Brette: Deconversion Anonymous

Adverse Religious Experiences, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Podcast, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma
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This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Brette. Brette was so serious about her Christianity in junior high her goal was martyrdom. In her young adulthood, she followed her pastor’s advice and attended Master’s Commission, similar to a discipleship training program. Her experience there was nothing short of psychological torture.

Of course, everything was always very spiritualized there and this was no exception. Everything was either god or demons. One part of the program was that we all we went through deliverance (exorcism) while we were there that we spent weeks preparing for.

Her faith began breaking down as did her physical and psychological health at Master’s Commission. It included deliverance sessions and enumerating her demons. It wasn’t until she saw her younger brother being treated poorly that she began to question. She and her brother left: “leaving was the BEST feeling!”

But I had finally given myself permission to question things and it all unraveled pretty quickly from there.

After a brief stint in “spiritual but not religious” land, she finally admitted she no longer believed in god. She let go of “trying to make it be true.”

Since then it’s been really interesting to me to look back on my past experiences and understand them from a purely naturalistic and psychological perspective. It was really helpful to learn, too, about Religious Trauma Syndrome.

Brette has since discovered naturalistic and psychological explanations of her experiences that have given her more closure and comfort.

Interact

Interact

Sam (When Belief Dies) GoFundMe for a laptop
https://gofund.me/9bed67a7

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

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

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Attribution

Picture by Brette’s daughter A.

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Arline: Deconversion Anonymous

Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Naturalism, Podcast
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This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Arline. Arline became a Christian in early adulthood. She went to a Christian college where she met her now-husband. Her faith tradition was a severe version of Calvinism. She taught complementarianism. The roles allowed for women and complementarianism were not a good fit for Arline’s inquisitive personality.

Years later I realized that [complementarianism] was a very new thing and I was so angry because I had been taught it was this Bibilcal idea. So in my mind biblical means it has been around for thousands of years. No, it was like 1987. What is this?

Her husband went through an emotional deconversion first. Arline did not take this as well as she would now like. Alongside this was the long slow deterioration of her mother’s health. She slowly began to deconstruct. First by exploring other versions of Christianity. Eventually exploring other faith traditions including meditation from a Buddhist perspective. In short. she was letting her curiosity and intelligence explore all the areas of interest that were previously prohibited.

Here’s the succinct version:
Christian fifteen years, since college.
Super loved Jesus, the Bible, church, all the things.
Tried my darndest to be changed by the Holy Spirit.
Happily married to super Christian guy from campus ministry.
He slowly (felt suddenly to me!) realized he had to be agnostic because god of the Bible is a monster.
Sent me on a two-year spiritual meandering.
Finally caved and am now figuring out what atheism looks like for me.

In the end, for her own personal intellectual integrity she admitted to herself she no longer believed. She has since discovered natural human habits that have helped her far more than her faith ever had.

Links

From the Andy Stanley discussion:
Is it just that I had the wrong image of God?
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/11/17/is-it-just-that-i-had-the-wrong-image-of-god/

Interact

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

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

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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Sarah: Christian Nationalism, Complementarianism and Deconstruction

Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Purity Culture
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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/

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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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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
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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/

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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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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
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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
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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
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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