Eli: Transition and Deconstruction

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Religious Abuse, Secular Grace, secular grief
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Eli Fuhrmler-Wheeler. Eli grew up going to Awanas at an Evangelical Free church. Eventually, he attended an Assemblies of God church and spoke in tongues. His parents forbade him from going to that church and “of course I felt they were keeping me from the gates of heaven and pulling me into hell.”

Eli’s childhood was traumatic in many ways. He experienced sexual abuse, neglect, his mom was very sick her whole life, her boyfriends were abusive, his father had an antisocial personality disorder, and he lived on and off in foster homes.

Eli sought the comfort of drugs and alcohol. He discovered he was a lesbian. He was told he was going to hell by his family.

As an adult he began a relationship with his now wife. At 30 he realized he was a man and began transition. Eli has faced rejection by family and some friends. However, his gracefulness through it all has won some of them over.

[Rather than show grace, why not be angry at those who have not shown you grace?]
That wouldn’t teach anybody anything.
It wouldn’t teach me anything and it wouldn’t teach them anything.

Eli deconstructed from Christianity through the years. He has explored various world religions including Norse Heathenry and various mystic traditions.

Transition and therapy have given Eli the wholeness he deserves. Eli and his wife show unconditional love for one another. This is the relationship that Eli has experienced grace for himself.

Links

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

Religious Trauma Institute
https://www.religioustraumainstitute.com/

Interact

Thank you for nominating the podcast for the People’s Choice award in the Religion and Spirituality category
https://www.podcastawards.com/

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

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Geoffrey Wallis: A Voice From Inside

Adverse Religious Experiences, Authors, Book Review, Captive Organization, Deconstruction, Deconversion, High Demand Religious Group, Jehovah's Witnesses, Podcast, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma, The Bubble
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Geoffrey Wallis, author of A Voice From Inside: Notes on Religious Trauma in a Captive Organization. Geoffrey is Physically In but Mentally Out (PIMO) of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. After recognizing the religious trauma and the cognitive dissonance he was experiencing he found help through therapy. He remains within the Watchtower organization because it is a “captive organization” which enforces shunning by family members and friends.

Geoffrey’s book, A Voice From Inside: Notes on Religious Trauma in a Captive Organization, is an evenhanded look at life inside a High Demand Religious Group. Geoffrey shows Secular Grace in his documenting his personal experience. It is incredibly well written and interesting to read.

Links

A Voice From Inside: Notes on Religious Trauma in a Captive Organization
https://amzn.to/3BRvmjv

Website
https://www.wallisbooks.com/

I Got Out
http://www.igotout.org/

Interact

Nominate and Vote for the Graceful Atheist Podcast on the Podcast Awards
https://www.podcastawards.com/app/nominations

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

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

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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Vanessa: Post-Traumatic Church Disorder

Adverse Religious Experiences, Agnosticism, Atheism, Deconstruction, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Philosophy, Podcast, Religious Trauma
Listen on Apple Podcasts

One of the most difficult things about deconstruction, deconversion, etc. is feeling alone. It’s terrifying not only to go through a full blown metaphysical and existential crisis, but to do so knowing that the people who are supposed to love you the most can’t or won’t accept you as they once did. 

My guest this week is Vanessa. She describes herself as “born into a large family of fire and brimstone preaching, bible beating, in-tongues-speaking Christians in the Pentecostal Church of God faith tradition.” Her father, her grandfather, and her great grandfather all were pastors of her home church.

My full break from faith came in the form of rage when it hit me that I’d never had parents – I’d only had pastors.

She began to doubt at a fairly young age and discovered she no longer believed in god in her college years.

As a non-believer she married her believing husband. Recently being unequally yoked has become a discussion point as they negotiate how to raise their daughter. Vanessa is grateful she can be present for her daughter in a way she did not receive when she was young.

We discuss unequally yoked marriage, secular parenting and post-traumatic church syndrome.

Interact

Nominate and vote for the podcast
https://www.podcastawards.com/app/nominations

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

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

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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

Additional music
Dakar Flow – Carmen María and Edu Espinal

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Brette: Deconversion Anonymous

Adverse Religious Experiences, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Podcast, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Brette. Brette was so serious about her Christianity in junior high her goal was martyrdom. In her young adulthood, she followed her pastor’s advice and attended Master’s Commission, similar to a discipleship training program. Her experience there was nothing short of psychological torture.

Of course, everything was always very spiritualized there and this was no exception. Everything was either god or demons. One part of the program was that we all we went through deliverance (exorcism) while we were there that we spent weeks preparing for.

Her faith began breaking down as did her physical and psychological health at Master’s Commission. It included deliverance sessions and enumerating her demons. It wasn’t until she saw her younger brother being treated poorly that she began to question. She and her brother left: “leaving was the BEST feeling!”

But I had finally given myself permission to question things and it all unraveled pretty quickly from there.

After a brief stint in “spiritual but not religious” land, she finally admitted she no longer believed in god. She let go of “trying to make it be true.”

Since then it’s been really interesting to me to look back on my past experiences and understand them from a purely naturalistic and psychological perspective. It was really helpful to learn, too, about Religious Trauma Syndrome.

Brette has since discovered naturalistic and psychological explanations of her experiences that have given her more closure and comfort.

Interact

Interact

Sam (When Belief Dies) GoFundMe for a laptop
https://gofund.me/9bed67a7

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

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

Support the podcast
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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

Picture by Brette’s daughter A.

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Bonus: Janice Selbie and Conference on Religious Trauma 2021

Adverse Religious Experiences, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Janice Selbie on the Conference on Religious Trauma (CORT)

The Conference on Religious Trauma
(#CORT) online
May 11 to 16, 2021

Links

Conference on Religious Trauma
https://pheedloop.com/CORT/site/home/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/cometocort

Face Book
https://www.facebook.com/ConferenceOnReligiousTrauma

Godless Moms Podcast
https://www.godlessmom.com/podcast

Friends of the podcast presenting at CORT

Interact

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

Rachael Parsons Svendsen: Deconversion not so Anonymous

Adverse Religious Experiences, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Philosophy, Podcast, Religious Trauma, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion not so Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Rachael Parsons Svendsen. Rachael is a Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor at RCPS Therapy. Rachael became a Christian at three years old. She went to Biola University and studied philosophy. Later in life she experience the effects of Religious Trauma: just setting foot in a Church she would break down in tears.

Honesty is an important value for Rachael and part of what led her to deconversion. She talks about the difficulty of relationships with believers in her life while attempting to maintain honesty.

Rachael and I investigate the experience of cognitive dissonance and religious trauma. We discuss the importance of the Easter story to Western thought, what is like to parent post-deconversion and the loss of the (false) sense of control after deconversion when difficult life events occur.

Rachael points out that she does not have it all together post-deconversion. We agree we are all winging it.

Links

RCPS Therapy
https://rcpstherapy.com/

Small Words Big Stories
https://www.instagram.com/smallwords_bigstories/

Interact

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

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/secular-grace/

Adverse Religious Experiences
https://gracefulatheist.com/category/adverse-religious-experiences/

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Promos

Religion Shouldn’t Hurt
https://www.instagram.com/religion.shouldnt.hurt/

Conference on Religious Trauma
https://pheedloop.com/CORT/site/home/

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Anna Hummel: YWAM, DTS and Deconversion

Adverse Religious Experiences, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Podcast, Religious Trauma, Secular Grace
You are not alone
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Anna Hummel. Anna became a Christian at 16 after growing up in a nominal culturally German Christian home. She was attracted to the community, the love of the people and the sense of belonging. Before long she found herself at a Youth With A Mission Discipleship Training School where things were a bit more intense.

At DTS Anna began to have Adverse Religious Experiences. The cumulative stress and lack of privacy began to wear on her. She had trauma around the fear of Hell both for her loved ones and for herself. It was not until she got home and experienced the Secular Grace of her non-Christian friends, that she recognized the harm she was experiencing and the loss of her normally care-free attitude.

If someone is on a deconversion journey, I really hope that you can let go of that shame. Because it is really hard in the beginning to forgive yourself. We are always so hard on ourselves and just accepting that you made a mistake can be hard but it really is very important.

Today Anna has compassion, understanding and Secular Grace for those who succumb to the peer pressure of conformity to the group. She wants people to experience the freedom from religious trauma that she now thrives in.

Links

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

Religious Trauma Institute
https://www.religioustraumainstitute.com/

Interact

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

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/secular-grace/

You are not broken, you are human
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/12/06/you-are-not-broken-you-are-human/

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Attribution

“You Are Not Alone” image
Anna Hummel

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

CG: African Polymath

Adverse Religious Experiences, Agnosticism, Atheism, Autonomy, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Humanism, Podcast, Purity Culture, Race, Religious Trauma
CG sculpture
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

CG grew up in strict religious home in Nigeria, where everything was banned except Christian media. His family was heavily influenced by the Pentecostal Word-Of-Faith/Prosperity movement. CG attended a tyrannical, authoritarian, and punitive college in Nigeria.

CG, later on, moved to London, UK. In London, he saw that the world was bigger than the Christian bubble that he had been raised in his whole life. He attended a popular charismatic church where he met people from different cultures, beliefs, and denominations. However, some of his friends challenged his Word-Of-Faith/Prosperity beliefs. He started theological beliefs started changing as a result.

CG, subsequently, moved to the USA to get a graduate degree at a Christian college. He lived in the American south where, as an immigrant, he felt isolated and disconnected from the Christian culture around him. This drove him to a personal intellectual journey, where he spent hours reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching videos.

After graduating with his master’s degree, CG came to the point where he could not ignore the damage that Christianity was inflicting on his mental health and personal development. He realised that he had to choose between completely losing his sanity & freedom by remaining a slave to religion or abandoning his beliefs and accepting his freedom/autonomy. A few days later, he became an Agnostic, and, subsequently, an Atheist.

CG has been on the path of freedom, healing, and recovery ever since. He is deconstructing sexual shame, self-hatred, misogyny, white supremacy, colonization, and western imperialism (and other forms of injustice). He also seeks to heal the havoc that religion
has inflicted in Nigeria (and other African countries) through evangelism, cultural imperialism, and colonization. Religion, significantly, contributes to the apathy and passivity of Nigerians, which prevents them from fighting for their freedom and justice.

CG is very passionate about humanism. He believes humanism is what our generation needs to help make the world (especially Africa) a better place. He is an existential humanist, a cosmopolitan humanist, and a planetary humanist. He believes that humanists need to have freedom (autonomy), humility, compassion, hope, love for learning, curiosity, and open-mindedness.

Links

African Polymath Blog
https://africanpolymath.wordpress.com/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/AfricanPolymath

Reading list and resources
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/193EJcKRNIxAftLb6daW9f_blMaJ2QwrQ?usp=sharing

Email
AfricanPolymath@gmail.com 

Interact

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/deconversion/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/secular-grace/

Graceful Atheist Podcast
https://gracefulatheist.com/podcast/

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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Troy Moore-Heart: Y’all Means All

Adverse Religious Experiences, Agnosticism, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma, Secular Community, Secular Grace
Troy Moore-Heart
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Troy Moore-Heart. Troy grew up in an Evangelical family in Texas and described his childhood self as a “true-believing born-again Christian” who was baptized by his father at 6 in his grandmother’s church. Troy experienced religious trauma, the natural childhood fears given the purported reality of a spiritual realm all around him. Later in life, when he acknowledged his sexuality he “fervently believed [he] was going to hell.” When he eventually came out to his family he needed to put up healthy boundaries.

It’s hard to be in relationships with people who think you’re going to Hell.

Troy started to call himself an agnostic and not an atheist for fear of losing his relationship with his family. After marrying as an adult, he came to terms with his religious trauma and anti-queer shame. He discovered secular humanism as “an ideological and moral home.”

We don’t need to believe in any supernatural deity or god
or interventionist all powerful being
to believe that we must be kind and moral.

Today, troy calls himself a progressive humanist, and he is focused on transformative justice. He is becoming a humanist celebrant. He supports projects like the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Y’all Means All and the Trevor Project. Troy also supports the thriving secular therapy community that is growing around trauma-informed therapy, including the Religious Trauma Institute and the Reclamation Collective.

My personal motto is:
Do no harm but take no shit
and work for peace and justice.
For me that is humanism.

Troy requests that you consider signing the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Y’all Means All” pledge. “It’s become a galvanizing slogan to promote LGBTQ inclusion and advocacy in rural Southern communities.”

Links

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/troy.moore.heart/

Y’all Means All
http://www.yallmeansall.com

The Trevor Project
https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Religious Trauma Institute
https://www.religioustraumainstitute.com/

Reclamation Collective
https://www.reclamationcollective.com/

American Humanist Association
https://americanhumanist.org/

Interact

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

Interview with Brian Peck
https://gracefulatheist.com/2019/11/14/brian-peck-room-to-thrive/

Interview with Sasha Sagan
https://gracefulatheist.com/2020/02/06/sasha-sagan-for-small-creatures-such-as-we/

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Alice Greczyn: Wayward – Spiritual Warfare & Sexual Purity

Adverse Religious Experiences, Authors, Bloggers, Book Review, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My returning guest this week is Alice Greczyn. Alice has written a new memoir called Wayward: Spiritual Warfare & Sexual Purity. In it, Alice tells the harrowing story of growing up in an Evangelical family that attempted to live by faith. They moved from place to place believing the “Lord would provide.” Alice describes it as being “homeless.”

Alice came of age under the oppressive sexual and purity mores of the “Kiss Dating Goodbye” era. She tells the story of being shamed while on a YWAM mission trip to India for being “flirty.”

And that’s I think the greatest mind f*** of Christianity as a whole: these awful feelings are called love. They’re done in the name of love. My wires of love and shame and fear and guilt and self hatred were so crossed and it took me years to even see that wiring.

As an adult in her 20s, in a desperate but final act of faith, Alice tests God. God fails. And Alice begins the difficult process of letting go of faith. This is a dark time of panic attacks, depression and self-harm.

When we’re told God is love, and love feels like this horrible, self-hating guilt complex, what is love, how can we recognize good love?

With the help of secular therapy and the discovery of the term, Religious Trauma Syndrome, Alice began her recovery process. She studied the science of faith, neurotheology, and began to understand herself and those around her who still believed. In this new freedom, she rebuilt her life reclaiming her autonomy and discovering what real love feels like.

And again it [understanding neurotheology] alleviated the pressure. God wasn’t ignoring me. There was nothing wrong with me. I wasn’t broken. I wasn’t this chronic sinner who was just born defective and unable to feel the love of God because I didn’t have enough faith. It’s simply to be a matter of science and that’s how most things are to me.

On top of being an author, Alice is an advocate for those questioning their faith. Her organization, Dare to Doubt, is a resource for those who are no longer satisfied with their faith tradition’s explanations and demands.

Yet this demographic [millennial “Nones”] is also resilient. We are as brave as the martyrs we were raised to be. We are battling the spiritual war we were trained to fight. We’re just not on the side of religion, and believe us—no one is more surprised by this than ourselves. We are condemned, prayed for, and loathed as much as we are feared. But persecution was once our fuel. Our skin is thick with the courage to fight for truth as we see it, and where we once saw through dogma-colored glasses, we now see through the lenses of relativity, reason, and the validity of our own experiences. It is easy to dismiss us as bitter. It is understandable to write off our deconversions as desperate attempts at individuation and rebellion. It is compassionate to ask us why we left, instead of praying for us to rejoin.

From Wayward

Links

Wayward: Spiritual Warfare & Sexual Purity

Limited supply of signed copies
https://www.alicegreczyn.com/wayward-limited-signed-copy

Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1632993546/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1632993546&linkCode=as2&tag=gracefula-20&linkId=cce5b264f1fe651344a691f03654a7f5

Twitter
https://twitter.com/alicefood
https://twitter.com/daretodoubt

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/alicegreczyn/
https://www.instagram.com/daretodoubt/

Dare To Doubt
https://www.daretodoubt.org/

Interact

Alice’s first appearance on the Graceful Atheist Podcast
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/alice-greczyn-dare-to-doubt/

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

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats