This week’s guest is Amy Logan. Amy is the podcast host of Exmormonology. She is a certified life coach who helps people through exiting Mormonism, deconstructing and thriving in a post-faith life.
Amy was the perfect Mormon girl. She did everything right. She attended BYU. She was married in the Temple. When she discovered a book covering the full history of Mormonism she began to have doubts. Until she had what she describes as the “moment,” sitting in her car crying her eyes out with the realization that she could no longer call herself a Mormon.
If the church is true, it has nothing to fear, and I get to figure this out. It was at that moment I gave myself permission.
She continued on for a while trying to maintain some semblance of belief. She tried to “hang on to Jesus.” But eventually that crumbled too.
Its all bullshit. Everything single thing I believed and held sacred and true it is not real, it just isn’t real.
Today, Amy helps those who have also left the Mormon church live full and healthy lives. Exmormonology is not just for those who have left Mormonism, it is for anyone who has gone through a faith transition.
I knew life was never going to be the same. But I didn’t know that it could be better at that point.
My guest this week is Dr. Clint Heacock. Clint is the host of the Mindshift Podcast that focuses on reconstruction after deconstruction. Clint grew up in the Church of Christ with parents who followed the Bill Gothard method of child rearing. Clint now describes this as cultic practices.
What I need to do is discover the authentic Christianity … and then I wasn’t able to do it.
After pursuing a PhD in Theology in the U.K. while teaching Clint began to recolonize the disparity between what he believed and what he was teaching. The problems with the bible became too much. At the time Clint was hosting a podcast called “Preacher’s Forum.” The content had become too radical for its audience. He then changed the podcast into Mindshift and as his listeners have told him, he began deconstructing in public.
Only when you physically remove yourself and psychologically remove yourself, that’s when you start to think critically.
Clint has has had a focus on cult studies, Christian Dominionism and Christian reconstruction where politics and religion meet. He has had various experts in these fields on his podcast.
Best advice: Get yourself educated
Most important Clint has a heart for people. Just because we no longer are religious does not mean we lose our sense of pastoral care.
NOTE: This transcript is AI produced (otter.ai) and likely has many mistakes. It is provided as rough guide to the audio conversation.
David Ames 0:11
This is the graceful atheist podcast. Welcome, welcome. Welcome to the graceful atheist podcast. My name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. As always, if you like what you hear, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast and the apple podcast store or wherever you get your podcasts that makes the gristle atheist podcast visible to more people. Please also consider letting a friend or family member know about the podcast. I've recently had very fun stories of people introducing the podcast to others. And that is really, really exciting. I hope you're doing well in your social distancing. And hopefully the isolation is not too much reach out to each other and connect with people intentionally during this time of isolation. onto today's show, my guest today is Dr. Clint Heacock. Clint is the podcast host of the mind shift podcast that focuses on reconstruction after deconstruction, post religion. I love this conversation with Clint, you're going to hear both of us talk about a pastoral perspective that we are now using in the secular community. I love the tone of the mind shift podcast and what Clint is doing there. He has specifically focused on cults and dominion theology and the way that politics and religion have come together in the western world today. We also discuss if there's any daylight between the concepts of deconstruction and deconversion. All in all, we have a really good time, and I hope you'll enjoy my conversation with Dr. Clint Heacock. Here's our conversation.
Dr Clint Heacock welcome to the Graceful atheist podcast.
Clint Heacock 2:08
Thank you for having me, David.
David Ames 2:09
Hey, I appreciate it. I've been following your work for some time. Now. I've listened to your podcast, you're the host of the mind shift podcast, I know you're doing a lot of blogging on medium these days. Give us just the five minute overview of the work you're doing there.
Clint Heacock 2:25
Oh, man, we only have five minutes. So
David Ames 2:29
we'll have some time at the end to keep
Clint Heacock 2:30
it short. My podcast is really about helping people to reconstruct after they've deconstructed their religious beliefs. So they've left their faith. And that has led me into a lot of areas. I started out exclusively focusing on kind of the X Evangelical, and which is my backstory, coming out of evangelicalism. But it's led me into all sorts of other fields like cult psychology, Christian reconstructionism, dominion theology, the Christian right Christian nationalism, because that's, that's part of my story, too. So it's part of my reconstruction to understand the way it works, I guess. And it all sort of ties together. So I'm a former Bible college teacher, I was I was in academics for years. So for me, I love to research things. And so as a teacher, I just have to share them. So that's really the heart of what I do. I just want to be a kind of a teacher. It's my outlet, my creative outlet. And you know, if it helps one person, happy days,
David Ames 3:34
I hear you know, I feel the same way about this podcast. This is as much for me as it is anyone else. Like I have to have some expression of all this some way to get this off my chest because otherwise you go insane. So you have to. So you've already hinted at it, but part of what I wanted to have you on is to give you a chance as well, to tell your story. You mentioned evangelicalism, but I'm not sure I know exactly. The factors and you grew up in and what that trajectory looked like.
Clint Heacock 4:02
Well, I was raised in Seattle, Washington. I live here in the UK. Now we've been here about 14 and a half years actually came over here to do a PhD. Yeah. And that's what that's what brought us over here. We luckily we've been able to stay on. So we've this is going to be our home now. You know, we're expatriates and all the rest of it. Right? But I grew up in Seattle, Washington in a really now I would I would say it's a fundamentalist cult, because it was the church was a church of Christ. That was the denomination, okay, but they subscribe to the Bill Gothard which at the time was called the Institute in basic youth conflicts. And so, everybody, not everybody, but our church strongly encouraged everybody, let's say, to attend his seminars, which we did. My family did. I remember going as a kid, 1314 years old, taking notes. And my parents raised us we had a very large family. They raised us according to his teachings, which now I see why me that they're very toxic If I say it's a cult, it is a fundamentalist Bible cults. And so I've done that's kind of part of the cult psychology interest in of mine is I started researching the inner workings of the Gotthard Empire, and quickly came to see that it was a cult to then I realized I was raised in a cult. Yeah. Okay, what does that do? You've got a an the best advice I've heard from many, many ex cultists, and cult experts and psychiatrists is to get yourself educated, educate yourself on what the essentially what they did to you. And so that's kind of where I'm at with this journey. And so yeah, I think I was raised in a very toxic theology. Right? It was the teaching that you had to be baptized in order to be saved as a Christian. So I was baptized ended up getting baptized three times.
David Ames 5:52
Yeah, yeah. That'll make it work. Yeah,
Clint Heacock 5:55
the first time I was about 10, or 11. I'd seen that movie a thief in the night, back in the late 70s. And it terrified me that I was going to be left behind in the rapture, as a many, many, many, many people have reported that experience as young children being absolutely traumatized. And so I went to the pastor, and I said, I need to I need to become a Christian. He said, let's get you baptized. And that was the first you know, so every time I'd get baptized, because I was failing, in my view, as a Christian, so I'd get baptized again. And again, because I was so desperate to make sure that I had it right. Yeah, no, I didn't want to be left behind in the rapture.
David Ames 6:35
I really find this interesting that it's the people who care about it the most. someone like yourself, you really honestly wanted to make sure that you were doing everything properly and correct. Hmm, maybe it was based out of some fear, but it was still a lot of desire to do the right thing. Absolutely. And then that tends to be the people who experience the most trauma at the back end of this. It's true people who
Clint Heacock 7:01
care the most we really wanted to get it right. And besides the theology taught that if you didn't believe the absolute correct, right things, you were one of those people that stood a good chance of being left behind in the rapture. Wow. So in our case, I would say now, what they call the good news of the gospel was not good news at all. Because that opened me up into a world of absolute anxiety, stress, pressure, what they call religious group velocity, which is constantly monitoring ever, it's an obsessive compulsive type thing. But it's instead of OCD, washing your hands 1000 times a day. You're you're watching every thought that you think and every action that you do, and everything, you know, because God's always watching you. And anything that you do might, you know, make you a candidate for being left behind, or not being a Christian? So I probably pray the sinners prayer, you know, 1000s of times, because I just was every night I'd lay there in bed and think, Oh, my God, you know what, if the rapture happens tonight, I better make sure that I'm covered, because I read it again. And that's what led me to keep getting baptized because I was convinced that I wasn't a Christian. And, you know, the formula hadn't worked the first time. And then the second time, and then the third time. Just keep trying. Yeah, definitely. Crazy.
David Ames 8:24
Sounds like you were very dedicated as well, you ultimately went on to seek an education in theology as well. Yeah. All right.
Clint Heacock 8:31
And now I see it, I went to Bible college, I did two masters degrees, and I did a PhD. And I realized now a lot of my motivation, at the time, I didn't see it that way, then. But I was it was to genuinely help people avoid the same kind of pitfalls that I had fallen into. Growing up in church, I was determined, I was going to go to Bible college, then I was gonna go to seminary, I was going to study the Greek study the Hebrew, really take a deep dive into the Bible and theology so that I could explain it to other people in a clear and helpful way. Right, which led me into becoming a pastor and then a Bible college teacher. Because I mean, I am a teacher at heart, I can't help but that's how I'm wired. It's true. And so for me, it was a natural fit, you know, what better thing to teach than the Bible, preach it. And if I could help somebody by my explanation of a particular passage, or Old Testament, New Testament book or whatever, then I was doing my job as a pastor as a spiritual leader. And I see that now that's that was my drive to be a pastor, which, ironically, is a lot of the same drive that I have now. I'm still kind of pastoring people. Weirdly, there's a lot of ex ex pastors out there that say the same thing that we still feel like we're doing pastoral work, it's just we're not we're not preaching the Bible or leading people to Christ anymore.
David Ames 9:54
Yeah, you know, I often say that, you know, when we when we lose our faith, that doesn't mean that we don't need Eat, connection and belonging and in some cases pastoral care, right? community, it's a human need that we have. And that's the best of religion is how it can bring people together. Obviously, we're talking about the darker side of things. But I'm very fascinated. And we'll maybe talk about this a little bit later of how we recreate the best parts of that in a, a more secularized environment.
Clint Heacock 10:28
Absolutely, it's true that one thing that church, on some levels they do well, and that is offer community. Yeah, you know, someone Someone said once that it's, it's a ready made community, you just have to slot into it. It's all there. It's all the pieces are there. Once you do the right thing, say the right things, whatever the denomination, or tradition has you do get baptized or get confirmation or you know, Bar Mitzvah, or whatever your rite of passage is? Yeah, then you're accepted. And it's a wonderful thing to be part of a community of people that believe the same things you do more or less, and you're accepted. And you're you do have community I mean, I have I had, and still do have some wonderful friendships and relationships from the church. When I was a pastor, and before I was a pastor, you know, so I don't take that lightly. But like you said, we as humans, we need it. Yeah, exactly. The church is offering it, so why not just slot into become a Christian?
David Ames 11:28
You know, just briefly my story, you know, I was at a really a cultural, Christian, my, my family were, they were believers, but it was very passive. And when my mom got clean and sober, and she had a kind of an epiphany experience, then we got very, very religious, very fundamentalist. And, you know, I sometimes point out the difference between the people who were raised in it, like if you were raising as a child, the trauma inducing nature of their fear of the rapture, or the fear of going to hell, if you know, as a child, how do you grapple with that, versus even just being a teenager when I converted? You know, I had some sense of who I was as a person and some ability to this is all hindsight, you know, but some ability to separate that and to recognize, that was a little less trauma experience. For me personally, I know, you've talked to lots of people on your podcast. Have you noticed that at all? Have you talked to people that converted at different ages? Yes, in
Clint Heacock 12:28
fact, I have a bunch of recordings, I haven't had time to edit them down into a complete episode. But I was going to do a study on the differences between first and second generation, religious people, not just limited to Christianity, but cults as well, wherever religions that they were a part of, as you say, there's there is a massive difference between first what they call first and second generation religions or cults. And the biggest difference that I found is that for people who come into it later in life, they develop a process. It's where Robert lifts, and he's a psychologist that did a lot of seminal work on cults and brainwashing. He describes it as this process called doubling, where you almost create a second self, and you have to fit into the group. And you have your authentic self, which is the real you. And then you have the religious self that you almost have to create. They live side by side in a way to fit into the group and, you know, be accepted in that wonderful community. We were talking about the difference between first generation or people second generation who were raised in it, they only ever had the religious identity. That's all we had. So I never experienced doubling, because I never had any other personality other than the religious one. So that's a whole different journey out because it was my whole worldview was I believed it. My parents said it was true. The pastor said it was true. These are authority figures that I trusted, I believed them. Why would they lie to me? They weren't lying to me. They were they believed it. Right. They were convinced. Yeah, they were committed. They I'm not I'm not saying they misled us intentionally. But the damage was done nonetheless. And so disentangling from that is, in some ways, a lot more difficult than someone who? Well, it's a different journey, I should say. It's not not about ease of transition. Some people have a much harder time on either path.
David Ames 14:20
Yeah. You know, the thing that I'm relating to the most here so for me, I recognize that doubling and my life I've, I was convinced that the church didn't understand grace. As you can see, I've carried over some of those ideas into the secular world. But ironically, when I became a Christian, I thought, you know, I read particularly the the Gospels, and I thought, Man, this concept of grace is so amazing, and it's just that the people who have been in church for so long they forgotten. I just don't remember how powerful this is. And I thought, and I again, I relate to the teacher thing, if I just teach them if I just have the right words, you know, they're gonna get it, things are going to be different. And one of the things I recognize eyes was that people were not their authentic selves, there was the need to present an image. Because if they were honest, they would be judged. And it wasn't possible to be your authentic self. And my theory was that that's what we're where we needed to get to was the ability to have enough acceptance and grace that we could be our authentic selves with each other sorted out, that wasn't going to work. But
Clint Heacock 15:27
it was a horrible failure. I can Yeah, that was, yeah, I can resonate with that, because that was kind of my philosophy of ministry, as a pastor. And then later, when I taught, I taught for about eight years in a Bible college, over here in the UK. And that was really my driving focus for my students, because they were all heading into ministry. And so I was always teaching them that they need to be raising up men and women to be the person God made them to be. That was my kind of thing, you know, and to be your authentic self. And I didn't see the irony is, of course at the time, but I was on that same trajectory, of trying to encourage people to be real to be themselves, blah, blah, blah. But as you say, most churches are not safe. Yeah, they're not a safe space. So you can't afford to be real. Because as you say, you could be judged, you can be ostracized, that's the dark side of that lovely community, we were talking about, where one minute you're in it, and then you enter into the cult psychology, which again, lifted calls the dispensing of existence, you don't have the right to exist, because you've questioned things or you've bucked the status quo. So you're gone. You're out of here, right? And that's how it works. You're shunned.
David Ames 16:36
Yeah, and that shunning that that's the loss of that community that is devastating to people? Absolutely. I think the reason that people stay in for so long, even when they begin to have doubts is the idea of walking away from that community is a huge mountain to climb.
Clint Heacock 16:54
Well, and part of that is to the sub, the sunk cost fallacy. There's I think that's operative as well, as well as the cognitive dissonance. You get to that point where you've put so much into the thing that you can't you can't envision envision any other options other than to stay in right now. Maybe it's gonna get better. Yeah, it has its downsides. And there's people that gossip and backstab and some horrible things happen. And I got burned here and there, but look at the money I've spent, look at the time I've invested. Yeah. And that's part of the deconstruction and reconstruction piece for people that spent, you know, I mean, look at me, I spent decades spending money and spending incredible amounts of time going into schools, and studying and teaching and writing and doing all this stuff for what, you know, for what, yeah, the only thing I have to show for it, someone said to me the other day that the one good thing about all the background that you've got is that it allows you to speak knowledgeably about theology and Bible and you can, you know, talk about this stuff from from an informed perspective. I'm not an insider, and outside or looking in, we were part of the system. So we know what we're talking about. Yeah,
David Ames 18:06
if only that respect were given, I think. Yeah, I think we're often seen as the, you know, wolves in sheep's clothing. And so anything you say is just dismissed.
Clint Heacock 18:17
Well, and we're, uh, we're like, ironically, we're in the midst of this Coronavirus, but it were seen as like a contagious virus. I think people that leave the church, especially that were high profile leaders, and I talked to Tim sledge, he wrote the book, goodbye Jesus and all that. But he was a megachurch pastor out of Houston, Texas, I mean, guys that were profile high profile like him. They have vilified him left, right and center, because they kind of have to, you know, when of high profile person stuff like Josh Harris, the guy who wrote I kiss dating goodbye, he repudiated it all. And then they ripped him to shreds. You know, there's been several high profile people that have left recently and you read the articles in the Facebook posts, man. They have to say there they were never a Christian in the first place. And you know, all that.
David Ames 19:08
It's it. Yeah, it's definitely terrible. I wonder what you would say to those people like what does any deconversion or any deconstruction, those high profile ones, in particular, say to the people who are still in the bubble?
Clint Heacock 19:23
That's a hard one because it's it's part of that cult psychology. I don't think evangelicalism as a whole is a cult. It's too broad. It's too diverse. It's not a monolith. But there are many, many, many cultic tactics and psychological mind control things that go on within churches. So you have to realize that you're talking to people who, to some extent, are in a bubble. That something that Rick Ross says he's a cult expert. He said that when you're in the bubble, and you're receiving their downloads, it's very very hard to think critically. Only when you physically remove yourself and psychologically remove yourself and unplug as it were from the system and stop receiving their downloads. That's when you start to think critically. But if you're in the midst of the what million what liftin calls milieu control, you're in the milieu that's being controlled by the people at the top. You know, you're literally under their control. Yeah, we never saw it that way. I'm sure you know, when we were part of the system.
David Ames 20:29
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I've heard what you've just said there in different terms before that did an interview with Cassidy who's the blogger behind roll to disbelieve. And part of her deconversion story was prayer group that they were trying to start. And they only had three people and they were in some closet and a college and you know, didn't have the context. She realized in that moment that she was trying to create the feeling of God's presence, and that it wasn't there. That snap for her. That was the thing that broke her out of the bubble where she could see, oh, it depends on the context. Or in your words, the Milu. You know that? Yeah, it's an environment that you're in whether this makes sense or not.
Clint Heacock 21:14
Absolutely. And the next, these are all what Robert liftin, he has these eight markers of cults. milieu controls, the first one, the second one is mystical manipulation, which is exactly what you were just describing. When you go into, let's say, a church, you don't realize that you're entering into a milieu or a context that is being you're being manipulated. And it's creating an environment with music and the lighting and the ambiance. And the preacher, and the whole context is manipulated in such a way to make you feel and to you, you are literally on a genuine emotional journey. You really are. There's no question about it. The music is unbelievable, especially in some of these churches where they've got fantastic worship bands. I mean, yeah, like Hillsong, or Yeah, I mean, it's a full on professional concert, you're you're going to see a band that's every bit as good as any professional band is going to be on stage in a major stadium. Yeah, musically, professionally, and they are at the top of their game and they can play the crowd and move you from fast, upbeat tempo songs to slower, more introspective songs, the lighting comes down. Yeah, man, it's it is it is genuinely moving. There's no question about it. But what they do is they ascribe that to God, as you said, and then here comes the sermon. And here's 3040 minutes of rah rah Jesus indoctrination. Few more songs, and you're pumped up. And but it's a religious addiction, because you have to go back the next week to experience the same high, you know, you're always chasing that experience. And so you've got to come back to church and get it again.
David Ames 22:50
Yeah, definitely. And I think music is such a human connection. For us. It is, when we participate in a shared musical experience. That is a really bonding moment, right now, as we're recording, you know, we know that COVID-19 is an epidemic, a pandemic. And the things that we see that go viral are people out on their verandas, you know, singing with each other,
Clint Heacock 23:12
right, like the Italians singing across to each other.
David Ames 23:15
Exactly. It's like that is just something that we need to do. It really is, in a way the religion has kind of hijacked that and taken over,
Clint Heacock 23:24
that made use of it. And absolutely, I mean, I played in worship bands for years, I'm a drummer, and I felt that emotional, you get that connection with the audience. If, if you hit the pocket, kind of like a thing, where you know how it is, if you're playing live, whether you're playing rock and roll, or blues or worship music, if you hit in the right, the notes with the crowd, as it were, they get into it. And there's this symbiotic relationship between you and the audience. And I mean, I can remember many times where the worship leader would turn and, you know, let's go around again, let's go around it because yeah, there's something happened in here. You can see the audience really getting moved emotionally. And so let's play another bar. Let's play another verse. Let's, you know, keep the chorus going. And we would just flow with it. And we would say at the time, well, we were flowing with the Spirit, man. That's what it was all about. We were just, you know, the Holy Spirit took over and we were just riding the wave and I play in a rock and blues band. I felt the same thing playing AC DC songs. Yeah.
David Ames 24:25
Clint Heacock 24:26
We used to end our set with the song from Rocky Horror Picture Show, the time warp, you know, and that always went down just as big as any worship song in a church, you know? Yeah. Nothing like seeing like 400 Bikers doing the time warp dance. At a biker rally. Yeah, totally. It's amazing. And it has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit.
David Ames 24:46
Right? It literally is resonance. Right? It's that like people their emotions are feeding on one another and there's a resonant quality to that and it's feeding back to the musicians and theatre just it's a positive feedback loop. You
Clint Heacock 25:00
This, and it's a wonderful thing. You know, if you're a musician, you know how it feels. There's a high from playing on stage live. And there's a high from being in a crowd. That's where the band is really killing it. We've all been to concerts, secular concerts, I'm sure where we've seen bands that just blew our minds. Yeah, you know, and it was an emotional experience to see that, especially when you have a band that you've really loved for years, and then they come to town, and you've never seen them live before. Like, oh, man, I got tickets to see these guys. They just exceeded your expectations, you know, and you're on a high. Yeah, and it absolutely is. So you can replicate that in the church? Absolutely.
David Ames 25:39
I realized that we've kind of gone way out of order here. And I do want to return to some of these subjects. But I want to just real quick, don't want to lose track of what for you personally. klant were the cracks that started to form the doubts that ultimately lead to deconstruction for you. Well, I
Clint Heacock 25:56
see it now. I didn't see it at the time I see it now as the cognitive dissonance was surfacing. And maybe that was my authentic self somehow in there, even though I was mostly that religious, still was the real me going, Hey, this doesn't add up. And I can remember, even in Bible college, I felt like a hypocrite because I was preparing for ministry. And I had doubts. But I didn't want to stand up in front of an audience or a classroom of students, teaching them something that I felt that I didn't believe in or wasn't working for me personally. And I really wrestled with that problem. For years. I remember going to mentors at Bible College and Seminary and talking to pastors and saying, What's going on here? Because I don't I'm not sure I'm buying this product that I'm supposed to be selling. And I can see that now was it wasn't because it wasn't working. Right. But I could never admit that to myself. I just thought it's something wrong with me. It's always the problem, isn't it? Where doubt gets thrown back onto the doubt or something's wrong with you. It's never God's fault. Obviously, it's not the fault of the Bible, you're just not interpreting it correctly, or whatever your theology isn't right? Or maybe you've got hidden sin your life. There's 1,000,001 reasons why it might not be working. But it's never God's fault. Going back to what you said, I really wanted to get it right. I do not want to feel like I'm a hypocrite standing in front of a crowd, telling them to believe something and that it should change your life. When I myself wasn't doing half the stuff I was telling my congregation to do.
David Ames 27:27
Yeah. And I've had people on who tell the story where they wanted God to change them they wanted, they were asking, you know, change me I live recognize that this isn't the best I can do help me. And then it was the recognition of that not happening, that there was no assistance, there was no helper available to assist them in changing.
Clint Heacock 27:49
Yeah, going back to my experiences I was talking about as a kid kept why kept getting baptized because I was begging and pleading God to help me as you just described, and no help was forthcoming. For example, I was I was in the purity culture. That was another part of the toxicity of the doctrine. And I've realized this now a lot of kids raised in the purity culture, they have to suppress their sexuality. So they turned to pornography as an outlet. So I became addicted to pornography. And of course, I knew that was wrong. I felt horrible about that. At least I knew I wasn't having actual physical sex, which was slightly better. But then I was, you know, turning to porn. Yeah. And that was a sin. So I mean, I begged and pleaded, and I've heard many stories of kids like me who did the same thing, asking God to take it away to help me nothing. And why isn't he interested in helping you to become that perfect Christian or perfect kid who doesn't sin? Why? Why not? Give me some help? Throw me a bone. Yeah, nothing.
David Ames 28:53
I totally get you. I think that on all levels, the repression of normal human sexual desire is destructive, right? It doesn't matter. You know, how you wind up dealing with that, whether that's porn, and I think the church would be so much better if they just said, Yeah, masturbation is normal. You should you should do that. If you want. There'll be a whole lot fewer problems, you know, like, but they can't, there's no way they can. They can't say that.
Clint Heacock 29:20
I mean, I remember going to pastors conferences, we used to go to the Oregon coast that go to these weekend long pastors conferences. And by about the end of the Sunday evening session, it was 40 or 50. Pastors in a room, and they were broken down. And most of them were confessing all kinds of sins. And the biggest one is pornography. And, you know, masturbation, yeah, asters who could never ever admit that to their own wives for one thing, or certainly not to their congregation. Can you imagine that? High profile pastor went up and said, Look, people I've been watching porn for years. I'm addicted to it. I got a real problem and they'd be out in most cases Yeah. So fast.
David Ames 30:02
I was fascinated by it when I was in the middle of, you know, I went to a Bible college purity culture was very much part of that. I was just honest with myself, I was, you know, like, I'm going to master. And I would definitely be, you know, I'd feel guilty and I would confess, and that whole cycle, but something the back of my mind was like, this is normal, the statistics on men in particular, but but women to just well over 50% of the whole population, this is just a normal thing. Some tiny part of me recognize that it was just ludicrous to beat myself up over something that was just a normal human thing.
Clint Heacock 30:40
Absolutely. And you could analyze it, from what we talked about the perspective of doubling your religious self is at war with your authentic self, your authentic self saying, Hey, this is normal, religious selves go, No, it's a sin. It's wrong. You need to confess and repent and get right and stop doing it. Throw away the magazine, stop getting online, stop looking at porn, you know, you've got to get it right and stop and suppress that sexuality until you get married. And you're supposed to be a virgin on your wedding day bla bla bla, that's the culture.
David Ames 31:12
I know that lots of the listeners will be very familiar with that. I know how destructive that is.
Clint Heacock 31:18
It is I just wrote an article on Medium about that, because we did a bunch of talking on it years ago with some people in a Facebook group. And I kind of stumbled across a bunch of these comments that I had archived. And I was reading through him about, you know, I asked the question in this group, what damage has the purity culture done to you this x evangelical group, and I got a shocking array of responses. I just started cutting and pasting them anonymously and putting them in a Word document. And it was like 10 or 12 pages long. And I thought, Oh, my God, I gotta do something with this. So I put this article together talking about specific instances of damage that the purity culture does to us sexually, psychologically, etc, etc. It's quite shocking. When you actually stand back and look at what it does. Yeah. And that's all part of the church's toxicity. No, yeah. Wow.
David Ames 32:07
To again, circle back just a little bit to the personal. So you recognize that there was a disparity between what you were teaching and what you were acting out or what you believe? What did that result in? Did you walk away from that teaching gig? How did that look?
Clint Heacock 32:22
I got made redundant. As they say, in this country, I got laid off from the teaching gig. Through no fault of my own. It was a case of the college that I was teaching for. I'd been there about seven or eight years, they ran into huge debt. And so they laid a bunch of us off, most of us lost our jobs without any warning, we just were gone. Just like that. I got home from my last day of teaching, just before Christmas, ironically, to get a letter on my table, saying your services are no longer. Merry Christmas. Oh, and by the way, they said, Do you know the college is in financial trouble, you wouldn't mind donating your final month's pay. Oh, my goodness, help us get through this shortfall. After we've just laid you off. I could not believe that. They actually said that. Yeah, I'll give you my last month's salary when I don't have a job to go to now. Thank you very much. I see now that did me a favor. But that was quite shocking. I mean, I cannot imagine a company doing something like that to an employee. Yeah, you lay somebody off and then turn around and say, Oh, you wouldn't mind donating your final month's pay to help us out here. But it was a Bible college.
David Ames 33:32
That is incredibly tone deaf, very tone deaf.
Clint Heacock 33:36
And I wrote a I wrote an email to the head of the college saying, I cannot believe you know that you've done this. And you've you're asking me to give you my last month's pay. And I said, I've been there eight years. And that's how I found out I don't even have a job anymore. And his response was equally tone deaf. He said, Well, actually, you shouldn't be upset. You were never actually an employee. You were a contract. lecturer. What's the problem? We just didn't renew your contract? What are you so upset about?
David Ames 34:03
Man? That's insane. So
Clint Heacock 34:06
deafness? Unbelievable. What do you see? You're never an employee here. What are you so pissed off about? What just you know? You're not coming back. And that's it. Period. What's the problem? Wow, I don't know. Eight years of teaching for nothing. That's terrible. Yeah, it really is.
David Ames 34:23
So what made you decide to start to go to the dark side a bit, to start expressing your deconstruction out loud to blog about it and whatever your first steps were? Well, what happened that
Clint Heacock 34:35
it was the actually the podcast that I started, I've changed the name now it's mine ship podcast, but originally, four years ago, it was called the preachers Forum Podcast. Okay. That was my last gasp of trying to reform the church. So I had gone through this cycle of reading progressive Christians, jettisoning a lot of my fundamentalist evangelical conservative dogma. As, and that was the journey I was on, I was like, Okay, I'm gonna help the church get relevant kind of like you said, your, your path of Let's help the church discover grace. I was that's what I was teaching my students, I was having them question things, and exposing them to a lot of progressive ideas and pushing the limits a little bit. But then I see now that was my journey. I'm way out. Because as I was jettisoning the pieces, eventually there was nothing left. But that journey was to really one last push to kind of reform the church. What I realized is, they didn't want to hear it. Nobody wanted to hear they were not listening. You know, I was just an angry ranting ex pastor who was still a Christian though. And then as I went down the line further and further and further, I realized, I've got nothing left. So that's when I realized that the idea of the preachers forum totally doesn't fit. The name doesn't fit. The brand name doesn't work. It's nothing about what I am standing for. So I changed it to the mind shift podcast. And that's where I guess someone said to me, you're basically you've deconstructed in front of an audience, right? Over the three or four years, that's kind of what I've done. I've entered the name, the preachers form reflects my own journey out. That was the last straw. But the last thing for me was actually the 2016. Evangelical Trump support. Yeah, when I saw that, I said to myself, I'm no longer ever going to call myself a Christian. I don't want to have anything to do with it. That was the final straw. I was done. I said, I don't want to have anything to do with that movement. evangelicalism. Yeah, maybe that's an overreaction. But to me, events have borne out the fact that it's a completely bankrupt system in many ways. I mean, there's some great Christians out there, no doubt, I'm not throwing all the baby out with the bathwater. But for a lot of people, that was their last straw.
David Ames 36:57
Like my wife is still very much a believer. And she was just crushed by, by that and continues to be crushed every time we see an evangelical who, then is not just a political thing here, but blindly supports Trump. So I know that that has affected the numbers of people huge numbers, that led them to deconstruction. I want to segue here just briefly and ask you your motto of the podcast as reconstruction after deconstruction, can I get your definitions of both of those words? What are those mean to you?
Clint Heacock 37:30
I would say that the deconstruction part is when people question their deeply held beliefs, you know, on a very worldview level type of thing. And it's very traumatic, it's very scary. There's a lot of emotions associated with it, because it was something that we believe wholeheartedly, like we've been talking about. If we were in the system, especially people that were in any form of leadership in the church or in a religion, it's really hard to question those things. Yeah. What what it's a case I think a lot of people's story is when that cognitive dissonance, that dissonance becomes too much. Yeah, like you said, the cracks, you cannot paper over the cracks anymore. Eventually, the walls are falling down. 50 layers of wallpaper won't, won't hide the structural flaws in the building.
David Ames 38:20
Yeah. So I've got an article that's similar to one that you've written, but that talks about this process. And I begin with unexpected events happen, something makes you think about this. But then as you go along, there stack up and you hit some critical mass point at which just what you've described, you can no longer pretend anymore, that there isn't a problem.
Clint Heacock 38:41
You can't do it. And going back to the cult psychology, that's a lot of people. There's a lot of ways to quell the cognitive dissonance. Christianese is a good one. And that's what we use in the church, you know, sort of pithy statements, platitudes, Bible verses that cover and those are sort of that wallpaper covering the cognitive dissonance. We don't understand why things happen. You see in it right now, with the Coronavirus, the COVID-19. Look at the various Christian responses to it. They are scrambling to try to come up with some answers, because there isn't any. Why is this happening? Because they are holding to the presupposition that God is all powerful. God's in control of everything. What the hell is going on here? I mean, seriously, is it a judgment? Is it a satanic attack? Is it they've got to come up with something? And so you see all sorts of people that are walking around quoting Psalm 91, Faith conquers fear and I don't have to wear a mask, I can disregard it all because God's gonna protect me. That's straight, loaded languages. liftin calls it it's thought terminating cliches, and that's what it is. And that's what I did for a long time. As you say the weight finally though, got too much. And I can see now that the progressive Christians was part of that journey. You guys like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell and Donald Miller, because they helped me to see that I was part of a formulaic religion. And once I saw that, I thought, my God, I have been practicing a religion that's been reduced to a formula, what I need to do is discover the authentic Christianity, and then I wasn't able to do it. Okay. It's sort of like Easy Rider, you know, the two guys that go off on their Harley's to try to rediscover the real America, and they can't find it. It's not there, right, it ain't there. And then the end, they end up getting killed, you know, so it doesn't end well.
David Ames 40:38
This is really where I wanted to go. This is a really interesting thing that you've just said, trying to find the authentic Christianity and then not being able to find it. And I want to preface this by saying that I try to avoid falling into the angry atheist, the New Atheists perspective, there's part of me that gets pulled that direction to just say, you know, just the story you just told, you know, you will have someone standing in front of a tornado strewn Street and their houses destroyed, but they survived. And they'll be like, well, thank God,
Clint Heacock 41:08
the Bible is untouched, sitting on the nightstand.
David Ames 41:11
100 people are dead in this massive destruction. But you know, I made it out. So that's great. The ability to miss all of that. But my point is, I want to be this idea of secular grace to be graceful to recognize where people are at, which includes various levels of progressive Christianity, various levels of deconstruction. And I'm confessing my faults to you that I times I can be critical and to try to overcome that. But what you just said is just really fascinating to me in that we have lots of progressive friends who are who are trying to live that out. I'm trying to find that authentic Christianity. What would you say to them?
Clint Heacock 41:49
That's a good question. Because I had a conversation recently with Dan Koch, who's a progressive Christian. And we went around and around, we had a really good, respectful dialogue. It wasn't an argument. And I come from the same perspective as you I'm not trying to talk anybody out of their thing or into anything, I will have a respectful dialogue, as long as anyone wants to talk with me. Absolutely. And the question that I posed at the end of it all, I mean, we there's no question, but that the church, and I'm generalizing, but you know, including Catholicism, and sure, there's so many abuses, there's no question about it. There's sexual abuse, there's pedophilia, there's spiritual abuse and religious trauma syndrome, and you can have a laundry list, hell induced PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc, etc, etc. And that's caused by the church. So I said to Dan, whose fault is it? Because is it God's fault that all this is so messed up? Or is it the fault of humanity who took something that was pure, and then corrupted it? What we need to do is get back to that pure faith? You know, and I think that was my, my journey, as you said, for a long time. I was hoping to find that sort of X Chapter Two church. Yeah. Oh, community. And that was what I taught my students to aim for. And now I realized that I think I never found it, you know, but for the progressive Christian, I have a hard time supporting some of that I get where they're coming from, I think, because I was on that same pasture. Sure. But I couldn't reconcile it with all the damage that was being done by the church. And I thought, you know, after four or five years of trying to get people to see my point of view, and nobody wanted to listen. I'm done. I'm not I'm not beating my head against the wall here. Yeah.
David Ames 43:37
I guess the reason I bring this up is, there's definitely part of me that still just wants to say, let it go. You're hurting yourself by trying to make this work. And my argument is this, that if, like, if you do the Thomas Jefferson thing, you rip all the miracles out of the Bible. If you take one more step and take all the archaic morality out of the Bible, you're left with a pamphlet that says you ought to be good to people. Right? And that's about it. And that the baggage that comes with traditional Christianity actually holds people back. And again, I'm recognizing that maybe that's being too critical. And people meet people where they're at and what their needs are. But there's part of me that definitely just wants to say, you can be free from this. And we can recognize what we need from one another as human beings. We still need to have community we still need to have a sense of awe. We need to have a sense of beauty of something even bigger than ourselves, if you will, but that doesn't need to be supernatural. But nature and humanity provides all of those needs. And this is ultimately my argument that even in the church, it was still just humanity that was providing those needs, right with musicians like yourself. It's the pastor's doing. You know, they're at the bedside. I'd have somebody who's dying, feeding the hungry, actually sure the action on the ground was the miracle. It's the people that are the magic.
Clint Heacock 45:09
One, as you said, look at the examples from church history, what you just were articulating the difference between you go back 100 years, the difference between classic liberal theology and the fundamentalist background, the end of the 19th century up till about 1940s 50s, into the 60s, even where the Liberals tried to accommodate their Christian faith with modern science. And they were saying kind of the same thing. Let's take biblical criticism as an example. You know, all this stuff that was questioning the authorship of the Bible and the Pentateuch, did Moses write it and on and on and on? And they said, Yeah, we believe what these scholars are finding in the text, we don't think it's every word was written by an inspired Prophet and all the rest of it, whereas the fundamentalists, they doubled down. And so we see those two streams, where the liberals, a lot of them did end up as atheists because they finally said, There's nothing left.
David Ames 46:02
There's nowhere to go. Yeah. Yeah. That ultimately leads me to the next question. I talked to you before we got on Mike about, is there a daylight between the concept of deconstruction, and deconversion. And usually, when I use the term deconversion, I mean, the letting go of faith of any kind of recognizing that it's basically the natural world is what we have. And I guess the point for me was the last two things I held on to the bitter end, where the concept of a soul and the resurrection, and when I realized that I had no reason no evidences no reliable reasons to hold on to those any longer. That was the thing that I was just done. At that point. I wasn't interested in going and exploring other religious traditions, I wasn't looking at other sects of Christianity. I was just done. And I'm curious if you think that most people deconstruct at some point and then fall off a cliff, or is it possible to just keep keep deconstruction going indefinitely? Sure.
Clint Heacock 47:02
Well, looking at my example, you know, when I was talking about reading progressive Christians, I was deconstructing I was questioning a lot of things I was my mind was being blown. Like I said, when I when I discovered that Christianity that I was falling was a formulaic religion, that blew my mind. But I was still very much a Christian. However, I jettisoned a tremendous amount of stuff from my past, that I thought was absolutely indispensable. And then I realized was not only not indispensable, it was actually quite damaging, and harmful to my own mental health and the way I lived my life and treated other people, but I was still very much a Christian. So like you said, that's, you could say, That's deconstruction, you're questioning, questioning, questioning. A lot of people do that, and then never leave Christianity, or whatever religion they're a part of. They question things. They jettison things. They don't believe certain things anymore. They might believe different things now, but they still consider themselves a Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, whatever. But like you say that if you're going to define deconversion, as the point where you say, I am no longer a Christian or whatever, I walk away, I'd repudiate the whole thing. I'm not trying to salvage anything. I'm not trying to save anything. Yeah, I am done. That's that's best must be the difference between deconstructing and de converting. And maybe one doesn't always inevitably lead to the other, but it certainly can. For a lot of people that has
David Ames 48:30
sure I definitely recognize very similar to you. You can say liberalizing, but I'm also fascinated by the Mere Christianity, Christians who say, wow, you know, these little minor doctrinal differences, they don't really matter. You know, it's really about, it's about the cross about the resurrection. But I feel like I did that I went to that edge where I was just hanging on to the resurrection has to be real the way it stated or I agree with Paul, that this is all worthless. We're the most to be pitied. Right. And, and it was when I fell off that cliff where I realized, yeah, that it wasn't true. I thought it was and I was mistaken.
Clint Heacock 49:09
Well, and one thing we haven't really touched on, it kind of mentioned it with the liberals. But the question of what Bible are you talking about? Because that's a whole huge problem. Yeah, that I'm sure we could get into somewhere else. But, you know, that's one thing that I was struggling with increasingly, because the more I studied the Bible as a scholar, and I finally I did my PhD on the book of Ezekiel. And one of the things I discovered about Ezekiel was, of course, there was the big debates as to the scholarship of Ezekiel that you need to write the book, blah, blah, blah. And I realized no, it was it was compiled from a bunch of different sources, and that that's the consensus of most scholarship, but certainly in the Old Testament, and there's a lot of questions about the New Testament. And that led me to think, Okay, this fundamentalist conservative view of the Bible, and therefore the interpretations that are drawn from that view of the Bible. Will cannot possibly be consistent, because the text doesn't support that it really doesn't. Scholarship has shown definitively, that is not the case. And there's a lot of questions around the Gospels and the historicity of Jesus. You know, so if you can argue about who Jesus was and what Jesus taught, and we need to recover the true Jesus, which Jesus, right, which gospel? Yes, you know, there's significant discrepancies. One of the things I used to have my students do when I was teaching New Testament, but I would make them study three different passages from Matthew, Mark, and Luke, that were parallel passages giving the same account of an event. And I would have them list all the similarities and all the differences between the three. And there was a huge list of discrepancies. And that blew their minds, because they were like, know that they all have to agree they cannot possibly disagree. And I'd say, Well, what do you do with that? Right? Which account is right? Which account is historical? And it's all historically true, but it cannot be because they contradict each other in key details. So who's right which one's correct? You know, there's cognitive dissonance for you. Yeah. So, after that class session, a lady came up to me and said, Are you a Christian? And I said, What do you Why would you say that? The Bible college, just because you're having this question the Bible, and that Christians don't do that. Yeah. So that was her go to answer.
David Ames 51:25
You know, I often say that my Bible college teachers did their job too well. Hmm. In that, you know, my college experience, at least in the classroom was really good. It was critical thinking it was a bit of textual criticism, it was they didn't take it too far, but a little bit, but they know they would recognize that, yep, the Gospels are anonymous, they are hagiographies, you know, they were acknowledged that much, right. And then the new hand wave about well, it's still authoritative and similar enough. But my point is that they, you know, they conveyed the idea of good exegesis of good study of good hermeneutics interpretation of good, recognizing, you know, what it meant to the off the original author and the original hearers. And when you start to go down that road, and you recognize, as you've said, many books of the Bible are compilations that have multiple authors that have multiple time periods represented, that have multiple theological perspectives that are trying to be a service, you know that when you get to that point where you're just kind of honest with the text itself, that that's what it is, it's very, very hard to then maintain that this is some kind of supernatural developed product as it were
Clint Heacock 52:39
inspired product. That's the inerrant mistake, free, error free. Look at for example, if you just take a straight reading of the text, you end up with a God in the Old Testament, who commands genocide. Yeah. And he commands laws in the Book of Leviticus and Exodus and other places that are absolutely horrific. We would repudiate them today as human rights violations on all kinds of levels. And so you go wait a minute, if that's the same god of the New Testament, that you're worshipping in a church every Sunday? What about that? Yeah, how can you worship a God who commanded genocide on multiple occasions? And that's the same guy you're singing about and worshiping on a Sunday? What? This doesn't make any sense. And that's just a straight reading of the text. Now, of course, there's a million answers. I studied it myself, the Odyssey, the problem of evil, you know, there's a million reasons why Gods let off the hook. And it's not his fault and blah, blah, blah. But that's bullshit. Yeah, he commanded His people to kill men, women, children, animals, slaughter him without mercy. Yeah, we would condemn that as a war crime today, we sent the Nazis to the gallows for that, for killing millions of Jews in World War Two. And that's just the same scale, maybe not as industrialized the course. But same principle.
David Ames 53:59
Yeah, for sure. You know, about two years before my deconversion I read through the Bible. And my wife, you know, she'd say, you're angry, why are you angry? At the time, I had no idea why. Now, with hindsight, I recognize I was reading it straight through it all, including the boring parts, including Ezekiel, including the prophets including, and it's horrifying, what it actually says, you know, so if you I always recommend, you know, if you're a believer, read the Bible. Read it. That will make an atheist study. Yeah. The only thing I request is that you see it for what it actually says rather than that's what most people do is they interpret it in light of it for my case, I previously have interpreted all in light of grace, right? Well, God was judgmental because he was bringing the Hebrew people together, you know, needed to keep purity and what have you, but, but when I started to let go of that I took the rose colored glasses off and just I read the text, what does it say? That was devastating. It was absolutely devastating.
Clint Heacock 55:05
It is. And that was part of my, the shocking journey going through Ezekiel, you know, reading the book from a theological point of view, then I started reading it as a narrative text. That's what blew my mind. It's actually a story about this prophet who's in us in Babylon with these exiles. And he's trying to get through to them and all this. And at one point, God comes to Ezekiel and says, according to text, tomorrow, your wife's going to die, I'm going to kill your wife, and you will not be allowed to mourn for her as a some sort of object lesson to your fellow exiles here in Babylon. And God killed Ezekiel, his wife, and he wasn't allowed to shed a single tear. And that's horrifying. Yeah, if that's true, you know, narrative of historical, whatever. But I mean, that's what the text says, man. What the hell as equal, he was the good guy. That's exactly what he was doing. was obeying. He was doing everything got all the ridiculous things God was telling them to do. And God kills his wife. What kind of a monster is that? The same guy who destroys Job's life or allow Satan to over a cosmic bet with the devil. That job never finds out about? I mean, if that's the God of the Bible, I don't want to have anything to do with that. God, that's what did it for me? Yeah, no way.
David Ames 56:29
I can definitely relate. I feel like we've done a pretty good job of bashing the Bible and says, I want to turn the corner just a little bit and talk about first of all, like, do you consider yourself an atheist? You pick a term that you identify with? Is there agnostic?
Clint Heacock 56:44
I'd say I'm more of an agnostic, I think, definitely D converted. Okay, I'm not a Christian. There's no question about that. I don't call myself a Christian. But I'm not sure I have a lot of problems with that. God, like I've been saying, it seems pretty clear. I get passionate when I was talking about Yeah, because I have a lot of questions. If that God exists, the one of the Bible, there's some serious problems, right? I want some answers to those questions, you know, and I'm not getting them. I ain't getting them, you know? And so, I'm not sure if there is a God out there. If the if he does exist, wow, we've got some serious issues to deal with. So I could see the appeal of saying, Yeah, that's probably better off saying it's all made up. And if there's no God, right, I'm an atheist and sack the whole thing off.
David Ames 57:36
So then I want to use you know, the most generic term that I you know, I often use the word secular to be very generic. I don't necessarily mean atheistic, right, but just not religious. In your life and your quote, unquote, secular life now, how do you find community? What do you find meaningful? How do you experience all?
Clint Heacock 57:58
I find community Yeah, wherever you can really. It's around shared interests. Ironically, a lot of the things that we did in the church, yeah, music, motorcycles, American football in this country, it was what we call it. I played American football for eight seasons. I coach now, for about the last five years, I've been a coach. So my fellow coaches, the players, the team, that is my I used to say, That's my church. You know, we were we live in North Wales here. We're part of a community of it's a biker club. So we play music, and we have hundreds of people come we do rallies here where I live with bikers from all over the country. I mean, that's community, but it's around shared interests and passions, and, you know, things like that. So that's where I find it. Next, and I, my students, where I teach at the college here in England, I teach carpentry and multi skills to military veterans. And I always end up with some amazing friendships that come out of that, out of the classes that I teach. I keep in touch with people, you know, so it's things that I'm passionate about, I guess.
David Ames 59:05
Yeah, that's awesome. Can you give me the top three ish books that have been the most meaningful to you through this process or after this process?
Clint Heacock 59:14
The top one would have to be Robert Lipton's thought reform in the psychology of totalism, which opened my eyes to the whole cult psychology, and then I started relating that to evangelicalism. The second one I think would be take back your life by Janya law college and Madeline Tobias. Okay, which is a very good book about exactly what it says on the tin, you know, yeah, take that's the reconstruction piece, which we never actually talked about, but it's where you start to take back everything that was lost, stolen, smash destroyed from your old self, right? How did how do you do that? The next book, I would have to say now I'm reading with holy terror, Conway and Siegelman. which opened me up to studying the religious right, the rise of the religious right in America, which then led me into studying dominion theology, and which is part of my backstory coming out of Christian education, which is Christian reconstructionism. So those are three of the top books I would recommend.
David Ames 1:00:19
Excellent. I do recognize we missed a lot of the reconstruction stuff. Do you want to talk about that briefly? Like, what what for you was reconstruction? What do you what would you recommend for people that they're looking for when they are in the process of reconstruction?
Clint Heacock 1:00:34
The biggest piece of advice, and I've heard this, I asked the same question every time to someone who's Yeah. X religious person, they always say the same thing. They say education is the number one thing, educate yourself. And that's what I've been doing. That's why those books I recommended, were all books that changed my life from a reconstruction point of view, because they helped me to identify areas in my life where I had been controlled and manipulated and was part of that cult psychology. And I was a pawn in a bigger game in a way. And I wasn't seeing it at the time. But now I can look back and actually identify the various tactics that were used on me and many other people in the system. And I know it's true, because I've heard I've heard it from many, many, many, many, many people that say, that's what happened to me. You're describing my experience, right. And that helps me to start to disempower what they did to us and say, Okay, if I can name if I can point my finger to the actual tactic, then I can start to figure out how it affected me psychologically, then I can start to rebuild. And that's the journey I'm really on.
David Ames 1:01:47
Man, one of the things you just said, there really resonates with me as well. One of the purposes of me doing the podcast is for me, that recognition, when Clint you're telling your story, and I'm just like, Ah, I totally, I totally loved the resume. And like, and, you know, I have guests on that just happens consistently. And then I hear from people who are listeners, and they say, Oh, that person was telling my story. And they all are unique, every story is unique. But there's these brines that just everyone recognizes this. I went through that phase, and that was part of my story.
Clint Heacock 1:02:22
That's, and that's why the community is a huge piece. So the education is one, finding a supportive community, wherever that is, what we've been saying is that it's critically important, we need community as humans. And it's important if you're coming out of your faith, your religion or a cult, to find a group of supportive people that are, they don't have to be from the same story that you had. But we find that typically, like ex Jehovah's Witnesses, ex Mormons, ex evangelicals, they tend to band together because yeah, they all they all get it. Yeah, you know, they came out of the same destructive cult or whatever. And so yeah, they resonate. And there, they can offer the support that only a person coming out of that particular context can give. And so that's what's really important is to find that community.
David Ames 1:03:13
Absolutely. I wanted to give you just a minute to plug the work that you're doing, I understand, you've been doing a lot of blog posts on medium, one of which we discussed on seekers and skeptics a bit about the number of different ways that people go through deconstruction, tell us about the work that you're doing these days.
Clint Heacock 1:03:32
That's true. I've been doing a lot of work, as I was saying, on cult psychology, as well as Christian reconstructionism, dominion theology, the religious rights, so I tend to seek out people on the show that are experts in the field or authors. I've just got an episode coming out with Katherine Stewart, who wrote the book, The Power worshipers just came out in March. And she talks about the rise of Christian nationalism in America and the world really, and I'm chasing down other people to have on the show that are experts in Christian reconstructionism dominion theology, because I find a lot of people don't know much about that. Right? And they're very under informed as to what's actually going on. Again, not just in America, that's the most clear example but we're seeing it in Brazil and other places, where there's alliances with evangelicalism from a political point of view, and their agenda is really quite chilling. They want to establish a theocracy. And it's gonna become like a Handmaid's Tale type thing. And that's really not it's not an overstatement. Actually, quite scary.
David Ames 1:04:39
You know, and I live in the state so I see Betsy DeVos and you know, that like everything is moving that direction, then what's fascinating to me, it's it's absolutely special pleading. Christianity gets all these perks and but if you were to say, well, mosques should also get money rebuilding or something like no way that's not going to happen. So we have a couple completely abandoned separation of church and state. Exactly.
Clint Heacock 1:05:02
We have Bible studies led by Ralph drove injured in the White House in Congress weekly. The Congress, they're fine with that Mike Pence drops in absolutely fine. Trump has an evangelical advisory board. And someone said, Well, why doesn't he have a Muslim advisory board? Right? Why does he have a Scientology advisory board? Yeah, they should be in accordance with the terms of religious freedom and religious tolerance in America. Every religion should be equally represented. But why is it only these particular evangelical Dominionists that get to get these Bible studies and all these influences in the Trump administration? So that is affecting legislation right now? Today? They have a vision and they are working to make it happen.
David Ames 1:05:48
Yeah. And your mind shift podcast? I know. There's a few podcasts out there. They have that name. How do they find your podcast? If they're looking for it?
Clint Heacock 1:05:58
That's true. Because it's funny. I my wife actually suggest that name. And I kind of didn't realize at the time, there's about three or four. I changed the name, I did all the work. And then I went on there to iTunes, about Oh, my God, there's like four miles. Yeah. What have I done? Then for a minute there? I thought I might be in trouble. That's like copyright issue. Nobody said anything. So I'm kind of playing it safe. But yeah, if you look for my name, basically, I'm the only one that has Dr. Clint, hey, click on it. You'll find me there. That's me. The other ones tend to be like education podcasts, and there's one from a church. So I thought that was kind of interesting. Maybe they'll end up listening to a sermon, and think that it's me. Don't get the wrong mindset podcast. That's your head. You think what's this guy's he's preaching a sermon all of a sudden?
David Ames 1:06:54
Well, I just wanted to thank you for being on the podcast. And we talked briefly about still having kind of a pastor's heart and really, still acting that out. I hear that in you, I hear that in your work. It's very clear that you care about people. That's what this podcast is all about is how do we care about people more? I think the work that you're doing helping people to recognize the cultic nature of their previous faith is really, really important. Thank you so much for being on the show and sharing all that wisdom with us.
Clint Heacock 1:07:25
Yeah, thank you so much, David, for being a great host. I want to have you as a guest on mine ship podcast. So we need to talk about how we can make that happen to
David Ames 1:07:34
that sounds great.
Final thoughts on the episode, there were so much resonance between Clinton I think we have very similar experiences and very similar perspectives on the post religious life and how we connect with one another how we maintain the human needs in community was just a great conversation to have with him. I thought the conversation about the potential difference between deconstruction and deconversion was really interesting. I know I sometimes come across as the stronger atheist. And it's important for me to remember that deconstruction is definitely a part of that process. I'm very much interested in meeting people where they are at, and not necessarily having them conform to what I think they should be thinking. So wherever you are in your deconstruction or reconstruction, I hope you'll listen to the podcast and enjoy it. I'm also fascinated by the work that Clint is doing and specifically the people that he has interviewed in the expertise of cults, the overlap of evangelicalism and cultic, like practices is fascinating. And as Clint himself said, it's not to say that all of evangelicalism is a cult, but there are practices which can be more or less cultic, and manipulative. recognizing those manipulations is important. I highly recommend that you check out the mind shift podcast and in particular, some of those episodes that focus on the ways in which cults manipulate people and see if you recognize some of those things from your faith tradition. Clint really touched on something when you remove yourself from the context, he said psychologically and physically. That's when you're able to get some space to start critically thinking, and that critical thinking may lead to deconstruction. And finally, I think his best advice was get yourself educated. Knowledge is really the key when we are in the bubble. And depending on how high demand the religious tradition you were a part of, there may be many resources or sources of information that were not allowed that were verboten, and now there are no restrictions. I highly recommend that you read everything read the Bible read apology. As I read atheists read everyone and come to your own conclusions, the entire point is that now, you are free to seek information and interpret it in light of reality, rather than in light of a body of dogmatic tradition. I want to thank Clint for being on the podcast and for sharing his heart for people. Again, I resonated so much with him being kind of a former ex pastor or ex teacher, at least of wanting so badly to convey the right things. And then ultimately, that being a part of what led to our own deconstructions in my case, full blown deconversion. Thank you, Clint, for the work that you do, and I hope that everyone will go out and listen to the mind shift podcast, I will have links in the show notes for that. I hope you will stay tuned. I have a number of exciting episodes coming up. I've already done the interviews. I'm really excited about them. One is Amy Logan of the ex Mormon ology podcast. Another is Richard Swan, who is the director of the London City voices. If you haven't heard of them, you got to check this out on YouTube. It is amazing the community that he has built, they sing pop songs and choir. And then they go out to the pub afterwards and hang out with each other. It's amazing the community that he's building there, stay tuned for those episodes coming up shortly. And as Clint hinted at the end of the episode, I will be joining him on his podcast we've already done that interview, and that will be released in the next few weeks. Until then, as always, my name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist join me in being graceful human beings. Time for some footnotes. The song has a track called waves by mkhaya beats, please check out her music links will be in the show notes. If you'd like to help support the podcast, here are the ways you can go about that. First help promote it. Podcast audience grows it by word of mouth. If you found it useful or just entertaining, please pass it on to your friends and family. post about it on social media so that others can find it. Please rate and review the podcast wherever you get your podcasts. This will help raise the visibility of our show. Join me on the podcast. Tell your story. Have you gone through a faith transition? You want to tell that to the world? Let me know and let's have you on? Do you know someone who needs to tell their story? Let them know. Do you have criticisms about atheism or humanism, but you're willing to have an honesty contest with me? 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This has been the graceful atheist podcast
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
My guest today is Fred. Fred is a relatively new deconvert who is not entirely out as a non-believer. He has told his son, but no other family members including his wife. Fred grew up Catholic then his family discovered charismatic Catholicism. He has moved through various charismatic protestant churches during his adult life. He still participates in church with his family.
Fred grew up in the ’80s and lived through the Satanic panic, D&D panic and the Evangelical fear of Rock and Roll.
While studying anti-cult apologetics against Mormonism and Scientology, Fred experienced the outsider test for faith. He began to question his faith which did not stand up to scrutiny.
“Anyone who wants you to think that you can stand on the strength of your faith and get what you want is placing a burden on you because so many times what you really wish for will not come true and you will blame yourself.”