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

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

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

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

Arline Interviews B

Agnosticism, Autonomy, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, Podcast, Purity Culture, Secular Community
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is B. B grew up homeschooled in a large evangelical household and spent nearly thirty years in the church, determined to fit in.  He felt like leaving for a while, never having belonged, and then in 2016, he knew it was the end for him. He hit the door running. 

One of the most destructive forces within his Christian upbringing was Purity Culture. Since deconverting, he’s learned that he isn’t alone when it comes to loving yourself and exerting your autonomy. B’s story is one of great evolution and freedom.

Tweet-Worthy Quotes

“…I thought, It’s real to everyone around me. It should be real to me. I need to keep trying. If it’s not real to me, then something’s wrong with me.

“I had been edging towards the door, and 2016 got me walking full-speed towards the door.”

“…consciously making that choice to say, ‘I’m not going back. I’m done.’…it was the biggest relief.”

“Now I feel free not to care. Is there a god? I don’t know, but more importantly to me, I don’t really care.”

“I sat down and looked at that picture and thought, I really like this picture. That was a whole new feeling. I had never felt that way.”

Podcast Recommendation

Go Home, Bible. You’re Drunk
https://www.irreverent.fm/show/go-home-bible-youre-drunk/

Links

B’s Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/happyinmyownskin/

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

Deb is Done

Agnosticism, Autonomy, Deconstruction, Dones, ExVangelical, Podcast, Purity Culture, Spirituality
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Deb. Deb “asked Jesus into her heart” at six years old and remained a devoted follower of Jesus for decades. She married her high school sweetheart, started a family and found herself living the missionary life on the continent of Africa.

As the years passed, Deb’s faith was tested—praying and watching children die on two continents, her husband pointlessly fired from their church, meeting different types of Christians and the reading of diverse books. Deb had more and more questions about her lifelong faith.

Today, Deb’s spirituality is one that stays curious and open to new thing, no longer holding tightly to any one creed. Her story is a beautiful one filled with compassion and love and a desire to meet people wherever they are. She is truly living out secular grace. 

Deb’s husband, Paul, tells his story.
https://gracefulatheist.com/2022/07/03/paul-is-done/

Tweet-worthy quotes

“I just knew the more we prayed, the likelihood of God answering was higher.”

“That’s what we needed. We needed to get kicked out of the church to begin being more honest with our doubts and our questions.”

“After sixty years of feeling like I have to go [to church] every time the doors are open, it was just amazing—the release that was!”

“…it’s so important to be curious and to be a lifelong learner. That’s my purpose for living, to just be a learner.”

“I want to be a lifelong learner. I’m seventy-one. I want to learn. I want to be teachable…and curious. That’s really my desire for the last years of my life.”

Recommendations

Podcasts
Youtube

Tara Brach’s guided meditations

Books

Brian McLaren’s Books

#PaidAmazonLinks

Brian McLaren’s 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

Elizabeth: Deconversion Anonymous

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Podcast, Quiver Full
Elizabeth
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

This week’s guest is Elizabeth. Elizabeth grew up in what she calls a “Methodist Baptist” church, mostly Methodist but with more conservatism and even some charisma thrown in. 

Elizabeth loved church as a kid, but as a teen, things were harder: purity culture demands, a youth pastor leaving abruptly and even a camp with exorcisms. Looking back, Elizabeth sees a theme: The parents did little to help the kids feel and be safe. 

After graduation, Elizabeth went to a Baptist college where she met (again!) and married her now-husband. When adversity hit, trying to expand their family, they saw their Christian friends’ true colors. 

“People can be really, really cruel when they’re just saying what they’ve been taught. They’re not thinking about the flip side of what they’re saying.”

Throughout a difficult pregnancy, crying out to God, Elizabeth thought, No one is listening and no one is coming to save me. She continued hoping, though, only to be let down again and again. Church people will not support you and no god is coming to save you. 

“It feels like I spent my whole life pushing a really heavy dresser down a hallway…and everybody around me is saying, ‘You can do it because your best friend is on the other side holding it…’ 

Elizabeth sees that it was here. She was the strong and resilient one all along. She bore the load, the emotional, physical and mental weight. No one—neither supernatural or human—showed up to help. 

“When there was one set of footprints they were mine.”

Now, on the other side of faith, Elizabeth has her immediate family and a strong community of friends, diverse people walking alongside her. She no longer looks to the sky for help, but knows she has all she needs inside her and right around her. 

My analogy is that I’ve been carrying a tall, heavy piece of furniture my whole life, and all that time everyone around me has been telling me that my best friend is on the other end helping me. When I’ve asked to see that friend, they’ve said I just need to trust that he’s there, of course he is, because I wouldn’t be able to carry the load if he wasn’t. When I asked him to talk to me, I didn’t hear anything, but convinced myself that of course he was there. When I finally decided to set down the load and see for myself, I discovered that I’d actually been carrying it on my own the whole time, and that I’ve always been stronger than I gave myself credit for.

Interact

Review: Hell is the absence of God
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/06/04/review-hell-is-the-absence-of-god/

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

Anne: Deconversion Anonymous

Adverse Religious Experiences, Artists, Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Dones, ExVangelical, Podcast, Religious Abuse, The Bubble
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

This week’s guest is Anne. Anne grew up in a loving and happy Christian home in a large city where her father pastored a small reformed church.

“We were cloistered as this little wonderful diverse congregation.”

As a teen, her faith was very real to her, and a few years later, she attended a Christian college, but struggled mentally and physically. 

“I was trying to figure out what made me a christian aside from the fact that…I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke, I didn’t blah blah blah.”

Anne left that school and attended a Bible college, but she quickly realized she would be excluded from most ministry opportunities because of her gender.

“I thought, ‘You know? What is out there for me?’”

After a short and sometimes insulting experience in children’s ministry and then a sickness that went on for man years, Anne felt like God had “benched” her, but she continued praying and hoping.

“I was such a magical thinker…”

Over the next many years, Anne’s family met one obstacle after another—toxic or cult-like churches, physical and mental illnesses, Christians backing Trump and even loved ones passing away. Finally, she couldn’t take any more.

“I couldn’t hear from God…I couldn’t worship. I couldn’t hypnotize myself with the piano. I couldn’t do anything…[I was] done.”

Then during the Pandemic, Anne read a single book that made her stop and think for a moment. Then, her questions started coming and couldn’t be stopped. From the outside, it may seem like Anne’s deconversion was quick, but she had given God plenty of time to reveal himself. 

Recommendations

Books 

Jesus & John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez
https://amzn.to/388uqxl

#AmazonPaidLinks

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

Ursula Schneider: Leader, Seeker, Artist, Woman

Artists, Autonomy, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is artist Ursula Schneider. As a child, neither her charismatic church nor her unstable home were safe for her. There was a lot of mental illness at home and Ursula often felt abandoned by the church. Their family was simply “too much.” 

“I look back and everything is so clear about why it went the way it went, but as a child you don’t understand…”

Ursula grew up, married young and began going to church again. As an adult, she needed something real to her. She saw that something in the women at church, so she dove right in—daily prayer, bible studies, women’s retreats, all of it.

“I guess what I believed was that, if I did enough of the things that I was being told to do, the feeling would follow…”

But Ursula kept bumping up against a certain church doctrine: women cannot teach men. She was a gifted leader and teacher but church after church kept her out of the pulpit.

“That is literally what you get told: ‘You’re listening to the doctrine of demons if you think it’s okay for you as a woman to be able to teach men.’”

At the last church she attended, Ursula faced the greatest challenge yet to her faith. Over the span of a few months, she and her husband went from being well-respected leaders to losing their entire community.  

Ursula went through a depressive state and cried out to God, but no answer came. Over the next few years, Ursula would make beautiful art, write for herself and continue to question her religious beliefs.

“What happens when you start to question some of these closely held doctrines…is that things really do start to unravel.”

Since leaving, Ursula has dabbled in other faiths, wondering if any will fit her. Nothing has yet, but she is learning and growing as a whole person. She no longer has to squash part of herself or silence her own curiosity. 

“…as I go through life, and I try on new ideas, each of them has something to offer me that’s valuable.”

Ursula’s art and writing empower others to exist as their whole selves in the world and to see beauty and inspiration in the world around them. 

Ursula Schneider art exhibition through May 25th 2022, at D&R Art Gallery and Studio in Tucson, AZ.

My story is, I suppose, the story of a sincere seeker who, it turns out, is actually a huge threat to the organization of the church structure. Silly me, I thought the church was the place to be a seeker, but it turns out that they don’t want seekers, they want adherents. I was never a very good adherent in hindsight. But I gave my whole life to the church because I misunderstood that reality and in return, the church did its level best to silence me completely.

Links

Website
https://www.ursulaschneider.art/

Personal FaceBook
https://www.facebook.com/ursula.d.schneider/

Business facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/ursulaschneiderart

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/ursula_schneider_art/

People can also email me at ursulaschneiderart@gmail.com

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

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Andrew Pledger: Religious Trauma Awareness

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Trauma
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

CW Mental health and depression

This week’s guest is Andrew Pledger. Andrew has spent nearly his entire life in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church—where the KJV rules and women do not. 

Andrew was homeschooled K-12 with a mildly white Christian nationalist curriculum, no sex education and no diverse friendships.

“If you’re not subjected to different worldviews and ideas, how can you even think critically about your own?”

For years, Andrew’s mental health suffered, but there were no resources for him. He was told that he wasn’t “reading the Bible enough” and “needed to get closer to God.”

“I was very emotionally dependent on those religious rituals…bible reading, praying, confessing…it has that emotional release because you believe that it’s really doing something.”

In college, Andrew knew he needed professional help but at a fundamentalist Christian college, there was only “biblical counseling”. The first two years were excruciating. Eventually, however, with a little community and a lot of research, Andrew took his mental health into his own hands. 

“It was really the first time I started listening to…and trusting myself.”

He started asking difficult questions about the Bible, and it was not long before the foundations began to crumble. 

“Is the Bible actually inerrant? Is it perfect? Are the stories original? Is this really inspired by God?”

Since leaving Christianity, Andrew has lived out secular grace. He is spreading awareness about toxic religion and working toward becoming a religious trauma therapist. His personal experience of freedom compels him to help others find the same freedom. 

“Trauma is a horrible cycle that needs to be stopped. We really need to do what we can…”

Links

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/4ndrewpledger/

Josh Harris Interview
https://www.instagram.com/tv/Ca–9vFAxqs/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

Photo Series
https://www.instagram.com/4ndrewpledger/guide/religious-trauma-photo-series/17999363926411608/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

Website
https://4ndrewpledger.mypixieset.com

Link aggregator
https://liinks.co/4ndrewpledger

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