faith … but the slipery slope is really as slippery as they say.”

“It just all came apart in my hands until nothing was left”

Links

Painful Post-Christian Prayers
https://www.instagram.com/painfulpostchristianprayers/

Recommendations

Online deconversion communities

https://www.facebook.com/groups/deconversion

Podcasts

The Phil Drysdale Show podcast
https://www.phildrysdale.com/theshow/

Books

Wayward by Alice Greczyn

Leaving the Fold by Marlene Winell 

#AmazonPaidLinks

Interact

Alice Greczyn
https://gracefulatheist.com/2021/01/31/alice-greczyn-wayward/
https://gracefulatheist.com/2019/07/25/alice-greczyn-dare-to-doubt/

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Thom Krystofiak: Tempted to Believe

Agnosticism, Atheism, Authors, Book Review, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Naturalism, Philosophy, skepticism, Spirituality
#AmazonPaidLinks
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Stay skeptical? This week’s guest is Thom Krystofiak, the author of Tempted to Believe: The Seductive Power of Claims About “The Truth.”

Thom grew up Catholic but as an adult began practicing Transcendental Meditation. He followed gurus and groups for decades but was never quite convinced of the more spectacular claims of TM. 

Thom shares about his experiences in the TM movement and what pushed him out. He also discusses important questions people, regardless of their belief or skepticism, could ask themselves: What do I mean by truth? How do I find the truth? And how much does truth really matter? 

Quotes

I am, by nature, a skeptical man. My skepticism shows no signs of
mellowing, but grows sharper and deeper with time. And yet I have spent my life surrounded by believers.

[Is it] better to be fooled many times than to be a skeptical man[?]

Am I missing something?

“Why is that I’m not susceptible to any of the beliefs the people around me hold…”

“[Flying] wasn’t happening yet for us as individuals, but maybe if we put three thousand people together in one place…maybe that’ll be something!” 

“…the rise of fake news and alternative facts and the more bizarre conspiracy theories…all of these things are based on beliefs and they’re based on beliefs that do not have evidence…’”

“Some of our greatest societal challenges…resonate with these same principles: How much does the truth matter, what do you mean by the truth and how do you find the truth?”

“It’s not just a matter of, ‘Do you accept evidence at all as a valid way of finding out what’s true?’…it becomes a much more difficult task of sifting through competing versions of evidence.”

“Some people have given—either themselves or others—the license to make things up…”

Links

Thom’s personal site
https://krystofiak.com/

#AmazonPaidLinks

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Doug Traversa: Atheist Minister

Atheism, Authors, Deconversion, Dones, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Grace
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Doug. Doug became interested in church when he was in junior high, and when Doug is in, he’s all in. 

He was a believer throughout high school, college and into the military. But then books and magazines happened. Doug began reading more “skeptical literature,” and the questions began. 

Doug’s faith unraveled while he was “an atheist in a foxhole,” but faith in the supernatural was unnecessary. He needed his own strength, and the strength of the people around him.  

He has since been an atheist pastor, finding the human connection he and his wife needed, without changing their beliefs or forsaking their values. As Brene Brown says, “We are hardwired to connect with others,” and Christianity has no longer cornered the marked on community and belonging. 

Quotes

“When I was twelve, I decided to get serious about my eternal destiny”

“So I began asking harder questions at church, and I soon encountered a pattern I would see again and again as we visited different churches. Once my questions became too difficult (or too annoying), I was told I just had to have faith.”

“I left God behind, at least the version taught in the Bible. I would now be unapologetically atheistic.”

“I deployed for a year…and that was my ‘atheist in a foxhole’ moment. … we were convinced at least some of us were going to die, and I was thoroughly convinced in my mind at that point that this was my last full day on earth. … At no point did I pray, acknowledge God, feel slightly drawn to God…I was perfectly good with: There is no god, and I might die tomorrow. We’ll just see what happens.”

“People have often asked me why I left the faith, and I tell them, ‘It’s because I studied the Bible.’”

“It was my reading of skeptical magazines and literature that gave me the freedom to look at the Bible in a new light, but it was the actual Bible itself that condemned itself.”

“All I can say is I’ve been extremely happy not having to believe in God, not having to worry about saving other people.”

“Having left behind a church that demanded faith, I found a most unexpected church that reveres rational thought and welcomes atheists. Amazing. Having sworn to never set foot in a church again, I find that the universe loves to throw curveballs. To quote Douglas Adams, “In an infinite universe, anything is possible.””

“When you’re taking care of someone else, you’re not thinking about yourself.”

Links

Unitarian Universalist Church of Tullahoma
tullahomauu.org

Doug’s Short story “The Faith I Left Behind” is in the book, The Sandbox

#AmazonPaidLinks

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Cooper: Deconstruction of a Mother

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, Podcast, Purity Culture
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Cooper. Cooper grew up deeply immersed in church world. From a young age, she was devoted to God and obedient to her family. In high school, life threw her a curve ball, but she continued faithfully loving Jesus and doing what she believed to be best. 

Parenthood, marriage, church life and military life all, in different ways, knocked her feet out from beneath her. Every year it seemed like something was more difficult, more uncertain, and the church didn’t stepping up with the support she needed.

After years of questions without satisfying answers, Cooper finds herself a woman—more than just a wife and mom—with options and freedom to choose her own life. She may not have the answers to every question, but she’s okay with that. She and her children keep moving forward, empowered now to love one another without sacrificing themselves.

Quotes 

“Looking back…I was so broken, and I thought that should be celebrated.”

“It was…‘Any of your natural instincts? Completely disregard them because they’re sinful, especially because you’re female.’”

“I thought anytime anything would go wrong in my life, it was punishment.”

“I had been told, ‘If you walk in these ways, God is going to bless your life, so I just thought we were immune to everything.”

“Our story is like Jesus or Jerry Springer, depending on your view of the world.”

“I was like, ‘No more God. No more church…I need a break’”

“There isn’t this male entity that’s just waiting for me to mess up and show me why I should have done it his way.”

“I definitely want to raise my kids with…altruism, empathy and genuine love for people but also knowing that they don’t have to take crap from people.”

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Jack: Emily’s Story

Atheism, Deconversion, Podcast, Podcasters, Religious Trauma, Secular Grace, secular grief
Emily, Jack and Duncan

Content Warning: graphic wound details, surgical processes, PTSD, emotional trauma, religious trauma and dark humor.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Jack Robertson. Jack is a returning guest and an integral part of the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group. Earlier this year, Jack’s youngest daughter, Emily, was in an accident, suffering severe burns on her body.

Jack explains how his online community and IRL friends stepped in to support his family but also recounts the platitudes and clichés given by the Christians in their lives. 

Emily’s clearheadedness, dark sense of humor and incredible resilience has brought her a long way in the healing process—mentally, physically and emotionally. Jack and the rest of their family are also healing in their own ways, supporting one another and seeking professional help. 

We are Human. We are social beings whose needs are not met by “a guy in the sky.” Our needs are met through our relationships with one another, especially those who are closest to us. 

Quotes

“It is heart wrenching to see someone you love go through that much pain…[and] there’s not anything else that you can do, other than hold their hand.”

“Do NOT, while people are still in ICU or a burn unit…message them and say, ‘You know? God only gives you what you can handle.’” 

“If I have to be caught on fire, so you can look super to heal me, I want nothing to do with you.” —Emily

“You’re going to have to talk to a professional…You can get through it, no matter how difficult it seems in that moment…”

“You don’t need the clutching of a Bible or a rosary. You don’t need that. You and your family are what are going to get you through it. Not some guy in the sky…Talk to a professional.”

“I’m going to make the fire my Bitch.”—Emily

Links

Go Fund Me
https://gofund.me/bba4d01e

Jack’s Deconversion episode
https://gracefulatheist.com/2021/10/31/jack-robertson-deconversion-story/

Kenyetta and Jack Save the World
https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/kenyetta-jack-save-the-world-4099553
Graceful Atheist on Kenetta and Jack Save the World
https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/kenyetta-jack-save-the-world-4099553/episodes/the-abcs-of-grace-127398471

Musings of an ADD Mind
https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/musings-of-an-add-mind-2160439

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Jan: Mental Health and Deconstruction

Adverse Religious Experiences, Deconstruction, Dones, ExVangelical, Missionary, Podcast, Religious Trauma
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts

Content Warning: This week’s story includes references to physical and emotional abuse, mental illness and suicidal ideation. Listener discretion is advised.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Jan. Jan grew up in a strict fundamentalist household but attended a loving church. That disconnect planted the first seeds of doubt. 

She went off to a Christian university where she was told to expect “signs and wonders”, but they didn’t happen. Becoming a missionary wife was supposed to satisfy her “need to serve God” but it didn’t happen. Again and again, as she pursued God, she was let down.

Trauma, depression and unfulfilled promises slowly broke her, and even then, God didn’t show up. She had been doing it all on her own, and it would take a divorce and leaving the Church completely, for her to see that.

After finding care and support in therapy and “spiritual but not religious” communities, Jan now supports others struggling with mental illness. She is living a life filled with grace both for herself and others. 

Banksy: London. There is always hope

Quotes

“I just kept believing it, because that’s the subtly of brainwashing…even though it has positive aspects, the problem is you’re not getting any other influences, not developing any critical thinking skills.”

“I kept putting doubts on the shelf…but the shelf kept getting heavier.”

“…[thinking] ‘Wow, something’s wrong with me. Nobody else is talking about [depression], so I must be the only one.’ That’s a hallmark for problems in mental health, when you think you’re the only one.”

“I got divorced and left the church. It was like jumping off a cliff with no parachute.”

“One of my quests is to just have adventure and have fun.”

“Find a compassionate person. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable…know that it is not hopeless, you have choices and there are people waiting to point you in the right direction…”

Links

National Association on Mental Illness
https://www.nami.org/Home

Secular Therapy Project
https://www.seculartherapy.org/

Recovering From Religion
https://www.recoveringfromreligion.org/

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Matt: Deconversion of a Missionary

Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Dones, ExVangelical, Missionary, Podcast, Secular Community
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Matthew. Matthew grew up in the Pentacostal tradition and went from being a youth leader in high school to a full-time international missionary as an adult. He had all the right answers to all the important questions. 

The missionary life, however, didn’t turn out as he’d expected. He and his team did everything in their power to tell people about Jesus but nothing supernatural was happening. Year after year, “the hiddenness of God” became too much for Matthew. 

It hasn’t been easy for Matthew to arrive where he is now—living a freer life, not having to have all the answers, not having to wait for the supernatural to happen. He loves the people closest to him, enjoys his friends and acquaintances without judgment, and those small things are what can slowly change the world.

Tweet-worth Quotes

“For a long time, I was doing mental gymnastics to make things work…”

“I was asking everybody, ‘How do you know?!’ And all of the answers were so unsatisfying.” 

“I’m trying really hard [to communicate clearly with my kids] and I’m not able. But God, by definition, is able but doesn’t seem to be trying very hard.” 

Recommendations

YouTube

Religion for Breakfast
https://www.youtube.com/c/ReligionForBreakfast

Digital Hammurabi
https://www.youtube.com/c/DigitalHammurabi

Esoterica
https://www.youtube.com/c/ESOTERICAchannel

Paulogia
https://www.youtube.com/c/Paulogia

Organizations

The Clergy Project
https://clergyproject.org/

Books

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Drew: Community and Consciousness

Deconstruction, ExVangelical, Podcast, Secular Community
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Drew. Drew grew up as a Missionary Kid and has traveled to nearly every continent and all across the United States. Drew spent years of his life evangelizing and serving others through construction, farming and carpentry. 

Drew has since left mainstream evangelicalism, with its exclusivity and supremacy culture, but he is still using the tools he developed. He and his family serve their local community right in the Bible Belt with a market, concerts, a community center and so much more!

Humans don’t need a supernatural being to come to our rescue. We need one another. We need each other’s abilities and companionship. Drew and his family are changing the future by building intentional community right where they are.  

Quotes

“Everybody who doesn’t know Christ is going to hell? That didn’t sit right with me from a very early age…”

“I was growing more and more uncertain about my certainty.”

“Here was someone I knew…and here they’d had this radical transformation that didn’t involve Jesus at all.”

“I had a lot of hope for this [Christian community], that they were a group of people who had avoided the exclusivist issues within Christianity and were able to do the ‘love your neighbor’ thing.”

“…supremacy thinking is endemic. It’s part of the whole thing.”

“This gigantic ship of Christianity—it’s going down. You can rearrange the deck chairs, but it’s sinking.”

Recommendations

  • Rumi
  • Hafiz
  • Voices of Deconversion Podcast

Links

NOTE: Not an endorsement

The Perch
https://www.theperchcomer.com/

Rupert Spira Podcast Episode 47: The Weekend University
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/rupert-spira-podcast/id1494564673?i=1000571203239

Interact

Graceful Atheist YouTube Channel
https://www.youtube.com/c/GracefulAtheist

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Adria: Racism in the missionary field

Atheism, Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Race
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Adria. Adria is a sociologist working in international development. Adria grew up in various multiethnic churches but each one seemed to worship whiteness more than Jesus. By the end of college, Adria was done. Years later, in atheist spaces, she would find racism to be just as prevalent. 

Her experience with the Christian missionaries showed her the inequity that must exist for missionary work to thrive. In the last decade she has since seen that Western nations continue missionary work; only as evangelists for “neoliberal economic systems” rather than the gospel.

Adria’s understanding of supremacy culture’s effects on humanity is invaluable to any community—church, atheist or global—working toward a more equitable world. She truly is a model of graceful atheism. 

We discuss international development, missionary work, economics, equity, racism, atheism, black non-believers and much more.

Recommendations

Organizations

Black Non-Believers
https://blacknonbelievers.org/

Books

Black Non-believing authors
https://the-orbit.net/blackskeptics/2012/09/11/books-by-black-atheists/

Tweet-Worthy Quotes

“The same reason that white women have less money than white men is the reason why black people have less money than white people. It is the system created for whiteness and white maleness.”

“We were really evangelists for this neoliberal economic system.”

“…my ascent into atheism.”

“It would mean seeing other countries, other entities, as equal, and that’s not the case right now.”

“…equity: Everyone does not get the same things because everybody does not have the same endowments.”

“I went to general atheist events…it was amusing but it definitely wasn’t welcoming.”

“That [evangelism] turned me off. Imagine how much what I do turns other people off.”

“The Church is just the world. It’s just people.”

Interact

Catch me on former guest, Robert People’s, Affinis Humanity, Instagram live Thursday August 4th at 5 PM EDT
https://www.instagram.com/affinishumanity/

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Photo By James Barry – http://www.treaty2u.govt.nz/images/impact-main-1.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12666818

Jenny McGrath: Embodied Sexuality

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Podcast, Purity Culture
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

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! 

Tweet-Worthy Quotes

“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.”

Links

Counseling website
https://www.indwellcounseling.com/

Embodied Sexuality Course
https://www.indwellmovement.com/embodied-sexuality

Purity Culture Research Collective
https://puritycultureresearchcollective.com/

Recommendations

Podcasts

Straight White American Jesus podcast
https://straightwhiteamericanjesus.com/

Books

The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti

Virgin Nation by Sara Moslener

Shameless by Nadia Bolz Weber (progressive Christian perspective)

#AmzonPaidLinks

Interact

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Deconstruction
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/#deconstruction

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats