Dave Gossen: Agnostic and Done

Agnosticism, Deconversion, Dones, Podcast, Unequally yoked
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Our guest this week is Dave. Dave grew up in the Mennonite Brethren faith and followed all the rules until at age 50, a gift from his son made him begin to ask questions. Dave’s love for his family and a desire for truth are equally apparent in his story. He asked hard questions and was never given satisfying answers. Knowing he had to tell his wife about his waning faith, Dave feared the consequences. Fortunately, Dave and his family have chosen to turn toward one another in love. It has been a trying journey for Dave, but he knows that pursuing truth and loving the people around you give life purpose.

Tweet-worthy quotes

“When the Jenga tower begins to fall, it falls big time.”

“Good science. Good medicine. Good doctors.

“Taking the Bible for granted. Taking the existence of God for granted…Maybe I’ve got to question the things that I’ve been taught my entire life.’’

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The things that you were taught your whole life? Just make sure you do some critical thinking about them.”

Recommendations

Podcasts
Books

#PaidAmazonLinks

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

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Shannon: Deconversion Anonymous

Agnosticism, Atheism, Comedy, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Podcast, secular grief, Thought Experiments
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 Shannon. Shannon’ story delves into the emotional experience of deconversion. Shannon grew up in an Independent Fundamental Baptist church, where the teachings were pernicious.

“It’s like ‘Love Jesus. Love God. And be afraid of demons, ‘cause they’re everywhere and they’re going to get you!’”

As a teen and into adulthood, Shannon knew her own beliefs and convictions did not always align with her church or family. She tried to be who they wanted her to be, but her decisions were never quite enough for them. 

“…showed me that no matter what I give, there will always be one step further. It’s just not good enough.”

Over the years, she slowly, like “mental velcro,” ripped out the only beliefs she had known. Where her family couldn’t hold space for her questions, her husband could. It was a hard journey, but she wasn’t on it alone.

“From, mentally saying, ‘This isn’t real. I think I’m done’ to being done? It was torture.”

Today, Shannon misses the certainty she used to have, the path laid out in front of her with easy answers. But she is able to see the world with new eyes—the glory and majesty of nature, the wonders of scientific inquiry. It has changed her for the better, and she isn’t looking back. 

“To me? [Evolutionary change] is magic.”

Recommendations

Thought Experiments For Believers
https://gracefulatheist.com/2018/12/03/thought-experiments-for-believers/

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

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

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

Seth: Deconversion Anonymous

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Podcast
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 Seth. Seth was the oldest child in a large homeschooling family who attended attended mostly non-denominational churches. He was always studious and had read through the Bible multiple times before adulthood. 

In high school, Seth made his faith his own and dove deeply into Youth Earth Creationism. He studied at a state university and a few years after graduation began work at The Creation Museum.

“It was a dream come true for me but also turned into not-a-very-good experience…”

While living near the museum, Seth was introduced to a fringe religious movement he describes as “Messianic Judaism meets evangelicalism meets conspiracy theories.” In the Hebrew Roots movement, Seth discovered teachings he’d not encountered before and some doubts began to creep in. 

[Sharing the gospel] I went into detail on all the doctrine and as I was saying I realized I wouldn’t believe it if I were hearing it from somebody else.

Over the next year, Seth continued to experience conflicts between YEC and Hebrew Roots. The two ways of thinking were at odds—flat earth or round, scientific cosmology or the broken body of a leviathan? 

My faith “tendon” was getting stretched and stretched and stretched.

There was a point … it felt like part of my brain just broke and almost in an instant I realized I couldn’t believe anymore.

By 2020, Seth realized he was an atheist, no longer able to convince himself to believe again. 

So, finally realizing that I didn’t believe and admitting to my self I was an atheist was some of the most terrifying moments of my life on an emotional level.

“I was climbing up that slope the whole time, getting closer and closer to God and then…I stepped over the edge, and I just plummeted.”

Recommendations
Books
  • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Youtube

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

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

Robert Peoples: Affinis Humanity

Atheism, Deconversion, Humanism, Philosophy, Podcast, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

I believe in you.
I believe in people.
I believe in change, and if any change is going to happen,
we have to do it.
There is no savior coming to save us
that responsibility is ours.

This week’s guest is Robert Peoples of Affinis Humanity. Robert grew up in a Black Baptist church in New Jersey. When he was young, he enjoyed church but was an inquisitive child with many questions and no satisfying answers. As a teenager, Robert looked for answers outside the church—from Thomas Paine to Allah to the Buddha. 

“When I read The Age of Reason, that set my trajectory on a whole different path.”

By 18 years old, Robert could no longer believe in anything supernatural. His understanding of the world came from philosophy, history and science. This was incredibly difficult for his family, but they continued to faithfully love and support him.

“[My mom] said, ‘Why don’t you believe in something?…’ I said, ‘I can’t…this is based on critical thinking.’”

One frustration Robert has with the Black church community is that it works to change unjust systems but then uses phrases like, “We couldn’t have done this without God.”

“It makes us co-dependent on…benevolent white leaders in power, for God to somehow change their hearts and change their minds.”

In recent years, Robert has been working with a political non-profit to ensure the “separation of state and church” and to change unjust policies. Human suffering is caused less by individuals “in need of heart change,” and more by systemic racism, homophobia, classism and other inequities.

“You can’t think transcendental thoughts. You can’t think about leaving religion…when you can’t eat, when you’re about to evicted…when you have no support.”

In the midst of all the work to be done, Robert is hopeful. He is effecting change in the world and reminding others that “to be human is enough.” He stands in awe of the beauty of nature, his daughters and this short life. His story is one of world-changing secular grace. 

“The Book of Life opens up each and every time I wake up in the morning. I write my own book.”

[Humanism] has increased my love for humanity exponentially.
I no longer love people with conditions.

Links

Affinis Humanity
https://www.affinishumanity.org/

Secular Coalition for Arizona
https://secularaz.org/

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

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

Twitter
https://twitter.com/AffinisHumanity

Interact

For a Secular Grace holiday weekend
Jennifer Michael Hecht: Doubt A History
Dr. Anthony Pinn: Humanism and Race
Sasha Sagan: For Small Creatures Such As We

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

Bethany: Deconversion Anonymous

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Hell Anxiety, Podcast, Purity Culture, Secular Grace
Mt. Rainier
Picture of Mt Rainier
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

This week’s Deconversion Anonymous guest is Bethany. Bethany grew up in the Pacific Northwest, attending an Assemblies of God church. It was an insular experience of their brand of Christianity against the world.

The older Bethany got, the scarier the church doctrines—eternal torment, losing one’s salvation, the Apocalypse, faith healing that doesn’t always work and even demons under her bed.

“[My dad and his friends] were warriors for Christ, going out into the world fighting evil forces, but as a child, it was so scary to me…”

Bethany was a conscientious and sensitive teen. She ardently believed what she was taught and would believe even if it led to martyrdom.

“…[My parents and church] weren’t that extreme; I felt like I became really extreme.”

In college, Bethany got exposed to reformed theology and progressive Christianity. She began to think, “There is no, ‘God says,’ or ‘Scripture says.’ These are all interpretations.”

After college, Bethany moved to California. She immediately joined a church, but it wasn’t the same. She was no longer tied to it the way she had been; she finally had space to think for herself.

“It felt more like I had been indoctrinated my whole life, a constant stream of indoctrination…and then I finally got a break.”

In California, Bethany’s been able to think, hike, read and realize who she is without outside influence, but it hasn’t been easy. She’s been afraid and uncertain, still haunted by some of her old beliefs. But she is free and life is full even while she is still “in process.”

“Maybe I’m worthwhile in myself, and I can have strength and autonomy in myself.”

Book Recommendations

#PaidAmazonLinks

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

Picture of Mt. Rainier by Bethany

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

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Natalie: Deconversion Anonymous

Atheism, Autonomy, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Hell Anxiety, Humanism, Podcast, Purity Culture
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s episode is Natalie. Natalie grew up in a traditional Christian household, one of six kids. Living in the South and attending a Southern Baptist church most of her childhood and adolescence, however, left a bad taste in her mouth.

“[At church, integration] was never talked about. It was a complete separation of community and religion, and yet the missionaries would come and show their slides about the brown people in South America and Africa that we were ‘saving.’” 

One place she found solace? Books. Natalie was an avid reader from a young age and reading authors like Judy Blume opened her eyes to a whole good and happy world outside of her Christian bubble. Fictional, though it was, that world made her wonder, “How can [my family] be so unhappy and still have these beliefs about this religion?”

“Reading was really the gateway for me to questioning everything.”

Natalie escaped the South at seventeen for a few years and began seriously examining her childhood faith. Even as she was questioning her beliefs, she had to move back in with family. It wasn’t long amidst the chaos that she needed to escape again. After a quick and clandestine wedding, she and her husband moved.  

“The further I got from my family, the easier [questioning] became until…I woke up one day and realized I hadn’t thought about a god for a long time.”

It’s been a while since Natalie deconverted, and she has lived a fulfilling life, with both happy and hard times. Today, seeing those who are deconstructing their faith, she empathizes deeply .

“You have to take everything you’ve been told most of your life and run it through a ringer to see what’s true…And a lot of it doesn’t survive.”

Author Recommendations
  • Judy Blume
  • Grace Livingston Hill

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

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

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats