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
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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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Picture of Mt. Rainier by Bethany

Marla Taviano: Unbelieve

Authors, Autonomy, Book Review, Deconstruction, ExVangelical, Podcast, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Marla Taviano, author of Unbelieve: Poems on the Journey to Becoming a Heretic. Marla grew up in Middle America and moved across the globe and back, searching for God’s will for her life.

She grew up in a loving home and didn’t realize she was in a “white Christian bubble.” Her church was almost all-white, her hometown almost completely white, and then after high school, Marla attended an even smaller completely white, conservative Christian college. 

“I was all-in. [Faith] was all there was to life. That was the focus, the center. My faith was everything to me.”

Marla’s first inkling that something was missing came when she read the book, The Hole in Our Gospel. She had read the Bible many, many times over the years, and here was a new revelation—2,000+ verses about helping the poor?

four-letter words
if you’ve never lived inside / the bubble of
evangelical Christianity it / might surprise you
to find that l-o-v-e / and p-o-o-r were new
and controversial subjects for me / at age 35

From  Unbelieve: Poems on the Journey to Becoming a Heretic

Less than a decade later, while she and her family were part of a multiethnic church plant, Marla began to see more “holes” in Christianity, namely racism and white supremacy. Her eyes were slowly beginning to open.

“Once you start to uncover things, it really is a slippery slope or ‘the unraveling’…It’s all connected. You can’t stop.”

Since 2015, Marla has been back and forth to Cambodia, written a book of poetry, started an incredibly popular bookstagram, been through a painful divorce, connected tons of people to one another and is still sharing her knowledge and wisdom with her followers.

“I feel that there are so many Christians who just go along in their happy little lives and nothing really rattles them, and nothing really happens. So they’re not forced to question things or consider things…”

In her search for truth, Marla asks, “Is this loving to my neighbor?” She may not be certain what her beliefs are right now, but she does believe that love is what will change the world. 

Links

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/marlataviano/
https://www.instagram.com/whitegirllearning/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/marlataviano

Amazon Paid Links

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Jeffrey Caldwell: Humanist Hospice Chaplain

Atheism, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Community, Secular Grace, secular grief
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Jeffrey Caldwell. Jeffrey grew up in Lancaster county, PA in a liberal denomination set in a conservative area. As a child, church was “okay,” filled with the usual things—bible crafts in Sunday school and singing in the choir. His family was “quasi-religious,” so no one was ever pressured to believe anything.

Jeffrey doubted whether Christianity was real throughout middle school. Neither his parents nor his siblings took it very seriously, so he left church in high school but was still searching for meaning. 

Music, books and movies filled the space that religion often does. Eventually, his interest expanded to include philosophy, politics, social justice, all influenced by the “oldies” his dad played in the car. 

“I was fascinated by this idea of just ordinary, everyday people banding together to solve whatever problems they were facing…”

In his twenties, Jeffrey struggled with mental health issues and after a surprise encounter with a church youth group, he knew he was missing community.

“I recognized instantly that that’s what I was looking for in my life, some place where I felt like I belonged, some place where I felt like people valued me for who I was. But at the same time, I realized that I wasn’t a christian.”

He didn’t fit in with the traditional religions, so he tried the UU church. Then he got involved in progressive politics and social justice, and eventually went to seminary and became a chaplain.

“Learning to be a chaplain was learning how to sit with people who are in pain and distress and not be overwhelmed by their pain and distress.”

Now, Jeffrey has a thriving online and in-person community, Connections Humanist Community. Each week, people share stories and conversations. The members belong to a  community where they are valued and heard. Jeffrey is living out what it means to be a “graceful atheist.”

Connections Humanist Community
https://www.meetup.com/connections-humanist-community/

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

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Will: Heretical Theology

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

This week’s guest is Will from Heretical Theology.

Will grew up in a Methodist church until high school, when he began attending youth group in what he now calls the, “cult church.”  Years later, will he and his wife were still at that church, he would have a seemingly supernatural experience at his brother’s church in Florida. The decide to move, and not only was there a megachurch waiting for them, there was also Disney World!

Will and his wife dove right in! They served at the megachurch for about five years when his wife began to doubt her beliefs. Eventually, Will resigned himself to being alone in his faith. 

“Just figured I’d be that church leader who has an unbelieving spouse.”

Slowly, however, Will’s fundamentalist beliefs shifted. He wanted to understand the Bible better, so he could understand his wife better. He decided to take off his “Jesus colored glasses,” and read the Bible differently. It wasn’t long before he had a number of issues with what he was reading. 

Then enters the Republican nomination of Donald Trump. Will felt like he was in the “twilight zone,” not understanding how Christians were getting behind Trump.

“Plot twist: I was a follower of Christ; not a follower of Trump.”

He and his wife stopped going to the main services but were still in small group. The pastor met with Will to discuss “ministry,” but instead Will needed to pour out all his questions and concerns. The pastor dismissed them. It may not have been intentional, but it still hurt. A few months later, he knew he no longer believed. 

“I was like, ‘God and I are done.’”

Today, Will uses Instagram to share what’s learned from the Bible.

“I know some shit about the Bible, and I would like to put that to some good use.”

He’s taking the “decades of useless Bible knowledge” he has to teach and challenge people, in hopes that his followers will outgrow him and move on to do amazing things. 

Recommendations:

  • Sam Harris (books & podcast)
  • Bart Ehrman (books & classes on Wondrium)
  • Paulogia (YouTube)
  • Yuval Noah Harari (Books: Homo Deus21 lessons for the 21st century & Sapiens)

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/heretical_theology/

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Derek Webb: The Jesus Hypothesis

Agnosticism, Deconstruction, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Musicians, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Grace, The Bubble
Derek Webb
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Derek Webb, musician, song writer and public deconstructor. For 10 years, Derek was a member of the Christian rock band, Caedmon’s Call. He then went on to a solo career where he focused on self reflection in his art. During that time, Derek began to desconstruct. He did so publicly in his music and on social media.

Where I find myself, strangely, being more tolerant, or loving or accepting than god is.
Where I feel like I am making apologies for the god of the universe who is supposedly all love.

For Derek’s Fingers Crossed album, “the tale of two divorces,” Derek made himself available to his audience for criticism. He and his team turned this into the podcast, The Airing of Grief. What could have been a public expression of anger and hostility at Derek’s change of heart, wound up being people describing their own deconstruction. It was a poignant reminder that we are not alone in this process.

Wouldn’t you rather lose all of it if the it that you have currently is not a real thing?

Derek’s next album, Targets, is a joyous and rebellious rock celebration of deconstruction. Derek’s current project, The Jesus Hypothesis, takes a second look at his former theological beliefs. For this project, Derek has made himself even more available to his audience by live streaming the writing and recording process for his Patreon supporters.

Because if it is not real I want to know that,
if it is real I want to know that,
and if something else is real I want to know that
and I feel like I know a little more than I used to know
in terms of what is there and what’s not
at least what rings true to me.

Derek is the perfect guest for the podcast as his art, music and personal style exemplify both having an honesty contest and Secular Grace.

Derek’s Website
https://www.derekwebb.com/

The Airing Of Grief
https://www.theairingofgrief.com/

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/derekwebb/

Patreon
https://patreon.com/derekwebb

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous private Facebook group and become a part of the community!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/deconversion

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/

The Bubble
https://gracefulatheist.com/2018/01/15/the-bubble/

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

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Attribution

Transition music by Derek Webb from the Fingers Crossed album

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Ask Me Anything 2021

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Humanism, Podcast, Religious but not Spiritual, Secular Community, Secular Grace
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Ask Me Anything 2021.

Questions from Sheila, Emily, Rick and Mark, Jimmy, Arline, Judah, and Matt.

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

Still Unbelievable
https://anchor.fm/still-unbelievable/episodes/Episode-39—Deconstructing-a-Deconstruction-Deconstruction-els542
https://anchor.fm/still-unbelievable/episodes/Episode-64—Discussing-Sean-McDowell-and-John-Marriot-on-deconversion-part-1-e195h0h

Paulogia on Babylon Bee’s ExVangelicals
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMFQJPKYK28

Exvangelical on Evangelical response to Deconstruction
https://www.irreverent.fm/show/exvangelical-1/on-the-deconstruction-discourse/

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

Anthony Pinn
https://gracefulatheist.com/2020/08/23/dr-anthony-pinn-humanism-and-race/

Amy Rath
https://gracefulatheist.com/2021/06/06/amy-rath-nonelife/

Bart campolo
https://gracefulatheist.com/2020/07/09/bart-campolo-humanize-me/

Why I am not an Anti-Theist
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/10/17/why-i-am-not-an-anti-theist/

My Deconversion Sotry
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/09/10/common-message/

Interact

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

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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

2021 Holiday Special

Deconstruction, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Podcast, Secular Community, Secular Grace, secular grief, Secular Humanist Graces
Photo by Thomas Bormans on Unsplash
Photo by Thomas Bormans on Unsplash
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

The Holidays: The Big White Elephant in the Room

When one has deconverted, the holidays may look completely different, reexamining everything from family traditions to singing carols to dealing with those extended family members. On today’s episode, two returning guests, Arline and Lars and a new guest, Carlene, share how the holidays have and haven’t changed since deconversion. 

Lars and Arline go into what it’s like to be an unbelieving parent during the holidays, navigating the mythologies of Santa and Jesus. Children ask genuine questions, and they expect genuine answers.

The group discusses what they have not given up, among other things, singing Christmas carols. Carols are different than singing religious songs at church, more cultural than sacred. For some, however, it takes a little self-discipline to sing along without critiquing the lyrics. 

The guests also examine what they have thrown in the trash bin completely, including, but not limited to, the phrase “Merry Christmas” and all those nativity scenes. 

Being thankful of the time spent with extended family can be challenging, regardless of religious beliefs. Each person shares how they’re finding their own unique ways of appreciating time with family. Religion does not own the rights to giving thanks. 

Lastly, Carlene, David, Lars and Arline consider some new traditions they’ve started or would like to start. Nature is the easiest place to experience awe and wonder, and everyone discussed ways to be in nature more this winter. Also, creating new traditions can be awkward and may not always turn out quite like we hope.

It is a lovely conversation, full of hope and lots of humor. 

“…It’s scary and new, and that might actually be the best part because your life is in many ways new again…you get to experience so many things for the first time with a new mindset, and this will hopefully enrich your life going forward…”

Lars

Book Recommendations

#PaidLinks

Interact

Send in a recorded AMA question
https://anchor.fm/gracefulatheist/message

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Photo by Thomas Bormans on Unsplash

Movie Review: The Truman Show

Atheism, Comedy, Deconversion, Movie Review, Podcast, Purity Culture, Secular Grace, The Bubble
Listen on Apple Podcasts

“Good afternoon. Good evening. And good night.”

Truman Burbank

This week’s episode is a compelling discussion between David and past podcast guests Jimmy and Colin. They take a deep dive into how The Truman Show mirrors the long, painful journey of deconstruction—realizing the story you’ve been told isn’t quite what it seems, pushing back little by little, and then sometimes leaving completely, walking out the door and into the darkness.

“You never had a camera in my head.”

They consider it all:

  • The induced trauma and fears
  • Infantilization
  • The constant gaslighting
  • The creation and controlling of relationships
  • And the lies–a completely fabricated life.

All done to “love him, protect him.”

“He wanted what was real more than was presented to him.”

Jimmy

They each bring their own stories to the table, stories of courage and uncertainty and a desire for truth, stories that resonate with many people. Like Truman, we can lean in when what we’ve believed no longer lines up with what we’re experiencing. We can be curious, ask questions and see where that journey takes us.

“It is a painful process, and it is scary. But also there’s more on the other side that is very fulfilling.”

Colin

Where to stream The Truman Show
https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/the-truman-show

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