David Ames: Graceful Atheist interviewed by Sam and Daniel

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Humanism, Naturalism, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Community, Secular Grace, secular grief
It me.
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This week I am being interviewed by Sam and Daniel from the When Belief Dies podcast. The focus is on what I have changed my mind about since beginning work in the secular community. We discuss the following topics:

This episode is a sister episode to Daniel and me interviewing Sam on When Belief Dies. Both episodes are dropping at the same time. You can see me in the YouTube version interviewing Sam.


If you are interested in producing music for the Graceful Atheist Podcast, the sound I am looking for has a strong baseline and beat with gospel church organ, potentially with R&B or Gospel vocal samples. Here is a playlist to inspire you to Gospel R&B Beats. Get in touch.


There were several places in the episode where I forgot names. I’ll mention them here.

It is Tim Sledge who talks about “exceptions to the rule of faith” in his book, Goodbye Jesus.

It is Carolyn Golden, Psy.D. who discusses attribution and schema on the Life After God podcast
Episode: How and Why We Believe

Brian Peck is quoted multiple times. Here is my interview with Brian:


When Belief Dies


My Deconversion Story

Telling my deconversion story on Voices of Deconversion


Secular Grace

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Photo graphic design by Logan Thomas, Beyond Belief

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Ian Redfearn: Meaning Making

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Humanism, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Secular Community, Secular Grace, secular grief
Ian Refearn
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My guest this week is Ian Redfearn. Ian deconverted over 12 years ago. Since then he has continued to obsess over his deconversion. He is still asking the why? and how? questions. Ian is concerned with the deep questions of life and continuing to find ways to make meaning.

When people ask the question, “why did you leave it?”
I say it came down to credibility and integrity.
Credibility, I no longer found it credible to talk about a loving interventionist god against the reality of what was going on in my life and in the life of those around me and in the world.
And integrity, in that, I just couldn’t keep on pretending.

Ian has experienced the full force of the chaotic world we live in. His 24-year-old son has Cystic Fibrosis which is particularly frightening during an airborne pandemic. His father is experiencing Alzheimer’s Disease. All of this is happening during the time of Covid 19.

In spite of the difficulties of life, Ian has a joy and a sense of purpose. He is a committed father, husband, son and community member. He takes time to wonder at the beauty in the world. He recognizes that relationships are what give us our most valued meaning in life.

So there is much to wonder … are we allowed to use the word transcendent? Just that which completely expands your mind.
So there is meaning in that.

But above all else I think there is meaning in relationship and for anyone going through this that will not change you will find the relationships that matter.

Also don’t stop giving … you will find meaning in reaching out and helping those less fortunate than yourself.
That will serve to give your life meaning

He is now attending the Manchester Sunday Assembly and becoming an active member of the Secular community.

All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.



Sunday Assembly Manchester
Zoom 11am (GMT) Sunday mornings  https://zoom.us/j/2472709402

What is your favorite #DeconversionSong?

Music is important to Ian and it influenced his deconversion and how he talks and feels about it now.

Use the hashtag #DeconversionSong to tell us your favorite deconversion song

Here are some of Ian’s favorites:

My favorite is A Great Big World’s Say Something


Secular Grace


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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Suandria Hall: My Choice My Power

Adverse Religious Experiences, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Podcast, Race, Religious Abuse, Religious Trauma, Secular Community, secular grief
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My guest this week is Suandria Hall. Suandria is a trauma informed counselor specializing in faith transitions. Her practice, My Choice My Power, is online and she offers mental health counseling to residents in Colorado and life coaching sessions online, by phone, and email for anyone.

What is more important to me than anything is being honest and being authentic about who I am and who I choose to be in this world.
While pretending for a moment seemed easy.
I really had no concept about how much I was about to unravel.
Once I make this choice to say this out loud that I don’t believe this any more. What does that even mean?
But I took a leap and I started to say out loud that I don’t believe this any more.

Suandria tells her story of being groomed for ministry in a very Charismatic community with rigorous honesty. In her early adulthood she began to question and eventually deconverted. She had a positive experience with a therapist who “held space” for her shifting faith positions. She then went on to become a secular counselor to help others through the same process.

What they are looking for is someone who doesn’t force any type of spirituality in the practice.
They just want to show up and say let me just talk through some stuff.

We talk about the power of parents to influence children. And the damage that can occur when parents pass that responsibility on to an invisible god.

The child learns that the love the adoration the loyalty the devotion
that a mother and a child would share with each other is now shifted.
So now god becomes the number one.

Her approach to counseling is trauma informed and acknowledges Adverse Religious Experiences and religious trauma. She helps people going through the process of deconstruction and deconversion while being open to all faith positions.

Trauma is when our bodies our systems becomes overwhelmed, flooded with emotions, flooded with bodily sensations.
It gets stuck.


Suandria’s Counseling Site



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While these points may be a part of your thinking about religion or harmful religious experiences, they are not the foundation of religious trauma. WE ARE TRAUMATIZED when our central nervous system (movements, bodily sensations, thoughts, speech, memory) is… • overwhelmed, altering the way we process and recall memories (Van Der Kolk) • unresolved or incompleted responses (Levine) • overstimulated repeatedly and cumulatively, usually over a period of time and within specific relationships and contexts (Courtois) In plain terms, religious trauma is when your ability to respond and create or experience safety is interrupted by TOO MUCH ENERGY unable to release or complete within religious context. In even plainer terms, your brain & body says "Hey, it's time to take care of yourself and here's the blood flow, chemicals, and hype to do it", but you don't because your religion has taught you to obey, stay silent, trust others (God, the Word, leaders, the group) instead of yourself. You live over stimulated, ready, and "ON" which can look like anxiety, fear, tension. Compliance dampens the discomfort. Examples and potential effects: I want to meet other people outside of our community/beliefs. NO–they are dangerous, sinful, will lead you astray. Obey. Must tow the line to maintain relationships and community acceptance. Kept away from people, cultures, and beliefs unlike yours. Can perpetuate social issues like racism and inequality based on ignorance. I want another my path, explore my interests. NO–stay in God's will. Doubt your ability to make decisions. Limit education and opportunities. Blocks creativity and exploration. Wait for someone or something else to guide you. Hyper-spiritualized decision making. I'm curious about sex and sexuality and want to have ownership of my body. NO–your body is not your own, submit and obey, in heterosexual marriage only. Struggle with intimacy, sexuality, and sometimes even routine health screenings. —– Even when you KNOW you can make another choice you don't because YOUR BODY reminds you that you can't. This is trauma work. This work isn't anti-religion. This work is pro-human experience. #sundaymorning

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Adverse Religious Experiences series

Steps of Deconversion

Full show notes

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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats