Andrew Pledger: Religious Trauma Awareness

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Trauma
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
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CW Mental health and depression

This week’s guest is Andrew Pledger. Andrew has spent nearly his entire life in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church—where the KJV rules and women do not. 

Andrew was homeschooled K-12 with a mildly white Christian nationalist curriculum, no sex education and no diverse friendships.

“If you’re not subjected to different worldviews and ideas, how can you even think critically about your own?”

For years, Andrew’s mental health suffered, but there were no resources for him. He was told that he wasn’t “reading the Bible enough” and “needed to get closer to God.”

“I was very emotionally dependent on those religious rituals…bible reading, praying, confessing…it has that emotional release because you believe that it’s really doing something.”

In college, Andrew knew he needed professional help but at a fundamentalist Christian college, there was only “biblical counseling”. The first two years were excruciating. Eventually, however, with a little community and a lot of research, Andrew took his mental health into his own hands. 

“It was really the first time I started listening to…and trusting myself.”

He started asking difficult questions about the Bible, and it was not long before the foundations began to crumble. 

“Is the Bible actually inerrant? Is it perfect? Are the stories original? Is this really inspired by God?”

Since leaving Christianity, Andrew has lived out secular grace. He is spreading awareness about toxic religion and working toward becoming a religious trauma therapist. His personal experience of freedom compels him to help others find the same freedom. 

“Trauma is a horrible cycle that needs to be stopped. We really need to do what we can…”

Links

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/4ndrewpledger/

Josh Harris Interview
https://www.instagram.com/tv/Ca–9vFAxqs/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

Photo Series
https://www.instagram.com/4ndrewpledger/guide/religious-trauma-photo-series/17999363926411608/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

Website
https://4ndrewpledger.mypixieset.com

Link aggregator
https://liinks.co/4ndrewpledger

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

Meghan Crozier: Prog/Post Christian Deconstruction

Agnosticism, Autonomy, Bloggers, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Podcasters, Purity Culture, Secular Community
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Meghan Crozier, the writer behind The Pursuing Life blog and co-host of Thereafter Podcast. Meghan grew up in an Evangelical Free church and she was “all in”.

“I had my bible on my desk in middle school…so people knew that I was a Christian.”

After high school, Meghan attended a Christian university, signing a pledge to become a missionary. Her life turned out differently, and it took years to be content with that. Now, however, she is extremely thankful she never became a missionary. 

At the beginning 2020, when so much was changing in everyone’s lives, she clung to her faith. She journaled. She prayed for an hour daily and read her bible every morning.

“I don’t know what to do, so I’m going to pray through this. I’m going to try to figure this out.”

As the year progressed, she began to see other aspects of her church that she could not unsee—homophobia, gaslighting, ableism. Then the January 6th insurrection happened, and her church’s response to this disturbing event, Meghan knew she had to reconsider almost everything her life. 

“I’m a Person of Faith…ish.”

Meghan now holds her Christianity very loosely. She’s found community and connection through running half-marathons, social media, and her blog and podcast. Meghan is an important voice in the deconstruction world, influencing people with both the spoken and written word. 

“You have such a window into so many different pieces of faith change and deconstruction and discovering yourself.”

Twitter
https://twitter.com/thepursuinglife
https://twitter.com/thereafterpod

The Pursuing Life
https://www.thepursuinglife.com/

Thereafter Podcast
https://linktr.ee/thereafterpod

Prog/Post Xian Deconstruction Coffee Hour
6 AM PST / 9 AM EST on Twitter Spaces

Book recommendations
https://www.thepursuinglife.com/selfcare/books

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

Deconstruction
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/#deconstruction

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Matt Oxley: Raging Rev

Atheism, Bloggers, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, ExVangelical, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s episode is Matt Oxley. Matt has what he calls a “Bapti-costal” background—mainstream Southern Baptist with “some extra flair and drama.” At six, he was saved, by thirteen he was “hardcore about faith” and by high school, his beliefs were his whole world. However, at nineteen he left church over doctrinal issues, called it a “sabbatical” and took a few years to genuinely examine his convictions.

“The prayer was, ‘I’m willing to give you up to find the truth,’ and ‘you’ was God.”

He knew he had to believe the “cardinal doctrines,” if he was to accept all the other beliefs, but how much could he see was wrong and still ignore it? He was no longer one hundred percent sure he believed in God, much less Christianity, and it didn’t feel like God was doing anything to help him believe.

“I just felt like I was out. I was empty. The faith was gone. I could not refill the tank.”

Eventually he admitted to himself that he was an atheist. At first, he became an “anti-apologist,” spreading a different gospel, but over time he found a balance.

“I find myself as a person with a lot more grace to give today.”

Now that eternal retribution is no longer a possibility, Matt holds his beliefs lightly. He is able to parlay with both Christians and humanists, asking hard questions and stirring up all kinds of discussions—Biblical history, Jesus versus Paul, fundamentalism, capitalism, sexuality, and more. 

“I feel that’s like ninety percent of my social interactions: trying to fool people into representing their faith well.”

Today, Matt’s gospel is love. He no longer believes in a god or in strict dogma, but he is optimistic about the church’s future. He’s influencing it for the better, one kind and hard conversation at a time.

Raging Rev
https://ragingrev.com/

Pastor With No Answers
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/pastor-with-no-answers-and-friends-podcast/id1046402610

Interact

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

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

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Judah: Anti-vax, Anti-medicine, Anti-government to Deconverted Medical Student

Atheism, Autonomy, Bloggers, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, High Demand Religious Group, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Religious Abuse, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Judah. Judah grew up “Church of God, Pentecostal adjacent,” where Judah’s father was convinced, “God is alive in these people.” By eight years old, Judah was speaking in tongues and absorbed into eschatology—the study of the end times.

Around ten, at a more “separatist” church, the family started homeschooling. His church and family were convinced they were right and everyone else was wrong. Answers in Genesis was the science curriculum, but Judah was also exposed to science on public television.

“I knew if [the creationism] pillar is knocked out; it’s going to be really hard to recover from.”

As a teen, another pillar began to crack. Judah believed his attraction to guys and girls was sinful. It felt like God was two opposing forces—one god you lean into for love and grace, the other shames and condemns you. 

“If god really is all powerful, and I’m praying to him and wanting these things to go away, then why aren’t they going away and how can I be a better christian?”

Judah doubled down on young earth creationism and repressing his sexual attractions and dove deeper into eschatology. The family’s eschatology changed over time, but 2012 was the year the end of the world would come.

“Cling to family. Cling to beliefs. Cling to this idea that we will be saved from this awful place they call earth.”

Eventually 2012 comes and 2012 goes. This undid Judah. He spends the next three years learning what else was not true, debunking creationism, conspiracies and various theological matters. 

“If I deconstruct this all, and I fully leave the faith, I’m willing to accept the fact that I’m risking hellfire but I care about the truth too much to live a lie for the rest of my life…”

Judah was a more liberal Christian for a while but eventually science and logic led him to become an agnostic atheist. He came out with his beliefs to his family in dramatic fashion and hasn’t looked back. His future is in his own hands and whether his family takes responsibility for their beliefs and actions during his childhood is in theirs. He now lives a life true to himself and his own values and ethics. 

Judah’s blog
https://jmedic.medium.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
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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

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

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

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

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats