Sarah: Christian Nationalism, Complementarianism and Deconstruction

Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Purity Culture
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
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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 here.

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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

Carly: Christian Science Deconversion

Atheism, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Podcast
Click to play on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Carly. Carly shares her story with a great deal of vulnerability and emotion. Carly was a Christian Scientist. While studying philosophy and the Bible Carly was introduced to Christian Science. She was impressed with its logical arguments and internal consistency. Carly was more evangelistic than the church she attended. She wanted to use the Christian Science reading room during SXSW as an outreach. She was shot down. When she pointed out that prohibited alcohol would be consumed by renting the space out she was shot down again.

My deconversion was very slow.
As Christian Scientists, we’re taught to heal the way Jesus did, through prayer.
Eventually, I realized I was deeply unhappy and prayer wasn’t working.
So I sought other methods to find happiness: diet, therapy, exercise, even Ayahuasca.
When I finally let go of the expectation to be a good Christian, I felt a relief and a happiness that people noticed and commented on.

The juxtaposition of what Christian Science promised and the reality of life led her to doubt. Carly eventually found what she was looking for in more secular matters like work, exercise and therapy.

Interact

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

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

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

Support the podcast here.

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Rachael Parsons Svendsen: Deconversion not so Anonymous

Adverse Religious Experiences, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Philosophy, Podcast, Religious Trauma, Secular Grace
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This week’s show is a Deconversion not so Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Rachael Parsons Svendsen. Rachael is a Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor at RCPS Therapy. Rachael became a Christian at three years old. She went to Biola University and studied philosophy. Later in life she experience the effects of Religious Trauma: just setting foot in a Church she would break down in tears.

Honesty is an important value for Rachael and part of what led her to deconversion. She talks about the difficulty of relationships with believers in her life while attempting to maintain honesty.

Rachael and I investigate the experience of cognitive dissonance and religious trauma. We discuss the importance of the Easter story to Western thought, what is like to parent post-deconversion and the loss of the (false) sense of control after deconversion when difficult life events occur.

Rachael points out that she does not have it all together post-deconversion. We agree we are all winging it.

Links

RCPS Therapy
https://rcpstherapy.com/

Small Words Big Stories
https://www.instagram.com/smallwords_bigstories/

Interact

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

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/secular-grace/

Adverse Religious Experiences
https://gracefulatheist.com/category/adverse-religious-experiences/

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Promos

Religion Shouldn’t Hurt
https://www.instagram.com/religion.shouldnt.hurt/

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

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Mike T: Deconversion Anonymous

Atheism, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Humanism, Naturalism, Podcast, Secular Community, Secular Grace
Mike T.
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
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This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is G.A.P. editor, Mike T. Mike grew up in the South and went to a Catholic church. Everyone in the South went to one church or another and this was just in the background for Mike. After a charismatic Evangelical friend encouraged him he began to explore charismatic churches. The big draw was the opportunity to play music, his life-long passion.

Later in life, married with kids, he had normal financial stresses in his life. When he compared the reality of both his life and the life of those around him to the promises of his more material success oriented faith tradition he could not help but question. When a financial advisor suggested he hold off on his charitable giving, the mandated tithe, he expected consequences. Those consequences never occurred. Things were not adding up.

[after stopping tithing]
And that was another thing, everything I had been told didn’t happen.
So I just started wondering, well, what else am I missing out on?

His first mistake was doing research on evangelists that would come to town. These fantastical claims must have generated news stories somewhere, right? His second mistake was re-reading the bible (and Bart Ehrman). Eventually, he discovered science and new way of determining what is true. His faith fell apart.

I prayed and I prayed and I never heard anything.
I wasn’t trying to get out of it all together.
I was trying to hold this thing together.
I didn’t want it to go this way.
I didn’t wake up one day and say I am not going to do this Christian stuff no more.

Mike is the editor of the Graceful Atheist Podcast. Beyond editing, Mike wants to start a local community for those who are going through doubt, deconstruction and deconversion. Music continues to be the great passion of his life.

Links

Clergy Project
https://clergyproject.org/

Interact

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

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

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

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Attribution

“Dawg Biscuits on the Moon” and “Restless Regions”
John Monson and the Galaxy Brothers

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Anna Hummel: YWAM, DTS and Deconversion

Adverse Religious Experiences, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Podcast, Religious Trauma, Secular Grace
You are not alone
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Anna Hummel. Anna became a Christian at 16 after growing up in a nominal culturally German Christian home. She was attracted to the community, the love of the people and the sense of belonging. Before long she found herself at a Youth With A Mission Discipleship Training School where things were a bit more intense.

At DTS Anna began to have Adverse Religious Experiences. The cumulative stress and lack of privacy began to wear on her. She had trauma around the fear of Hell both for her loved ones and for herself. It was not until she got home and experienced the Secular Grace of her non-Christian friends, that she recognized the harm she was experiencing and the loss of her normally care-free attitude.

If someone is on a deconversion journey, I really hope that you can let go of that shame. Because it is really hard in the beginning to forgive yourself. We are always so hard on ourselves and just accepting that you made a mistake can be hard but it really is very important.

Today Anna has compassion, understanding and Secular Grace for those who succumb to the peer pressure of conformity to the group. She wants people to experience the freedom from religious trauma that she now thrives in.

Links

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

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

Interact

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

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/secular-grace/

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

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Attribution

“You Are Not Alone” image
Anna Hummel

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

CG: African Polymath

Adverse Religious Experiences, Agnosticism, Atheism, Autonomy, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Humanism, Podcast, Purity Culture, Race, Religious Trauma
CG sculpture
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

CG grew up in strict religious home in Nigeria, where everything was banned except Christian media. His family was heavily influenced by the Pentecostal Word-Of-Faith/Prosperity movement. CG attended a tyrannical, authoritarian, and punitive college in Nigeria.

CG, later on, moved to London, UK. In London, he saw that the world was bigger than the Christian bubble that he had been raised in his whole life. He attended a popular charismatic church where he met people from different cultures, beliefs, and denominations. However, some of his friends challenged his Word-Of-Faith/Prosperity beliefs. He started theological beliefs started changing as a result.

CG, subsequently, moved to the USA to get a graduate degree at a Christian college. He lived in the American south where, as an immigrant, he felt isolated and disconnected from the Christian culture around him. This drove him to a personal intellectual journey, where he spent hours reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching videos.

After graduating with his master’s degree, CG came to the point where he could not ignore the damage that Christianity was inflicting on his mental health and personal development. He realised that he had to choose between completely losing his sanity & freedom by remaining a slave to religion or abandoning his beliefs and accepting his freedom/autonomy. A few days later, he became an Agnostic, and, subsequently, an Atheist.

CG has been on the path of freedom, healing, and recovery ever since. He is deconstructing sexual shame, self-hatred, misogyny, white supremacy, colonization, and western imperialism (and other forms of injustice). He also seeks to heal the havoc that religion
has inflicted in Nigeria (and other African countries) through evangelism, cultural imperialism, and colonization. Religion, significantly, contributes to the apathy and passivity of Nigerians, which prevents them from fighting for their freedom and justice.

CG is very passionate about humanism. He believes humanism is what our generation needs to help make the world (especially Africa) a better place. He is an existential humanist, a cosmopolitan humanist, and a planetary humanist. He believes that humanists need to have freedom (autonomy), humility, compassion, hope, love for learning, curiosity, and open-mindedness.

Links

African Polymath Blog
https://africanpolymath.wordpress.com/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/AfricanPolymath

Reading list and resources
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/193EJcKRNIxAftLb6daW9f_blMaJ2QwrQ?usp=sharing

Email
AfricanPolymath@gmail.com 

Interact

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/deconversion/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/secular-grace/

Graceful Atheist Podcast
https://gracefulatheist.com/podcast/

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Erin: Religious But Not Spiritual

Agnosticism, Authors, Deconstruction, Deconversion Anonymous, Humanism, Podcast, Religious but not Spiritual
Erin by Haida Draws
Photo by Haida Draws
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
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This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Erin. Erin is working toward her chaplaincy and her Masters in Practical Theology. She describes herself as “religious, but not spiritual.”

If I had to encapsulate my religious outlook in one sentence, I would invert the oft-cited phrase ‘spiritual, but not religious’ and instead say I am ‘religious, but not spiritual’. I have always had a deep-seated interest in religion, and I love the traditions, community and way of life which Christianity provides. Yet I have always struggled with the supernatural aspects of the faith; I could never grasp the concept of communicating with a God ‘up there’ while humans were ‘down here’.

Erin grew up in Northern Ireland. She was raised to respect all people. But when she was accepted by an Evangelical Presbyterian church she became in her words “the worst kind of fundamentalist.” This included deriding Catholics.

At University she excelled and found herself attracted to more liberal theologies. She says she went from Evangelical to an Open Theist to a functional atheist (agnostic).

Erin also happens to be on the Autism spectrum. This had an impact on her inability to accept things on faith. She needed logical consistency.

But Erin still finds value in the Christian tradition. She plans to do good in the world as chaplain.

Links and recommendations

Doubts and Loves: What is Left of Christianity (Canons Book 104)

Autism Faith Network
https://autismfaithnetwork.com

Autism Pastor
https://autismpastor.com/

Interact

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

Humanist Podcast
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/podcast/

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Photo by Haida Draws

James: Deconversion Anonymous

Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Podcast
Photo by James
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

The idea of being non-christian or even non-religious, even more so, was just not something that ever occurred to me as a possibility it was all very real very present it could completely fill my mind and my heart and consume my life.

My guest this week is James. James is a former missionary to Haiti who was a part of the Pentecostal and Charismatic traditions. James took his Christianity very seriously and was sensitive to God speaking in his life.

Through a series of realizations and life difficulties, James began to doubt what he had been taught about God matched reality. Later, exploring psychology he realized the cognitive biases and connotative dissonance he had lived under.

Whether or not God is real, what I was taught about God does not hold up.Sometimes shit just happens and it is not part of a plan

James describes himself as more “emotional.” His story is an important one representing the way Christianity can play on emotions and “works” until real tragedy strikes.

This basic skeleton of theology that I have been taught my whole life It really only works if you don’t ask certain questions and you don’t follow certain logical pathways that come out of it.

Special thanks to Mike T. for editing this episode.

[ “You were never a real Christian”]That sort of denial makes perfect sense. It’s cognitive dissonance. If somebody who was fully faithful, fully committed, fully convinced [and,] on fire for god can eventually get to a place where they say I no longer believe that then that raises the uncomfortable question of “Could that happen to me?” That is something a believer could ask themselves.
Rather than face and confront that question, as uncomfortable as it is, if you can dismiss the deconversion of someone else by saying “you never really believed in the first place” then they no longer have to contend with that discomfort in themselves they can avoid the cognitive dissonance that way.
So I understand why they do that.

Links

ExChristian Recovery
https://www.reddit.com/r/exchristianrecovery/

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

Interact

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

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Attribution

Photo by James

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Colin: Deconversion Anonymous

Comedy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Podcast, Religious Trauma, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
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This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

I have become the person I always wanted to be.

My guest this week is Colin. Colin absorbed his mother’s Evangelical Christianity. He has mostly good memories of the people in church. He bounced from his mother’s to his father’s families never quite fitting in. He hung on to his Christianity long after he recognized it no longer brought him “positive results” out of fear of losing everything: salvation, community and identity.

My first and only real religion is inclusion.

Colin’s doubts began young with a dynamic Sunday school teacher who was not allowed to preach in church and a gay uncle he was not supposed to approve of. Colin recognized that love demands inclusion. He felt it was his moral obligation to be inclusive.

That to me is love, for lack of a better word. I was being totally authentic and I was being totally accepted.

In his late twenties, in therapy, he experienced true acceptance. Even while he was explaining to his therapist he was still a virgin, having been a part of the purity culture of the ’90s.

I found unconditional acceptance immediately outside of religion whereas I often found highly conditional acceptance within it. Imagine my surprise!

Colin’s story takes a dramatic turn of self-discovery. He discovers himself and discovers his voice. He then experienced more acceptance telling his story of recovering from growing up Evangelical to non-christian audiences. Colin tells his story with rawness, honesty and a great deal of humor.

Interact

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/deconversion/

Colin mentions a post I wrote on apologetcis: What If I Grant That
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/2016/11/26/what-if-i-grant-you-that/

Colin mentions my friend Bryce interviewing me
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/2020/06/26/bryce-harrington-interviews-the-graceful-atheist/

Full show notes
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/2020/11/29/colin-deconversion-anonymous/

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Support the podcast here.

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Jimmy: Deconversion Anonymous

Atheism, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Podcast
"memento Mori, 'To This Favour' by William Michael Harnett" by Bob Ramsak is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
“memento Mori, ‘To This Favour’ by William Michael Harnett” by Bob Ramsak is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

My cell phone has a skull on it, to remind me that death is coming and I better live now. If you are not going to live now, when are you going to live?

Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Jimmy. As early as the beginning of 2020 Jimmy was still in the closet trying to determine how he would come out as an atheist and humanist. By mid February he had told his family and was bracing for his church to find out. Jimmy was a serious and dedicated Christian drawn to Calvinism by family and the intellectual rigor.

It wasn’t that I was running away from it. But I think at that point I had internalized that I wasn’t a believer …
I realized I was going to have to come out at some point. I couldn’t maintain a charade.

As the years went by and his attempts at self-betterment were not realized he began to be drawn by the pragmatism of Stoicism. He eventually realized that counseling would be beneficial, though this had so far been off the table. Through these active measures he began to see some success at self-betterment.

[Stoicism has] this very pragmatic approach to making yourself a better human …
[Stoicism] hit me at a time when I needed something.

Jimmy’s chief concern was not damaging the relationships with his believing friends and family. He was very careful to show them he loved them and had no contempt for their faith.

It is one of these things where I think, this has got to be a band-aide I am ripping off and not a cancer I am injecting into my family. And I am going to do my darnedest to make sure that this works and that they know I love them.

I love these people How can I not harm them? Or how can I minimize the harm?

Jimmy is eminently quotable so here are more quotes from the episode

I had a long list of potentially scary things that could happen … I wanted to see it in writing to remind myself why I am trying to be careful and it is because of people I love. The best people I know are die hard Christians. The would die for their faith. Like I would have 10 years ago.


So I don’t want to harm these people and I don’t to make them think that I think they are idiots … I don’t want to conjure up of images of Christopher Hitchens sneering at them whenever they look at me.


The whole feeling alone thing. That is just hard. All the people you really care about you can’t tell

Jimmy’s book recommendations

  • A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, by William B Irvine
  • Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary, by Kenneth W Daniels.
  • Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry
  • How (not) to Be Secular, by James KA Smith
  • Blue Remembered Earth, by Alastair Reynolds

Interact

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

Send in a voice message

Support the podcast here.

Attribution

Image Credit
“memento Mori, ‘To This Favour’ by William Michael Harnett” by Bob Ramsak is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Audio Credit

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats