Robert Peoples: Affinis Humanity

Atheism, Deconversion, Humanism, Philosophy, Podcast, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
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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
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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Jeffrey Caldwell: Humanist Hospice Chaplain

Atheism, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Community, Secular Grace, secular grief
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Jeffrey Caldwell. Jeffrey grew up in Lancaster county, PA in a liberal denomination set in a conservative area. As a child, church was “okay,” filled with the usual things—bible crafts in Sunday school and singing in the choir. His family was “quasi-religious,” so no one was ever pressured to believe anything.

Jeffrey doubted whether Christianity was real throughout middle school. Neither his parents nor his siblings took it very seriously, so he left church in high school but was still searching for meaning. 

Music, books and movies filled the space that religion often does. Eventually, his interest expanded to include philosophy, politics, social justice, all influenced by the “oldies” his dad played in the car. 

“I was fascinated by this idea of just ordinary, everyday people banding together to solve whatever problems they were facing…”

In his twenties, Jeffrey struggled with mental health issues and after a surprise encounter with a church youth group, he knew he was missing community.

“I recognized instantly that that’s what I was looking for in my life, some place where I felt like I belonged, some place where I felt like people valued me for who I was. But at the same time, I realized that I wasn’t a christian.”

He didn’t fit in with the traditional religions, so he tried the UU church. Then he got involved in progressive politics and social justice, and eventually went to seminary and became a chaplain.

“Learning to be a chaplain was learning how to sit with people who are in pain and distress and not be overwhelmed by their pain and distress.”

Now, Jeffrey has a thriving online and in-person community, Connections Humanist Community. Each week, people share stories and conversations. The members belong to a  community where they are valued and heard. Jeffrey is living out what it means to be a “graceful atheist.”

Connections Humanist Community
https://www.meetup.com/connections-humanist-community/

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

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

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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
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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

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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Ask Me Anything 2021

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Humanism, Podcast, Religious but not Spiritual, Secular Community, Secular Grace
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Ask Me Anything 2021.

Questions from Sheila, Emily, Rick and Mark, Jimmy, Arline, Judah, and Matt.

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

Still Unbelievable
https://anchor.fm/still-unbelievable/episodes/Episode-39—Deconstructing-a-Deconstruction-Deconstruction-els542
https://anchor.fm/still-unbelievable/episodes/Episode-64—Discussing-Sean-McDowell-and-John-Marriot-on-deconversion-part-1-e195h0h

Paulogia on Babylon Bee’s ExVangelicals
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMFQJPKYK28

Exvangelical on Evangelical response to Deconstruction
https://www.irreverent.fm/show/exvangelical-1/on-the-deconstruction-discourse/

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

Anthony Pinn
https://gracefulatheist.com/2020/08/23/dr-anthony-pinn-humanism-and-race/

Amy Rath
https://gracefulatheist.com/2021/06/06/amy-rath-nonelife/

Bart campolo
https://gracefulatheist.com/2020/07/09/bart-campolo-humanize-me/

Why I am not an Anti-Theist
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/10/17/why-i-am-not-an-anti-theist/

My Deconversion Sotry
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/09/10/common-message/

Interact

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

Mark Landes: Military, Deconversion and Humanism

Bloggers, Deconversion, Humanism, LGBTQ+, Podcast
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
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My guest this week is Mark Landes, a former Army officer working toward becoming a humanist chaplain. Mark grew up in the United Methodist tradition. He went to West Point, became an officer in the Army and hoped to become a chaplain.

It is surprisingly easy to not act on your hormones with a person of the opposite sex as a gay male when you are publicly declaring that you are not having sex before you are married due to your Evangelical Christian faith.

Mark’s army career is a fascinating tale in itself. He was stationed in West Berlin shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Then during the Gulf War, he volunteered to go to Kuwait and experienced the first air raid of the Gulf War. Mark was also a gay man in the military, before the time of “don’t ask don’t tell,” when there were witch hunts to remove gay military members. He was investigated and removed with an “other than honorable” discharge.

I felt like I was letting down god, my family, my school.
Everything was being taken away from me.
It just seemed like my world was coming to an end.

Understandably, Mark went through time of deep depression. To make matters worse, when he returned to the states, he joined a 12 step group that was in effect group conversion-therapy. It is during this dark time that Mark began to question the reality of god. Through a years-long process, Mark deconverted, eventually admitting to himself he no longer believed.

I was holding on to the promise that god could help me, god could be there for me, and when I tried to speak to him, I didn’t get anything back, and that is is actually when I realized that what I had been doing this entire time is just talking to myself.

Mark has since become a humanist celebrant and has tried to get a Masters in Divinity to become a humanist chaplain. During the process, he began his “theological anthropology” which led him to tell his story. He now wants to get a Masters in Pastoral care and is hoping to create an “institutional chaplaincy” in the business world. This humanist journey began with him asking the question, “how can I make the world a better place?”


Eventually, I saw everything I did to go to West Point, become an Army officer, get a master’s degree in computer science, and rebuild my life was not supernatural, but the result of my hard work.

Mark’s Blog
https://humanistchaplainjourney.blogspot.com/

Captain Cassidy
https://gracefulatheist.com/2019/10/17/captain-cassidy-roll-to-disbelieve/

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

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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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

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

Sara: Deconversion Anonymous

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

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

When I lost my faith, it felt like I lost my voice, too. I am a musician from a home of musicians.

My guest this week is Sara. Sara is “a musician from a home of musicians.” She grew up in an Assemblies of God church in a “vibrantly faithful home.” She spent her teen years in a “cool” Southern Baptist Church. She then spent some time in Acts 29 churches and Reformed theology. To round things out she attended a Presbyterian (PCA) church.

Sara started having doubts in college, but she was able to ignore them for some time. They eventually wore her down. Parenthood was the last straw. She realized she loved her son more than God loved anyone. God’s “hiddenness” was neglect that any parent could recognize.

They needed my free labor and I needed to be needed.

I was used to being needed.

Sara had been a worship leader. This usefulness kept her in the church longer than she would have otherwise. It also contributed to her deconversion as she saw what church was like “back stage.”

They said my voice was “clearly anointed by the Holy Spirit.” I went away thinking “no, I just spent four years and $60,000 learning how to manipulate you with it.”

Now Sara writes on her blog, Former Protagonist, about her deconversion experience. She is also exploring Humanism and loving her family.

Links

Former Protagonist Blog
https://formerprotagonist.blogspot.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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Jason: Deconversion Anonymous

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Humanism, Podcast, Purity Culture, 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 Jason, the son of a pastor. He grew up in the independent Christian Churches, an offshoot of Church of Christ that allows music. He grew up doing “sword drills” and was a devout teenage believer. He participated in Bible memorization contests. He became a musician and participated in worship bands for years.

In Jason’s young adulthood he began to question his own interpretation of the Bible. Why was bad language bad? Why the limited role of women in the church? How could a loving god send people to Hell? Eventually, the disparity between the idea of a loving god and the reality of the world and the suffering of innocent children led to his deconversion.

Anything you do with the bible is interpretation.

Jason’s wife is still a believer though they both deconstructed from Evangelicalism and started participating in an Episcopal church. They are making an “unequally yoked” relationship work based on love, equality and mutual respect.

Links

Captain Cassidy interview
https://gracefulatheist.com/2019/10/17/captain-cassidy-roll-to-disbelieve/

Roll To Disbelieve
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rolltodisbelieve/

Interact

Deconversion Anonymous
https://gracefulatheist.com/category/podcast/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
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Chris Highland: Friendly Freethinker

Authors, Bloggers, Deconversion, Humanism, Naturalism, Podcast, Secular Grace, Unequally yoked
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Chris Highland. Chris is an author of over a dozen books, he was a Protestant minister for 14 years and an Interfaith (collaborative, open-minded, inclusive) chaplain for 25 years. Currently a Humanist celebrant, he has a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Seattle Pacific University and an M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary

The more I interact with freethinking humanists and atheists the more great opportunities I see for building connections rather than breaking them down.

My highest compliment to Chris is that he has been doing Secular Grace for most of his life.

A revival of goodness and graciousness!

Chris shares his love of nature and beauty. We discuss humanism, nature and loving believing spouses.

I am a follower of Beauty

Links

Friendly Freethinker Blog
https://chighland.com/

Clergy Project
https://clergyproject.org/

Why I am not an angry evangelical atheist
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rationaldoubt/2019/02/why-im-not-an-angry-evangelical-atheist-part-1/

I’ve never felt “called” to be an “atheist evangelist”. I don’t feel the need to convert anyone to my viewpoint or use all the mocking memes out there to prove what a great apologist for atheism I can be.

Do we have to choose between aggressive religion and aggravated atheism?
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rationaldoubt/2021/05/do-we-have-to-choose-between-aggressive-religion-and-aggravated-atheism/

I don’t see religion going away, so I think it’s much more productive to find ways of working with those faith communities who are open to it, and those seculars who are open to it, than complaining about them top score AAA points or RRR points.

Books

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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Additional music
Dakar Flow – Carmen María and Edu Espinal

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Travis: Measure of Faith

Agnosticism, Bloggers, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Grace, secular grief
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Travis. Travis documented his deconstruction on the blog measureoffaith.blog. There Travis has documented his journey from a questioning but dedicated Christian to a doubting agnostic. He delves into the apologetics that were supposed to give him comfort but which ultimately led to loss of faith.

This is one of the more emotionally raw episodes. Travis opens up about his grief at the loss of his beloved father. His dad was an example of faith well lived and it had a profound impact on Travis. We discuss what secular grief is like after one no longer can be comforted by belief in life after death.

I have been feeling a little conflicted putting this information out there that can potentially help people lose faith because it was so important to someone like my dad. It makes me question whether I really want to be a participant for taking that away from someone.

These days Travis feels like he has said what he needed to say on the blog. His compassion and empathy is evident in that he is more concerned with caring for the people in his life than endlessly debating apologetics and counter-apologetics.

Links

https://measureoffaith.blog/

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