Julia: Deconstruction of a Doctor

Adverse Religious Experiences, Agnosticism, Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Hell Anxiety, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts

Content Warning: miscarriage; traumatic birth; mental health problems; hell anxiety 

Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Julia. Julia is the clever mind behind the Instagram account, @painfulpostchristianprayers

Julia grew up in a German mostly-atheist home. The hostility, however, she saw for religion made it all the more appealing. As she came of age, she found herself confirmed in the German Lutheran church but attending and loving a very American Baptist church. Julia was all-in but soon found some doctrines were a bit much, especially the teachings about Hell.

For years, Julia threw herself into American Church World. She read the entire Bible, went to university to become a missionary doctor, met her spouse at church, even read Joshua Harris’s books. But life has a way of forcing some to wonder–Is the God I believe in really is as kind as I’ve been told

After one trying event after another, Julia could no longer see God’s “goodness, and she started to see through the “incredibly ridiculous explanations” people gave when God did not come through.

Julia is in a different place now. Her online presence provides an outlet for the anger that had been pent-up for so long, and it has also brought her community. She is far from alone; thousands are waking up to the empty promises of Christianity. 

And that is what is what humans truly need—not a distant, pretend deity but real human connection and relationship.

Quotes

“I’d prayed The Prayer…like, twenty times or so because I was never sure if it worked.”

“This Christian role that I was trying to press myself into was really causing me to be in a really bad place…”

“I think this is happening because I wasn’t faithful to god.”

“I felt like I couldn’t trust God anymore to do what he, supposedly, was suppose to do—namely protect his kids!”

“That’s what I am looking for, I am trying to find a god I can love, and I cannot love this one because he is abusive.”

“I came in touch with my longing for that god. I wanted it to be true … and I didn’t. “

“Everything works in that theological framework until it doesn’t.”

“It’s not just a belief system. It’s an abusive relationship with an abusive deity.” 

“I tried to salvage my faith … but the slipery slope is really as slippery as they say.”

“It just all came apart in my hands until nothing was left”

Links

Painful Post-Christian Prayers
https://www.instagram.com/painfulpostchristianprayers/

Recommendations

Online deconversion communities

https://www.facebook.com/groups/deconversion

Podcasts

The Phil Drysdale Show podcast
https://www.phildrysdale.com/theshow/

Books

Wayward by Alice Greczyn

Leaving the Fold by Marlene Winell 

#AmazonPaidLinks

Interact

Alice Greczyn
https://gracefulatheist.com/2021/01/31/alice-greczyn-wayward/
https://gracefulatheist.com/2019/07/25/alice-greczyn-dare-to-doubt/

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Matt: Deconversion of a Missionary

Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Dones, ExVangelical, Missionary, Podcast, Secular Community
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Matthew. Matthew grew up in the Pentacostal tradition and went from being a youth leader in high school to a full-time international missionary as an adult. He had all the right answers to all the important questions. 

The missionary life, however, didn’t turn out as he’d expected. He and his team did everything in their power to tell people about Jesus but nothing supernatural was happening. Year after year, “the hiddenness of God” became too much for Matthew. 

It hasn’t been easy for Matthew to arrive where he is now—living a freer life, not having to have all the answers, not having to wait for the supernatural to happen. He loves the people closest to him, enjoys his friends and acquaintances without judgment, and those small things are what can slowly change the world.

Tweet-worth Quotes

“For a long time, I was doing mental gymnastics to make things work…”

“I was asking everybody, ‘How do you know?!’ And all of the answers were so unsatisfying.” 

“I’m trying really hard [to communicate clearly with my kids] and I’m not able. But God, by definition, is able but doesn’t seem to be trying very hard.” 

Recommendations

YouTube

Religion for Breakfast
https://www.youtube.com/c/ReligionForBreakfast

Digital Hammurabi
https://www.youtube.com/c/DigitalHammurabi

Esoterica
https://www.youtube.com/c/ESOTERICAchannel

Paulogia
https://www.youtube.com/c/Paulogia

Organizations

The Clergy Project
https://clergyproject.org/

Books

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Elizabeth: Deconversion Anonymous

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Podcast, Quiver Full
Elizabeth
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

This week’s guest is Elizabeth. Elizabeth grew up in what she calls a “Methodist Baptist” church, mostly Methodist but with more conservatism and even some charisma thrown in. 

Elizabeth loved church as a kid, but as a teen, things were harder: purity culture demands, a youth pastor leaving abruptly and even a camp with exorcisms. Looking back, Elizabeth sees a theme: The parents did little to help the kids feel and be safe. 

After graduation, Elizabeth went to a Baptist college where she met (again!) and married her now-husband. When adversity hit, trying to expand their family, they saw their Christian friends’ true colors. 

“People can be really, really cruel when they’re just saying what they’ve been taught. They’re not thinking about the flip side of what they’re saying.”

Throughout a difficult pregnancy, crying out to God, Elizabeth thought, No one is listening and no one is coming to save me. She continued hoping, though, only to be let down again and again. Church people will not support you and no god is coming to save you. 

“It feels like I spent my whole life pushing a really heavy dresser down a hallway…and everybody around me is saying, ‘You can do it because your best friend is on the other side holding it…’ 

Elizabeth sees that it was here. She was the strong and resilient one all along. She bore the load, the emotional, physical and mental weight. No one—neither supernatural or human—showed up to help. 

“When there was one set of footprints they were mine.”

Now, on the other side of faith, Elizabeth has her immediate family and a strong community of friends, diverse people walking alongside her. She no longer looks to the sky for help, but knows she has all she needs inside her and right around her. 

My analogy is that I’ve been carrying a tall, heavy piece of furniture my whole life, and all that time everyone around me has been telling me that my best friend is on the other end helping me. When I’ve asked to see that friend, they’ve said I just need to trust that he’s there, of course he is, because I wouldn’t be able to carry the load if he wasn’t. When I asked him to talk to me, I didn’t hear anything, but convinced myself that of course he was there. When I finally decided to set down the load and see for myself, I discovered that I’d actually been carrying it on my own the whole time, and that I’ve always been stronger than I gave myself credit for.

Interact

Review: Hell is the absence of God
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/06/04/review-hell-is-the-absence-of-god/

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Shannon: Deconversion Anonymous

Agnosticism, Atheism, Comedy, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Podcast, secular grief, Thought Experiments
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

This week’s guest is Shannon. Shannon’ story delves into the emotional experience of deconversion. Shannon grew up in an Independent Fundamental Baptist church, where the teachings were pernicious.

“It’s like ‘Love Jesus. Love God. And be afraid of demons, ‘cause they’re everywhere and they’re going to get you!’”

As a teen and into adulthood, Shannon knew her own beliefs and convictions did not always align with her church or family. She tried to be who they wanted her to be, but her decisions were never quite enough for them. 

“…showed me that no matter what I give, there will always be one step further. It’s just not good enough.”

Over the years, she slowly, like “mental velcro,” ripped out the only beliefs she had known. Where her family couldn’t hold space for her questions, her husband could. It was a hard journey, but she wasn’t on it alone.

“From, mentally saying, ‘This isn’t real. I think I’m done’ to being done? It was torture.”

Today, Shannon misses the certainty she used to have, the path laid out in front of her with easy answers. But she is able to see the world with new eyes—the glory and majesty of nature, the wonders of scientific inquiry. It has changed her for the better, and she isn’t looking back. 

“To me? [Evolutionary change] is magic.”

Recommendations

Thought Experiments For Believers
https://gracefulatheist.com/2018/12/03/thought-experiments-for-believers/

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

Review of Hell is the Absence of God
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/06/04/review-hell-is-the-absence-of-god/

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Seth: Deconversion Anonymous

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Podcast
click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

This week’s guest is Seth. Seth was the oldest child in a large homeschooling family who attended attended mostly non-denominational churches. He was always studious and had read through the Bible multiple times before adulthood. 

In high school, Seth made his faith his own and dove deeply into Youth Earth Creationism. He studied at a state university and a few years after graduation began work at The Creation Museum.

“It was a dream come true for me but also turned into not-a-very-good experience…”

While living near the museum, Seth was introduced to a fringe religious movement he describes as “Messianic Judaism meets evangelicalism meets conspiracy theories.” In the Hebrew Roots movement, Seth discovered teachings he’d not encountered before and some doubts began to creep in. 

[Sharing the gospel] I went into detail on all the doctrine and as I was saying I realized I wouldn’t believe it if I were hearing it from somebody else.

Over the next year, Seth continued to experience conflicts between YEC and Hebrew Roots. The two ways of thinking were at odds—flat earth or round, scientific cosmology or the broken body of a leviathan? 

My faith “tendon” was getting stretched and stretched and stretched.

There was a point … it felt like part of my brain just broke and almost in an instant I realized I couldn’t believe anymore.

By 2020, Seth realized he was an atheist, no longer able to convince himself to believe again. 

So, finally realizing that I didn’t believe and admitting to my self I was an atheist was some of the most terrifying moments of my life on an emotional level.

“I was climbing up that slope the whole time, getting closer and closer to God and then…I stepped over the edge, and I just plummeted.”

Recommendations
Books
  • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Youtube

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Anne: Deconversion Anonymous

Adverse Religious Experiences, Artists, Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Dones, ExVangelical, Podcast, Religious Abuse, The Bubble
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

This week’s guest is Anne. Anne grew up in a loving and happy Christian home in a large city where her father pastored a small reformed church.

“We were cloistered as this little wonderful diverse congregation.”

As a teen, her faith was very real to her, and a few years later, she attended a Christian college, but struggled mentally and physically. 

“I was trying to figure out what made me a christian aside from the fact that…I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke, I didn’t blah blah blah.”

Anne left that school and attended a Bible college, but she quickly realized she would be excluded from most ministry opportunities because of her gender.

“I thought, ‘You know? What is out there for me?’”

After a short and sometimes insulting experience in children’s ministry and then a sickness that went on for man years, Anne felt like God had “benched” her, but she continued praying and hoping.

“I was such a magical thinker…”

Over the next many years, Anne’s family met one obstacle after another—toxic or cult-like churches, physical and mental illnesses, Christians backing Trump and even loved ones passing away. Finally, she couldn’t take any more.

“I couldn’t hear from God…I couldn’t worship. I couldn’t hypnotize myself with the piano. I couldn’t do anything…[I was] done.”

Then during the Pandemic, Anne read a single book that made her stop and think for a moment. Then, her questions started coming and couldn’t be stopped. From the outside, it may seem like Anne’s deconversion was quick, but she had given God plenty of time to reveal himself. 

Recommendations

Books 

Jesus & John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez
https://amzn.to/388uqxl

#AmazonPaidLinks

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Bethany: Deconversion Anonymous

Adverse Religious Experiences, Autonomy, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Hell Anxiety, Podcast, Purity Culture, Secular Grace
Mt. Rainier
Picture of Mt Rainier
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

This week’s Deconversion Anonymous guest is Bethany. Bethany grew up in the Pacific Northwest, attending an Assemblies of God church. It was an insular experience of their brand of Christianity against the world.

The older Bethany got, the scarier the church doctrines—eternal torment, losing one’s salvation, the Apocalypse, faith healing that doesn’t always work and even demons under her bed.

“[My dad and his friends] were warriors for Christ, going out into the world fighting evil forces, but as a child, it was so scary to me…”

Bethany was a conscientious and sensitive teen. She ardently believed what she was taught and would believe even if it led to martyrdom.

“…[My parents and church] weren’t that extreme; I felt like I became really extreme.”

In college, Bethany got exposed to reformed theology and progressive Christianity. She began to think, “There is no, ‘God says,’ or ‘Scripture says.’ These are all interpretations.”

After college, Bethany moved to California. She immediately joined a church, but it wasn’t the same. She was no longer tied to it the way she had been; she finally had space to think for herself.

“It felt more like I had been indoctrinated my whole life, a constant stream of indoctrination…and then I finally got a break.”

In California, Bethany’s been able to think, hike, read and realize who she is without outside influence, but it hasn’t been easy. She’s been afraid and uncertain, still haunted by some of her old beliefs. But she is free and life is full even while she is still “in process.”

“Maybe I’m worthwhile in myself, and I can have strength and autonomy in myself.”

Book Recommendations

#PaidAmazonLinks

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

My interviews with Alice Greczyn
https://gracefulatheist.com/2021/01/31/alice-greczyn-wayward/
https://gracefulatheist.com/2019/07/25/alice-greczyn-dare-to-doubt/

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

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

Support the podcast
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Picture of Mt. Rainier by Bethany

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

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
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Emily: Deconversion Anonymous

Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, ExVangelical, Hell Anxiety, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Trauma
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 Emily. Emily grew up in an Evangelical Free Church in the rural Midwest. She was on the Cubbies-Sparks-AWANA track. Around age 10, Her dad switched careers, went into ministry and she became a pastor’s kid. Her early childhood church experiences were fairly positive, but from a young age, she struggled with a severe fear of hell and the rapture.

The youth group setting was horribly unsuited to a sensitive introvert like Emily. She was miserable, being forced to attend churches where she didn’t know anyone except her parents. This discomfort in Christian circles continued into college.

After college, Emily spent a year in London working on a master’s degree. She immersed myself in the city’s amazing performing arts scene and met a lot of people with totally different backgrounds and beliefs to hers. That year expanded her horizons; when she moved back to the US, she pursued a career in performing arts administration.

For the first few years after grad school, Emily wasn’t ready to reject everything, saying she didn’t believe in God. However, she had no interest in going to church, praying, reading the Bible, etc. Then the 2016 election happened. She watched with horror as Christians whom she loved and admired went all-in for Trump. At that point, she wanted nothing more to do with Christianity.

[The White Evangelical embrace of Trump] turned my indifference that I had had towards Christianity into a feeling of disgust.
I want nothing to do with this.
I was so disillusioned and just repelled by it.

In the past 2-3 years Emily has really done the hard work of figuring out what she believes now and addressing the harm that her Christian background has caused. Emily has had to work through the baggage of purity culture as she is in her first long term relationship.

Therapy with a focus on religious trauma has been helpful; Emily is discovering who she is–relishing the arts and experiencing the joy of being a human being.

I’m so much happier now that I’ve left Christianity. As someone with a deep appreciation of the arts, I’ve found so much joy in embracing the beauty that humans create – music, theater, literature, etc. – without the need to glorify God as the source of inspiration. I love being able to navigate relationships and shape my life on my own terms, rather than trying to fit into the prescribed narrative that evangelical Christianity boxes people into. I also like sleeping in on Sundays!

Interact

We are very excited to announce the new private Deconversion Anonymous Facebook Group. The group will be administered by Arline from episode 71. Please join us in building a community of graceful human beings.

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

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

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

Support the podcast
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
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