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/

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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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Luke Janssen: Recovering Evangelicals

Agnosticism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, Philosophy, Podcast, Podcasters
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Luke J. Janssen, M.Sc., Ph.D., M.T.S., Professor Emeritus, Dept. Medicine, McMaster University, and co-host of the Recovering Evangelicals podcast. He is a scientist in medical research. During a faith crisis he began taking courses on theology which turned into an M.T.S degree.

I’ve been face-to-face with faith and science my whole life.

Luke tells his story in four 15 year phases: his early years as a nominal Reformed Christian, his young adulthood as a Pentecostal/Charismatic fundamentalist, a desconstruction phase, and where he is now, with a “small part of him that won’t let go” and a belief in a creative force.

It is just that I couldn’t pretend anymore.
I just couldn’t pretend that I was a believer.
I just simply didn’t believe.

Luke and his co-host, Boyd Blundell, cover many aspects of desconstruction on the Recovering Evangelicals podcast. They discuss various apologetic and scientific arguments and honestly reveal what they do an do not believe now and why.

Recovering Evangelicals
… for those who were once very comfortable in their Christian faith until the 21st century intruded and made it very hard to keep on believing;
… for those who are intrigued by science, philosophy, world history, and world religions, and want to rationalize that with their Christian theology;
… for those who found that’s just not possible, and yet there’s still a small part of them that won’t let it go.

Links

Website
https://lukejjanssen.wordpress.com/

Recovering Evangelicals
https://lukejjanssen.wordpress.com/recovering-evangelicals/

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
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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

April Ajoy: Evangelicalish

Comedy, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, Podcast, secular grief, YouTubers
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is April Ajoy, viral Tiktok’r, youTuber and podcaster. She is a “recovering conservative humorously detoxing religion.”

April had a unique childhood. She was homeschooled and spent half of each year in Pentacostal spaces and the other half traveling with her family, singing and evangelizing.

Her parents were evangelists and her grandfather was a pastor of a megachurch, so even as a young person April saw cracks in the traditions and beliefs. She didn’t see them as systemic, though, only random, separate incidents.

“[I was taught] don’t ask too many questions because if you ask too many questions, one day you’re going to wake up and become an atheist and go to hell.”

Over the next decade, tragedy hits April’s family and God does not step in to thwart it, a family member comes out to her and she realizes she cannot continue believing much of what white Christianity has painted as “good news”. 

“I found myself not wanting to be around Christians…not being able to know what parts of my Self I could present until I could figure out what kind of Christian I was dealing with.” 

Today, much of April’s childhood beliefs have been dissected and thrown out, but she is loving others in a much deeper way. She still considers herself a Christian and is fighting injustices in her own creative way.

“Humor is how I cope with trauma.”

On social media, April tackles all the difficult subjects—white supremacy, misogyny, purity culture, the absurd things evangelicals post online and more! She brings levity and fun to serious topics in a way that will make you laugh out and that is good medicine. 

Links

TikTok
https://www.tiktok.com/@aprilajoy

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

Twitter
https://twitter.com/aprilajoyr

Evangelicalish on Youtube
https://www.youtube.com/c/Evangelicalish

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
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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Marla Taviano: Unbelieve

Authors, Autonomy, Book Review, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, Podcast, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Marla Taviano, author of Unbelieve: Poems on the Journey to Becoming a Heretic. Marla grew up in Middle America and moved across the globe and back, searching for God’s will for her life.

She grew up in a loving home and didn’t realize she was in a “white Christian bubble.” Her church was almost all-white, her hometown almost completely white, and then after high school, Marla attended an even smaller completely white, conservative Christian college. 

“I was all-in. [Faith] was all there was to life. That was the focus, the center. My faith was everything to me.”

Marla’s first inkling that something was missing came when she read the book, The Hole in Our Gospel. She had read the Bible many, many times over the years, and here was a new revelation—2,000+ verses about helping the poor?

four-letter words
if you’ve never lived inside / the bubble of
evangelical Christianity it / might surprise you
to find that l-o-v-e / and p-o-o-r were new
and controversial subjects for me / at age 35

From  Unbelieve: Poems on the Journey to Becoming a Heretic

Less than a decade later, while she and her family were part of a multiethnic church plant, Marla began to see more “holes” in Christianity, namely racism and white supremacy. Her eyes were slowly beginning to open.

“Once you start to uncover things, it really is a slippery slope or ‘the unraveling’…It’s all connected. You can’t stop.”

Since 2015, Marla has been back and forth to Cambodia, written a book of poetry, started an incredibly popular bookstagram, been through a painful divorce, connected tons of people to one another and is still sharing her knowledge and wisdom with her followers.

“I feel that there are so many Christians who just go along in their happy little lives and nothing really rattles them, and nothing really happens. So they’re not forced to question things or consider things…”

In her search for truth, Marla asks, “Is this loving to my neighbor?” She may not be certain what her beliefs are right now, but she does believe that love is what will change the world. 

Links

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/marlataviano/
https://www.instagram.com/whitegirllearning/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/marlataviano

Amazon Paid Links

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
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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Meghan Crozier: Prog/Post Christian Deconstruction

Agnosticism, Autonomy, Bloggers, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Podcasters, Purity Culture, Secular Community
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Meghan Crozier, the writer behind The Pursuing Life blog and co-host of Thereafter Podcast. Meghan grew up in an Evangelical Free church and she was “all in”.

“I had my bible on my desk in middle school…so people knew that I was a Christian.”

After high school, Meghan attended a Christian university, signing a pledge to become a missionary. Her life turned out differently, and it took years to be content with that. Now, however, she is extremely thankful she never became a missionary. 

At the beginning 2020, when so much was changing in everyone’s lives, she clung to her faith. She journaled. She prayed for an hour daily and read her bible every morning.

“I don’t know what to do, so I’m going to pray through this. I’m going to try to figure this out.”

As the year progressed, she began to see other aspects of her church that she could not unsee—homophobia, gaslighting, ableism. Then the January 6th insurrection happened, and her church’s response to this disturbing event, Meghan knew she had to reconsider almost everything her life. 

“I’m a Person of Faith…ish.”

Meghan now holds her Christianity very loosely. She’s found community and connection through running half-marathons, social media, and her blog and podcast. Meghan is an important voice in the deconstruction world, influencing people with both the spoken and written word. 

“You have such a window into so many different pieces of faith change and deconstruction and discovering yourself.”

Twitter
https://twitter.com/thepursuinglife
https://twitter.com/thereafterpod

The Pursuing Life
https://www.thepursuinglife.com/

Thereafter Podcast
https://linktr.ee/thereafterpod

Prog/Post Xian Deconstruction Coffee Hour
6 AM PST / 9 AM EST on Twitter Spaces

Book recommendations
https://www.thepursuinglife.com/selfcare/books

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
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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

The Ranting Atheist

Atheism, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Podcast, Podcasters
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is the Nigerian podcaster, The Ranting Atheist. He grew up in a strict Pentacostal church where his parents were ministers. At home, his parents were tough on him and his brothers, and made sure they attended Christian schools, even into university. 

“They did not want me to be derailed, which is quite ironic, saying this now.”

While TRA was in university, following all the rules, his parents parents were rising in the ranks of their church. All was well until “church politics” got them. After that, his parents’ health began to decline, but TRA was still a believer. 

But as years passed and Nigeria suffered an economic recession, TRA’s faith in the Christian God started to wane. 

“Okay. We are majority Christian in the south. They are majority Muslim in the north…Everything is messed up, both in the north and the south…[The] gods we are worshipping? Nothing is working [for either side.]”

Between conversations about the Bible with a friend, Youtuber DarkMatter2525 and a false prophet in his church, many seeds of doubt were planted. 

“I lost all my faith, all my belief, my hope of the future, because looking at this whole religious mindset, people are not living in reality.”

As an atheist, TRA wanted to find a way to assist other Nigerian atheists. His podcast The Ranting Atheist has been the perfect tool.

“It enables me to understand that people arrive at atheism from different routes.”

Every weekend a new episode is released “to let Nigerian atheists know that they are not crazy and they are not alone.” TRA is living out graceful atheism one podcast episode at a time. 

The Ranting Atheist Podcast
https://www.podpage.com/TRAtheist/

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

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

Matt Oxley: Raging Rev

Atheism, Bloggers, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, ExVangelical, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s episode is Matt Oxley. Matt has what he calls a “Bapti-costal” background—mainstream Southern Baptist with “some extra flair and drama.” At six, he was saved, by thirteen he was “hardcore about faith” and by high school, his beliefs were his whole world. However, at nineteen he left church over doctrinal issues, called it a “sabbatical” and took a few years to genuinely examine his convictions.

“The prayer was, ‘I’m willing to give you up to find the truth,’ and ‘you’ was God.”

He knew he had to believe the “cardinal doctrines,” if he was to accept all the other beliefs, but how much could he see was wrong and still ignore it? He was no longer one hundred percent sure he believed in God, much less Christianity, and it didn’t feel like God was doing anything to help him believe.

“I just felt like I was out. I was empty. The faith was gone. I could not refill the tank.”

Eventually he admitted to himself that he was an atheist. At first, he became an “anti-apologist,” spreading a different gospel, but over time he found a balance.

“I find myself as a person with a lot more grace to give today.”

Now that eternal retribution is no longer a possibility, Matt holds his beliefs lightly. He is able to parlay with both Christians and humanists, asking hard questions and stirring up all kinds of discussions—Biblical history, Jesus versus Paul, fundamentalism, capitalism, sexuality, and more. 

“I feel that’s like ninety percent of my social interactions: trying to fool people into representing their faith well.”

Today, Matt’s gospel is love. He no longer believes in a god or in strict dogma, but he is optimistic about the church’s future. He’s influencing it for the better, one kind and hard conversation at a time.

Raging Rev
https://ragingrev.com/

Pastor With No Answers
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/pastor-with-no-answers-and-friends-podcast/id1046402610

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

Judah: Anti-vax, Anti-medicine, Anti-government to Deconverted Medical Student

Atheism, Autonomy, Bloggers, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, High Demand Religious Group, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Religious Abuse, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Judah. Judah grew up “Church of God, Pentecostal adjacent,” where Judah’s father was convinced, “God is alive in these people.” By eight years old, Judah was speaking in tongues and absorbed into eschatology—the study of the end times.

Around ten, at a more “separatist” church, the family started homeschooling. His church and family were convinced they were right and everyone else was wrong. Answers in Genesis was the science curriculum, but Judah was also exposed to science on public television.

“I knew if [the creationism] pillar is knocked out; it’s going to be really hard to recover from.”

As a teen, another pillar began to crack. Judah believed his attraction to guys and girls was sinful. It felt like God was two opposing forces—one god you lean into for love and grace, the other shames and condemns you. 

“If god really is all powerful, and I’m praying to him and wanting these things to go away, then why aren’t they going away and how can I be a better christian?”

Judah doubled down on young earth creationism and repressing his sexual attractions and dove deeper into eschatology. The family’s eschatology changed over time, but 2012 was the year the end of the world would come.

“Cling to family. Cling to beliefs. Cling to this idea that we will be saved from this awful place they call earth.”

Eventually 2012 comes and 2012 goes. This undid Judah. He spends the next three years learning what else was not true, debunking creationism, conspiracies and various theological matters. 

“If I deconstruct this all, and I fully leave the faith, I’m willing to accept the fact that I’m risking hellfire but I care about the truth too much to live a lie for the rest of my life…”

Judah was a more liberal Christian for a while but eventually science and logic led him to become an agnostic atheist. He came out with his beliefs to his family in dramatic fashion and hasn’t looked back. His future is in his own hands and whether his family takes responsibility for their beliefs and actions during his childhood is in theirs. He now lives a life true to himself and his own values and ethics. 

Judah’s blog
https://jmedic.medium.com/

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
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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Will: Heretical Theology

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Will from Heretical Theology.

Will grew up in a Methodist church until high school, when he began attending youth group in what he now calls the, “cult church.”  Years later, will he and his wife were still at that church, he would have a seemingly supernatural experience at his brother’s church in Florida. The decide to move, and not only was there a megachurch waiting for them, there was also Disney World!

Will and his wife dove right in! They served at the megachurch for about five years when his wife began to doubt her beliefs. Eventually, Will resigned himself to being alone in his faith. 

“Just figured I’d be that church leader who has an unbelieving spouse.”

Slowly, however, Will’s fundamentalist beliefs shifted. He wanted to understand the Bible better, so he could understand his wife better. He decided to take off his “Jesus colored glasses,” and read the Bible differently. It wasn’t long before he had a number of issues with what he was reading. 

Then enters the Republican nomination of Donald Trump. Will felt like he was in the “twilight zone,” not understanding how Christians were getting behind Trump.

“Plot twist: I was a follower of Christ; not a follower of Trump.”

He and his wife stopped going to the main services but were still in small group. The pastor met with Will to discuss “ministry,” but instead Will needed to pour out all his questions and concerns. The pastor dismissed them. It may not have been intentional, but it still hurt. A few months later, he knew he no longer believed. 

“I was like, ‘God and I are done.’”

Today, Will uses Instagram to share what’s learned from the Bible.

“I know some shit about the Bible, and I would like to put that to some good use.”

He’s taking the “decades of useless Bible knowledge” he has to teach and challenge people, in hopes that his followers will outgrow him and move on to do amazing things. 

Recommendations:

  • Sam Harris (books & podcast)
  • Bart Ehrman (books & classes on Wondrium)
  • Paulogia (YouTube)
  • Yuval Noah Harari (Books: Homo Deus21 lessons for the 21st century & Sapiens)

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

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