Doug Traversa: Atheist Minister

Atheism, Authors, Deconversion, Dones, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Grace
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Doug. Doug became interested in church when he was in junior high, and when Doug is in, he’s all in. 

He was a believer throughout high school, college and into the military. But then books and magazines happened. Doug began reading more “skeptical literature,” and the questions began. 

Doug’s faith unraveled while he was “an atheist in a foxhole,” but faith in the supernatural was unnecessary. He needed his own strength, and the strength of the people around him.  

He has since been an atheist pastor, finding the human connection he and his wife needed, without changing their beliefs or forsaking their values. As Brene Brown says, “We are hardwired to connect with others,” and Christianity has no longer cornered the marked on community and belonging. 

Quotes

“When I was twelve, I decided to get serious about my eternal destiny”

“So I began asking harder questions at church, and I soon encountered a pattern I would see again and again as we visited different churches. Once my questions became too difficult (or too annoying), I was told I just had to have faith.”

“I left God behind, at least the version taught in the Bible. I would now be unapologetically atheistic.”

“I deployed for a year…and that was my ‘atheist in a foxhole’ moment. … we were convinced at least some of us were going to die, and I was thoroughly convinced in my mind at that point that this was my last full day on earth. … At no point did I pray, acknowledge God, feel slightly drawn to God…I was perfectly good with: There is no god, and I might die tomorrow. We’ll just see what happens.”

“People have often asked me why I left the faith, and I tell them, ‘It’s because I studied the Bible.’”

“It was my reading of skeptical magazines and literature that gave me the freedom to look at the Bible in a new light, but it was the actual Bible itself that condemned itself.”

“All I can say is I’ve been extremely happy not having to believe in God, not having to worry about saving other people.”

“Having left behind a church that demanded faith, I found a most unexpected church that reveres rational thought and welcomes atheists. Amazing. Having sworn to never set foot in a church again, I find that the universe loves to throw curveballs. To quote Douglas Adams, “In an infinite universe, anything is possible.””

“When you’re taking care of someone else, you’re not thinking about yourself.”

Links

Unitarian Universalist Church of Tullahoma
tullahomauu.org

Doug’s Short story “The Faith I Left Behind” is in the book, The Sandbox

#AmazonPaidLinks

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Adria: Racism in the missionary field

Atheism, Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Race
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Adria. Adria is a sociologist working in international development. Adria grew up in various multiethnic churches but each one seemed to worship whiteness more than Jesus. By the end of college, Adria was done. Years later, in atheist spaces, she would find racism to be just as prevalent. 

Her experience with the Christian missionaries showed her the inequity that must exist for missionary work to thrive. In the last decade she has since seen that Western nations continue missionary work; only as evangelists for “neoliberal economic systems” rather than the gospel.

Adria’s understanding of supremacy culture’s effects on humanity is invaluable to any community—church, atheist or global—working toward a more equitable world. She truly is a model of graceful atheism. 

We discuss international development, missionary work, economics, equity, racism, atheism, black non-believers and much more.

Recommendations

Organizations

Black Non-Believers
https://blacknonbelievers.org/

Books

Black Non-believing authors
https://the-orbit.net/blackskeptics/2012/09/11/books-by-black-atheists/

Tweet-Worthy Quotes

“The same reason that white women have less money than white men is the reason why black people have less money than white people. It is the system created for whiteness and white maleness.”

“We were really evangelists for this neoliberal economic system.”

“…my ascent into atheism.”

“It would mean seeing other countries, other entities, as equal, and that’s not the case right now.”

“…equity: Everyone does not get the same things because everybody does not have the same endowments.”

“I went to general atheist events…it was amusing but it definitely wasn’t welcoming.”

“That [evangelism] turned me off. Imagine how much what I do turns other people off.”

“The Church is just the world. It’s just people.”

Interact

Catch me on former guest, Robert People’s, Affinis Humanity, Instagram live Thursday August 4th at 5 PM EDT
https://www.instagram.com/affinishumanity/

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Photo By James Barry – http://www.treaty2u.govt.nz/images/impact-main-1.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12666818

Bob Barnes: BAHACon 2022

Agnosticism, Atheism, Dones, Humanism, Podcast
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Bob Barnes. Bob is a lifelong atheist and an organizer with BAHA, Bluewater Atheists, Humanists & Agnostics. BAHA “is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the image of Freethinkers and Atheists and to give back to our communities.” 

BAHA is hosting its annual conference, BAHACon, with speakers and events you won’t want to miss! August 26 – 28th, 2022 in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

Links

BAHACon
https://bahacon.com

Bluewater Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics
https://bluewateraha.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
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

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

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

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

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

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

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
Listen on Apple Podcasts

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

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

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

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats