Nicki Pappas: As Familiar as Family

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, Hell Anxiety, Missionary, Podcast, Podcasters, Purity Culture, Quiver Full, Race, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Content Warning: Spiritual, physical and sexual abuse. Depression, post-partum depression, infertility and suicidal idealization.

Arline guest hosts interviewing author and podcaster, Nicki Pappas. Nicki Pappas is a writer who critiques the evangelical establishment that shaped her. She’s the author of As Familiar as Family: Leaving the Toxic Religion I Was Groomed For. She’s also the host of the Broadening the Narrative podcast where she interviews guests who are broadening the narratives she was taught within white evangelicalism. She has three young children with Stephen Pappas, her steady partner in the chaos since 2010. Through her work, she desires to spark hope in the world around her and live out an embodied faith.

Links

Website
https://www.nickipappas.com/

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

Broadening the Narrative Podcast
http://broadeningthenarrative.blogspot.com/

#AmazonPaidLinks

Recommendations

Podcast

Existential
https://coreyleak.podbean.com/

Books

#AmazonPaidLinks

Quotes

I wasn’t ready for Rachel Held Evans but I read her.

Who am I if I am not going to church?

I really like myself apart from a church.
The person I am getting to know.

Curiosity and compassion

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Jessica Moore: Becoming You

Autonomy, Bloggers, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, Hell Anxiety, Missionary, Podcast, Purity Culture
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Content Warning: sexual abuse, rape, spiritual abuse

This week’s guest is Jessica Moore, a life coach focusing on purity culture. Jessica grew up in a non-denominational Christian in Salt Lake City Utah surrounded by Mormons. She felt both the pressure to evangelize and be proselytized.

Jessica went to an unaccredited Christian college where she first began to have doubts. She wound up traveling to Israel and seeing life on both sides of the Palestinian/Israeli border. She experienced the reverse culture shock coming back to the United States.

Jessica put a lot of pressure on herself to be a “godly woman.” Purity culture had a damaging impact on her life.

The focus of her work now is helping people recover from purity culture and religious abuse.

Links

Website
https://jessicamoorecoaching.com/

Series of Expansion blog
https://jessicamoorecoaching.com/blog

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/becomingyou.coaching/

Recommendations

Marketing the Messiah
https://amzn.to/3XACtYv

Quotes

I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a godly women

Purity culture is a list of don’ts. It does not give you integrity or knowing your worth as a person.

I was not taught my worth. Obviously, I was taught I wasn’t worth anything until Jesus died for me.

[A “word” from God about shame] It felt special to me at the time, because I did carry shame.

My very black and white world turned very mucky gray.

I was on a quest to be a powerfully godly woman. I was just starving for that. What everyone else had, I wanted that too.

I had this strong devotion what was it all for

When I think about it, it wasn’t so much my faith in Jesus, it was trying to hold on to this good girl persona that was being challenged.

Oh my gosh, Jesus isn’t real!

I can’t even say I lost my faith, it really just dissipated.
It was like trying to grab a cloud and you can’t. It was gone.

Interact

My appearance on the I Was A Teenage Fundamentalist podcast https://pod.link/1558606464/episode/f8067a71cf74f38205420663954fceaf

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Arline Interviews Boundless and Free

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, Hell Anxiety, Podcast, Religious Trauma
Boundless and Free
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is the content creator, @boundless_and_free. Boundless grew up in a good Christian home, attended a PCA church and believed all was well in her life. She would later learn the term CPTSD and understand that her “good Christian upbringing” was not quite what she’d thought. 

In college, Ms. Free first experienced anxiety and depression but had no vocabulary for it. (The Church rarely discusses these things.) It wasn’t until the “perfect life” she’d been promised began to unravel that she realized she needed a different way to understand both “god” and herself . 

Now, as a “parts work” therapist, she helps others on their own journeys. Her personal experience of the divine centers around the ways that humans are connected to one another and the universe. 

Once again—whether someone leaves religion and becomes an atheist or continues on a spiritual journey—the real purpose in life comes from connecting with other people. We are all in this together, and we each get one life to leave this world better than we found it. 

Links

Counseling Website
http://theempoweredselfcounseling.com/

Boundless and Free on Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/boundless_and_free/

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

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

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

Recommendations
Books

No Bad Parts by Richard Schwartz

CPTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker

Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine

A Course in Miracles by Foundation for Inner Peace

Instagram profiles
  • @thejeffreymarsh
  • @jystsaysk
  • @aftergodsend 
  • @francescafemme 
  • @christenacleveland 
  • @thepracticeco 
  • @drlauraanderson 
  • @reclamationcollective 
  • @hillarymcbride
  • @methodsofcontemplation
  • @blackliturgies
  • @stewartdantec
  • @kevinjamesthornton
  • @abraham.piper

Quotes

“I should have been being a teenager, and here I [was] thinking about predestination.”

“…because, of course, if you’re a Christian, you can’t get depressed!”

“I spent every morning praying. I had done all the devotionals…What did I have to be depressed about? I just couldn’t understand it.”

“I look back now at my sweet, young self and think, Honey, what do you mean you have nothing to be depressed about? Look at all the things!

“So many people in the church don’t talk about mental health.”

“[Depression] has a strong connection to what’s happening inside your body. It’s not just something you can snap out of; it’s not just a mood.”

“[Anxiety and depression] are very connected. They’re often two sides of the same coin.”

“When my body was starting to break down…its way of telling me something was wrong. It was trying to get my attention.”

“My body is this big source of wisdom…this guide that can teach me.”

“We tried really hard to follow the rules [of purity culture], and it had a cost. It had a cost for a lot of people.”

“We were alienated from our bodies. We were told this home that we live in—this beautiful trustworthy home…was bad and wrong and would lead us astray.”

“…a lot of what was keeping me in church was the fear of leaving.”

“I hope I’ll always be in a place of curiosity and wonder for the rest of my life.”

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Picture of Mt. Rainier by Bethany

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Phil Quagliariello: PK, IFB, Emergent church and Insurrection

Bloggers, Deconstruction, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Hell Anxiety, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Phil Quagliariello who blogs at Phil Q Musings. Phil grew up moving around often as PK in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Churches and attending Christian schools even into college. Unfortunately, he saw the dark side of ministry when his father was removed from a church by its board for being too “new fangled.”

Phil eventually found himself in Calvary Chapel churches. They were were more exegetical, more focused on the Bible. He married and they both were worship leaders. Phil led worship for the service in which he was introduced to the idea of the “Emergent Church.” His marriage did not last, and Phil found himself seeking a church experience that was more authentic and “did not suck.” He found a faith community that met in the basement of a bar, and at first, it was satisfying.

Phil remarried a woman with two children. These children and the children they have together became the light of his life. When he became a father, he began to recognize the trauma of his upbringing: the fear of punishment and the fear of Hell. He focused on being parent who does not use fear as a weapon.

Phil began to seriously doubt Evangelicalism during the 2016 election. But he still hung on to the church experience until the Jan 6th insurrection when he could no longer call himself an Evangelical, a Christian or even a believer.

Phil has a particularly thoughtful answer to how he finds meaning in his life now.

Phil Q Musings Blog
https://philqmusings.wordpress.com/

Interact

Ginna’s Episode
https://gracefulatheist.com/2021/10/10/ginna-deconversion-anonymous/

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

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

Support the podcast
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Emily: Deconversion Anonymous

Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Hell Anxiety, Podcast, Purity Culture, 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 Emily. Emily grew up in an Evangelical Free Church in the rural Midwest. She was on the Cubbies-Sparks-AWANA track. Around age 10, Her dad switched careers, went into ministry and she became a pastor’s kid. Her early childhood church experiences were fairly positive, but from a young age, she struggled with a severe fear of hell and the rapture.

The youth group setting was horribly unsuited to a sensitive introvert like Emily. She was miserable, being forced to attend churches where she didn’t know anyone except her parents. This discomfort in Christian circles continued into college.

After college, Emily spent a year in London working on a master’s degree. She immersed myself in the city’s amazing performing arts scene and met a lot of people with totally different backgrounds and beliefs to hers. That year expanded her horizons; when she moved back to the US, she pursued a career in performing arts administration.

For the first few years after grad school, Emily wasn’t ready to reject everything, saying she didn’t believe in God. However, she had no interest in going to church, praying, reading the Bible, etc. Then the 2016 election happened. She watched with horror as Christians whom she loved and admired went all-in for Trump. At that point, she wanted nothing more to do with Christianity.

[The White Evangelical embrace of Trump] turned my indifference that I had had towards Christianity into a feeling of disgust.
I want nothing to do with this.
I was so disillusioned and just repelled by it.

In the past 2-3 years Emily has really done the hard work of figuring out what she believes now and addressing the harm that her Christian background has caused. Emily has had to work through the baggage of purity culture as she is in her first long term relationship.

Therapy with a focus on religious trauma has been helpful; Emily is discovering who she is–relishing the arts and experiencing the joy of being a human being.

I’m so much happier now that I’ve left Christianity. As someone with a deep appreciation of the arts, I’ve found so much joy in embracing the beauty that humans create – music, theater, literature, etc. – without the need to glorify God as the source of inspiration. I love being able to navigate relationships and shape my life on my own terms, rather than trying to fit into the prescribed narrative that evangelical Christianity boxes people into. I also like sleeping in on Sundays!

Interact

We are very excited to announce the new private Deconversion Anonymous Facebook Group. The group will be administered by Arline from episode 71. Please join us in building a community of graceful human beings.

Deconversion Anonymous Facebook Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/deconversion

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

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

Support the podcast
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Thanks to Logan Thomas for the new Graceful Atheist Podcast art work

Joel: Deconversion Anonymous

Atheism, Autonomy, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Hell Anxiety, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Unequally yoked
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 Joel. Joel grew up in the WELS Lutheran church. He met his wife at a Christian group during college. They attended a few churches, one of which was Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll’s church.

Joel began to question what he had been taught. He began noticing discrepancies in scripture. He began to see the way the Church handled LGBTQ rights and the role of women was wrong.

Am I waiting for revelation to confirm what I have been taught
or am I avoiding an inevitable confrontation with my real thoughts and beliefs.

He was able to reconnect with his sister as they grieved the loss of his grandfather. He discovered that she had deconstructed as well. He began to see atheism as not just reductionist and evil but as a viable option.

I got really afraid, to be honest, because I am not thinking “oh, I am finally learning the truth.”
I am thinking, “I am losing this faith that I should be given and I am falling away I am going to be punished for it.”

Today he is making his unequally yoked relationship work with mutual respect and love. And he is experiencing “absolute joy that the shackles are off.”

It started to make me think of blind faith as a concept. And I started to think, “Am I also blindly faithful of things and what does that look like?”

Interact

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

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

Support the podcast
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Daniel Kelly: When Belief Dies

Atheism, Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Hell Anxiety, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Podcasters, Purity Culture, Unequally yoked
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Daniel Kelly, the new co-host of When Belief Dies. Daniel began as a Charismatic Christian, moved to an Orthodox Christian church and eventually was at a Bible church that preached through every verse in the bible.

Daniel was a dedicated Christian working in a Christian non-profit helping those with disabilities. His mother had MS when he grew up so he was focused on helping his family through difficult times and did not always get to be a kid.

I believed I had to be perfect and I had to be helpful to everyone in order to be valuable.

Daniel’s feminism and belief in the humanity of the LGBTQ community, led to moral objections to some of the harder Biblical passages that do not uphold the humanity and full autonomy of everyone. His serious investigations into theology and the Bible were some of the early seeds that led to deconversion.

The grief Daniel experienced leaving the faith and the loss were profound. He lost his faith, his community, the health of his relationship and on top of that the pandemic hit. He was isolated and alone. He experienced “Hell Anxiety” and worried he was a “vessel of wrath.” The first year after deconversion was one of the most difficult of his life.

He made it through and today he is the co-host of the When Belief Dies podcast. He is building healthy relationships and restoring family relations. He is experiencing the freedom to love people unconditionally.

Links

When Belief Dies Podcast
https://whenbeliefdies.com/

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

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

Interact

Sam and Daniel interview me
https://gracefulatheist.com/2021/05/23/sam-and-daniel-interview-david-ames-the-graceful-atheist/

Daniel and I interview Sam
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/when-belief-dies-bonus-inquisition-daniel-kelly-david/id1516058806?i=1000522850337

Tris Mamone’s Finding Faith in Secular Grace
https://www.splicetoday.com/writing/finding-faith-in-secular-grace

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

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

Support the podcast
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats