Jack Robertson: Deconversion Story

Deconversion, ExVangelical, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Podcasters, Purity Culture, Religious Trauma
Jack and Higgins
Jack and Higgins
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Jack Robertson, host of the Musings of an ADD Mind podcast. He grew up with a deeply evangelical Southern Baptist mother, always going to church. As a teenager, he became decidedly religious himself until a confidant revealed a secret. They let the entire youth group know that he was having sex with his girlfriend. He then stopped attending church for a while.

Late in his 30’s, Jack became heavily involved in an Oklahoma City based megachurch. He read through the bible three times, but Jack always had questions.

“In the Exodus story god is the bad guy, not Pharaoh. If man was created in god’s image, then wicked pre-flood people that were so evil [that] he needed to destroy the world, would be a reflection of him.”

Jack asks himself now: Did I really believe or was it my ADD hyper-focus on Christianity that kept me in for so long?

After a friend asked him to pray about a job interview, it hit him, “How would god decide? Go with whoever had the most friends pray? The person whose friends prayed the most? Use a prayer version of a ‘comment winner generator’?”

Later, during a deep dive into Mesopotamian history, Jack realized it was all just stories.

“It is weird that history cemented my deconversion, but I guess that’s just me.”

Lastly, the results of the 2016 US election and his son coming out as bi-sexual finalized his decision. He could no longer believe.

Links

Website
https://www.podpage.com/musings-of-an-add-mind/

Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/musngsofanaddmind/

Interact

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

Jon Steingard
https://gracefulatheist.com/2021/01/03/jon-steingard-the-wonder-and-the-mystery-of-being/

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

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

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

Monique: Deconversion Anonymous

Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Abuse, Secular Grace, Unequally yoked
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Monique. Monique grew up a cultural Christian until the family of her boyfriend “made it known they were Southern Baptists.” She married that boyfriend and had kids. He became abusive. First psychologically, then spiritually and eventually physically. He gaslit her, told her she was not worthy and that she was not following god, and called her purity culture epithets we won’t recount here.

How dare I question him [ex-husband], how dare I question god.

After years of isolation and spiritual abuse, Monique left after executing a cloak and dagger level plan to serve divorce papers and a restraining order simultaneously. Eventually, her kids were taken from her as he had lawyers and she did not. She was estranged from them for years.

Monique went through a deconstruction and deconversion that began to give her some peace. Her youngest son reached out to her to tell her he is gay. She opened up her arms and showed grace, love and respect. She and her daughter attempted to reunite but this was ruined when the daughter took offence to a passing joke about prayer.

I am not going to conform.
I will not conform to meet someone else’s standards.
I am who I am.

Today, Monique is free and loves learning true things. Her and her new husband (who happens to be a believer) have respect and love for each other. Monique is telling her story to give hope to others so they may know they are not alone.

You are not alone. I am here. I am may not be able to help you, but I am here with you.

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

Lars and Christie: Deconverted Family

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Purity Culture, Secular Community, secular grief
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guests this week are Lars, Christie, Teddy, Amy and Eleanor, a whole family who deconverted around the same time. Lars felt a sense of duty to be a Christian all his life because he believed it was true. Christie felt there was “good evidence” for parts of the Bible and accepted on faith that the rest was true. This worked fine until they both came to the conclusion that there was not enough evidence to continue believing.

During the pandemic with Church on screen rather than in person, both Lars and Christie began to feel freedom from Church. They eventually admitted to each other that they no longer believed. A few months later they asked the kids, “Do you notice anything we are not doing any longer?” To which they responded, “church.” None of them seemed to miss much, other than friends and the snacks!

Lars and Christie also share about Lars’ demi-sexuality and the difficult early conversations around sex when they were first getting married. This highlights the destructive aspects of purity culture on everyone.

Today the whole family is feeling free, intellectually honest and relieved after admitting to themselves they no longer believe and stopped going to church.

Links

Answers To Answers In Genesis FB group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/answers2aig/

William Lane Craig admitting it is the witness of the holy spirit not evidence

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

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Eli: Transition and Deconstruction

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Religious Abuse, Secular Grace, secular grief
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Eli Fuhrmler-Wheeler. Eli grew up going to Awanas at an Evangelical Free church. Eventually, he attended an Assemblies of God church and spoke in tongues. His parents forbade him from going to that church and “of course I felt they were keeping me from the gates of heaven and pulling me into hell.”

Eli’s childhood was traumatic in many ways. He experienced sexual abuse, neglect, his mom was very sick her whole life, her boyfriends were abusive, his father had an antisocial personality disorder, and he lived on and off in foster homes.

Eli sought the comfort of drugs and alcohol. He discovered he was a lesbian. He was told he was going to hell by his family.

As an adult he began a relationship with his now wife. At 30 he realized he was a man and began transition. Eli has faced rejection by family and some friends. However, his gracefulness through it all has won some of them over.

[Rather than show grace, why not be angry at those who have not shown you grace?]
That wouldn’t teach anybody anything.
It wouldn’t teach me anything and it wouldn’t teach them anything.

Eli deconstructed from Christianity through the years. He has explored various world religions including Norse Heathenry and various mystic traditions.

Transition and therapy have given Eli the wholeness he deserves. Eli and his wife show unconditional love for one another. This is the relationship that Eli has experienced grace for himself.

Links

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

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

Interact

Thank you for nominating the podcast for the People’s Choice award in the Religion and Spirituality category
https://www.podcastawards.com/

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

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Sarah: Christian Nationalism, Complementarianism and Deconstruction

Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Purity Culture
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 Sarah. Sarah says she may have one of the “longest deconstruction stories. She grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist church in an area where there were not that many Baptist churches. So she felt different from an early age. She was constantly attempting to live in the “will of God” but struggled to determine what that was. She knew from an early age that she was a doubter which equates to “backslider.”

After listening to deconstruction stories for the last several years, I think I have the longest deconstruction story ever. I suspect there could be longer ones than me, but I have yet to hear one. My deconstruction started in the 1980’s when I was a teenager, and it was very lonely.

Sarah was never comfortable with the limited roles allowed for women in the Church. Fortunately her mother encouraged her to do and become whatever she wanted. Sarah was smart and interested in science. Studying science and biology did not fit the Young Earth Creationism she was taught at church.

Sarah and her husband were the one couple who were egalitarian while the young married couples group were all complementarian. Sarah was vocal about her thoughts on complemntarianism.

Sarah spent a long time outside the United States. When she returned to the United States she was shocked by the Christian Nationalism she heard from the pulpit.

On the days I still believe …

Rachel Held Evans

Rachael Held Evens, Mike McHargue and David Hayward helped Sarah through her deconstruction. Today post-deconstruction she is interested in finding her “deconstructing friends” in real life.

Interact

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

Deconversion Anonymous
https://gracefulatheist.com/category/podcast/deconversion-anonymous/

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

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

Send in a voice message

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Promotions

Conference on Religious Trauma
https://pheedloop.com/CORT/site/home/

#ReligionShouldntHurt
https://www.instagram.com/religion.shouldnt.hurt/

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Ian Redfearn: Meaning Making

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Humanism, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Secular Community, Secular Grace, secular grief
Ian Refearn
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Ian Redfearn. Ian deconverted over 12 years ago. Since then he has continued to obsess over his deconversion. He is still asking the why? and how? questions. Ian is concerned with the deep questions of life and continuing to find ways to make meaning.

When people ask the question, “why did you leave it?”
I say it came down to credibility and integrity.
Credibility, I no longer found it credible to talk about a loving interventionist god against the reality of what was going on in my life and in the life of those around me and in the world.
And integrity, in that, I just couldn’t keep on pretending.

Ian has experienced the full force of the chaotic world we live in. His 24-year-old son has Cystic Fibrosis which is particularly frightening during an airborne pandemic. His father is experiencing Alzheimer’s Disease. All of this is happening during the time of Covid 19.

In spite of the difficulties of life, Ian has a joy and a sense of purpose. He is a committed father, husband, son and community member. He takes time to wonder at the beauty in the world. He recognizes that relationships are what give us our most valued meaning in life.

So there is much to wonder … are we allowed to use the word transcendent? Just that which completely expands your mind.
So there is meaning in that.

But above all else I think there is meaning in relationship and for anyone going through this that will not change you will find the relationships that matter.

Also don’t stop giving … you will find meaning in reaching out and helping those less fortunate than yourself.
That will serve to give your life meaning

He is now attending the Manchester Sunday Assembly and becoming an active member of the Secular community.

All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.

Links

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/ian.redfearn1/

Sunday Assembly Manchester
https://www.facebook.com/sunassemblymcr
Zoom 11am (GMT) Sunday mornings  https://zoom.us/j/2472709402

What is your favorite #DeconversionSong?

Music is important to Ian and it influenced his deconversion and how he talks and feels about it now.

Use the hashtag #DeconversionSong to tell us your favorite deconversion song

Here are some of Ian’s favorites:

My favorite is A Great Big World’s Say Something

Interact

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

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

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Support the podcast
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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Troy Moore-Heart: Y’all Means All

Adverse Religious Experiences, Agnosticism, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma, Secular Community, Secular Grace
Troy Moore-Heart
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Troy Moore-Heart. Troy grew up in an Evangelical family in Texas and described his childhood self as a “true-believing born-again Christian” who was baptized by his father at 6 in his grandmother’s church. Troy experienced religious trauma, the natural childhood fears given the purported reality of a spiritual realm all around him. Later in life, when he acknowledged his sexuality he “fervently believed [he] was going to hell.” When he eventually came out to his family he needed to put up healthy boundaries.

It’s hard to be in relationships with people who think you’re going to Hell.

Troy started to call himself an agnostic and not an atheist for fear of losing his relationship with his family. After marrying as an adult, he came to terms with his religious trauma and anti-queer shame. He discovered secular humanism as “an ideological and moral home.”

We don’t need to believe in any supernatural deity or god
or interventionist all powerful being
to believe that we must be kind and moral.

Today, troy calls himself a progressive humanist, and he is focused on transformative justice. He is becoming a humanist celebrant. He supports projects like the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Y’all Means All and the Trevor Project. Troy also supports the thriving secular therapy community that is growing around trauma-informed therapy, including the Religious Trauma Institute and the Reclamation Collective.

My personal motto is:
Do no harm but take no shit
and work for peace and justice.
For me that is humanism.

Troy requests that you consider signing the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Y’all Means All” pledge. “It’s become a galvanizing slogan to promote LGBTQ inclusion and advocacy in rural Southern communities.”

Links

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/troy.moore.heart/

Y’all Means All
http://www.yallmeansall.com

The Trevor Project
https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

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

Reclamation Collective
https://www.reclamationcollective.com/

American Humanist Association
https://americanhumanist.org/

Interact

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

Interview with Brian Peck
https://gracefulatheist.com/2019/11/14/brian-peck-room-to-thrive/

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

Send in a voice message

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

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats