043 Ric Caliolio: Baptized Roman Catholic. Loves Science. Trades Fatalism for Self-Determination as an Agnostic-Atheist

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"It's not religion that's bad, it's religious thinking "

-Ric Caliolio

Ric was born and raised in the Philippines. He was baptized as an infant into the Roman Catholic church. Ric teaches me about Anticipated Mass and how malls in the Philippines host Catholic Mass! 

Ric loved biology and evolution from a young age. We discuss the different ways catholics and evangelicals view science. A big life lesson that Ric gained in deconversion was leaving the fatalistic thinking of a christian and learning self-determination. This is a HUGE part of so many of our deconversions, mine included! It's an amazing moment when you realize that you're in control and don't need to have "Jesus take the wheel" (as Ric jokingly noted).

https://www.riccalioliojr.com

http://filipinofreethinkers.org

http://iheu.org

VICE Article: 
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/3k7jx8/too-many-atheists-are-veering-dangerously-toward-the-alt-right

 

042 L.A. & T: Pastor for 26 Yrs. Deconverts & Church Leaders Follow! His Radio Contract Gets Torn Up. He's a Top 300 Minister. Change Begins in India.

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"Do the best you can do. Be nice and use breath mints"

- L.A.

This is such a remarkable story...

He's only been out from behind the pulpit for 6 months! He served as a minister for 26 years. This story has so many twists and turns, ups and downs.  

I can't begin to tell you all the fascinating moments LA shares with me today. He's joined by his wife T. They decided to use their nicknames for today's interview.

From a radio contract that seemed promising, to a tearful proclamation that he's been called to be a pastor.

Later in life LA and T experience a terrible loss, but their faith is strong. They encounter the fraudulent leaders of Evangelical America, but their faith persists. LA is even named a top 300 minister in America.

A chance trip to India changes everything! 

You can reach LA & T: Lemrich@mac.com 

Check out LA's blog! www.freshla.me

 

041 Heather Bailey: Forsaking Faith Podcast Co-Host. From Dancing Charismatic to Agnostic.

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"Don't be afraid to reach out to people. It really helped me and continues to help me, that I have friends who have deconverted" 

 

-Heather Bailey

Heather is co-host of the upcoming podcast, Forsaking Faith.

She does a wonderful job describing what life was like growing up in a non-denominational church. From being on the church dance team to being taught that her relationship with Christ should be intimate, like a romantic relationship. These things make a big impression on her growing up and make deconversion that much harder down the road.

A succession of events in her life build up. Her final straw is a seemingly average conversation with a woman at her church over lunch. That conversation has an immense impact on Heather. I loved hearing this story because to me, it makes the contrast between Heather's two potential futures so clear. You can sense the power that moment had for Heather, as she shares this story.

She  also shares her feelings on difficult topics, such as death, the concept of a just world and what happened (or didn't) when she stopped praying. 

Feel free to connect with Heather or her co-host Christine:

Twitter:

@ForsakingFaith

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/forsakingfaith/

Email:

forsakingfaith@gmail.com

040 Black Nonbelievers Inc. Founder & President Mandisa Thomas

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"There are others who have been where you are and what you're feeling is ok"

-Mandisa Thomas

Mandisa Thomas, a native of New York, is founder and President of Black Nonbelievers, Inc., which is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Although never formally raised Christian, she was definitely impacted by the Christianity around her. Her parents were both Black Nationalists, which had a significant impact on her growing up. Mandisa has a unique and fascinating upbringing.

We also get to hear what motivated Mandisa to start Blacknonbelievers and how it became the organization it is today. She shares some thought-provoking statistics about the increasing religiousness amongst black Americans. Finally, she has some wonderful advice for the atheist community at the end of our discussion.

038 Vilmarie Perez: Raised Evangelical. Becoming Less for God Leads to a Serious Problem. Came Out to Her Mother & Was Forced to Move

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"I just remember kind of losing the fear little by little. As I lost the fear I realized I didn't have to be a Christian if I didn't want to, if it wasn't working for me"

Vilmarie Perez

My guest today is Vilmarie Perez.

Her father was a preacher, her step-father a pastor and her aunt had her own church. Raised in a strong evangelical family, she begins to experience some real difficulties in adolescence. 

Her Christian upbringing leads to a desire to become "less" for God and family. She develops an eating disorder. In the next year or two she comes out to her mother and also becomes an atheist. Her mother forces her to move from the States back to Puerto Rico with her father. This is traumatic for Vilmarie, as she leaves behind her friends and the life she knows. 

I was inspired by her story and you will be too!

Jesus Camp (movie) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0486358/

Tumblr: ExChristian https://www.tumblr.com/search/exchristian

Secular Student Alliance https://secularstudents.org

037 Benibo Ajumogobia: From Lagos, Nigeria. Mom was a Deaconess, Dad an Elder. At 16 He Cuts Out Friends, Vows Celibacy. 9/11, Howard U and CSPAN Impact Faith. Now He's Agnostic-Atheist

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"For this time that I am here on earth, with the only life that I'm sure that I get; I'm going to help as much as I can. I'm going to try to be a good neighbor as best as I can"

Benibo Ajumogobia

My guest today is Benny (Benibo) Ajumogobia.

He was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. His mom was a deaconess, and dad an Elder. The charismatic church he was raised in had some BIG differences compared to American charismatic churches. The emphasis on witchcraft is one example.

At 16 Benny responds to an alter call at a revival meeting in the U.K. His faith takes a serious turn. He decides to cut off all friendships for the sake of his faith. He also takes a vow of celibacy.

The events of 9/11 and attending Howard University have an influence on him, but he remained a committed conservative Christian. Years later, a show on CSPAN would have an enormous impact on his faith. He's now an agnostic-atheist.

kevbest@gmail.com

earlychristianwritings.com

Ex-Christians on Reddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/exchristian/

036 Treigg Turner: Baptist Preacher's Kid. Took the Bible Seriously. Seeds of Doubt Grow into Atheism. Joins Black Non-Believers of Cincinnati

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"Never forget why you questioned. Never forget what took you over the edge. Hold onto that, because that's kinda pure, those things that make you realize 'I don't believe this stuff anymore'. Hold onto that and never forget it"

Treigg Turner

Treigg shares an array of experiences and touches on some fascinating topics. He grew up a Baptist preacher's kid and took the Bible VERY seriously. He later helped with the youth ministry in his mom's church and even had his own church TV show! 

Seeds of doubt are planted throughout his life. One begins when he notices his friends parents listening to secular music. This was a major moment for Treigg. His parents only played gospel music. Another seed of doubt is when Treigg begins discussing God's allowance of slavery with an agnostic friend.

Treigg has to share his new views with his parents as he realizes how much of his world was wrapped up in religion. His search for community leads to Skeptics of Color in Cincinnati, which evolved into Black Non-Believers of Cincinnati.

https://www.facebook.com/treigg

https://blacknonbelievers.wordpress.com

https://www.anthonypinn.com

http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tyson/

The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins:
https://www.amazon.com/The-God-Delusion/dp/B000LP5E8M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1520402735&sr=8-1&keywords=richard+dawkins+books

 

035 Ian Redfearn - Part 2: Resigns Church Membership. Tells His Wife He Can't Do Church Anymore. Talks About Atheist Spirituality & Some Awesome Quotes!

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"Laugh at everything. Always be kind. Always be courageous and if you fail, make amends"

Ian Redfearn (via Dr. Who)

The second half of my conversation with Ian is wonderful!

We start with him resigning membership at his church, then discuss atheist spirituality. He shares observations about how church doesn't seem to make people any better.

Ian tells me how he prepared to tell his wife he couldn't go to church anymore. Her reaction was amazing! Finally, Ian ends on such an inspirational note. He shares a quote from the movie, The Life of Pi and also a quote from Dr. Who. As you probably know, I love quotes! These two in particular were very moving to me.

Thanks for listening!

ianredfearn@hotmail.com

035 Ian Redfearn - Part 1: Billy Graham, Christian Dental Fellowship & Toronto Blessing are Key. Ian's Wife & Son Get Difficult Health News. God Calls Him to Lead. Later Questions Cause Big Changes

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"I was beginning to ask the questions and there were things I was observing and thinking, 'I'm not sure how we're going to hold this together here really'"

Ian Redfearn 

It was so much fun to meet and speak with Ian!

I loved hearing of his experience as a charismatic Christian in England. Definitely there are similarities to those of us in the U.S., but important differences too.

Ian has so many factors that played a role in shaping his faith. From seeing Billy Graham speak in person, to seeking out a Dental practice that was part of the Christian Dental Fellowship and his experience with the Toronto Blessing. As a young family, Ian and his wife received difficult news about her health and that of their first-born son.  

God calls Ian to lead. Ian gets some practice preaching. Seeing the influence of Answers in Genesis at his church is a significant turning point. Subsequent observations and questions prove to be the start of a big life change!

033 Bill Finley - Part 2: Helps on Skid Row, Meets a Retired Rabbi Not Going to Hell, His Daughter Questions the Trinity, Told by His Church He Doesn't Have Enough Faith!

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"If their theology was right and what they believed was true, it would've made people a lot better"

Bill Finley

Be Excellent to Each Other!

In part 2, Bill discusses his time helping people out on Skid Row in Los Angeles. He encounters people who make a huge impact on his life, including a rabbi he decided was most certainly not going to hell.

Bill's family moves from southern California to Alaska! His daughter begins asking who is going to heaven and who is going to hell. She questions the Trinity.

Bill transitions to CFO of his congregation. When the church wants to spend money they don't have, Bill advises against it. Their response to Bill triggers a big change in his life.

I absolutely loved this quote from Bill:

"If their theology was right and what they believed was true, it would've made people a lot better".

Everyone's Agnostic podcast:
https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/everyones-agnostic-2/everyones-agnostic

Life After God podcast:
https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/life-after-god/e/52933021

Books:

Good Without God by Greg Epstein-
https://www.amazon.com/Good-Without-God-Billion-Nonreligious/dp/006167012X

Why I Left, Why I Stayed by Bart Campolo and Tony Campolo:
https://www.amazon.com/Why-Left-Stayed-Conversations-Christianity/dp/0062415387/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517976276&sr=1-1&keywords=why+i+left+why+i+stayed

033 Bill Finley - Part 1: Mediates for Divorced Parents. Boy Scouts is Stabilizing. B.A. in the Bible. Officer/Minister in Salvation Army Twelve Yrs. Now Humanist.

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"I realized that you didn't have to be dogmatic to be a good person"

Bill Finley

Bill starts our conversation discussing the difficulties he experienced when his parents divorced. As a child, Bill had no warning the day his mom decided to pack up their stuff and move out. 

Boy Scouts became a stabilizing force in Bill's junior high and high school years, as he became the de facto mediator between his parents.

He moved to Colorado for college and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies.

Bill and his wife served as Officers/Ministers in the Salvation Army for over twelve years. They now attend a Unitarian church and Bill considers himself a Humanist.

032 Krista Cox: Feminist Humanist Alliance Advisory Board Member, Poet, Passionate About Emotional Health & Advocacy for Victims and Marginalized Communities

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"Give yourself permission to not figure it out. It's really scary to go from feeling like you understand everything to feeling like you understand nothing "

Krista Cox

Krista Cox is a poet, Program Director of Lit Literary Collective, Associate Poetry Editor at Stirring: A Literary Collection and Pittsburgh Poetry Review.  She's also on the Advisory Board for the Feminist Humanist Alliance.

She has an inspiring story to tell. 

Following a traumatic experience in a relationship she spent years not feeling like herself. She explained it like a switch being flipped. When it begins to impact her son, the switch flips back. Her resilience and determination when she describes that moment were really inspiring to me. Her instincts kicked in. 

Late in the interview she describes how she is "drawn to joy". I loved the way she explained that and found it to be incredibly hopeful!

Learn more about Krista and her work at:
https://kristacox.me

feministhumanists.org

031 Ryan Bell: National Organizer Manager at Secular Student Alliance. Host of the Life After God podcast.

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" I have a faith in the process. If you are honest and curious, you will find your way to the truth"

Ryan Bell

In this week's episode, Ryan Bell shares his compelling story of deconversion. Ryan also talks about what he's been up to since joining the Secular Student Alliance as National Organizer Manager.

I've been looking forward to meeting Ryan for a while, so it was wonderful to finally speak with him. Although I'm familiar with Ryan's story, I learned some fascinating new details during our conversation.

He explains what convinced him to stop pursuing Pre-Med in college and become a pastor. He also shares what motivated him to live in Nicaragua for 6 weeks. Finally, it was fun to hear the story of how his "Year Without God" blog went viral, resulting in breakfast with Penn Jillette. 

Ryan spent nearly 20 years in congregational pastoral ministry. His very public deconversion in 2014 is documented in his blog, “Year Without God”. Since that time, Ryan has been a writer and speaker on the subjects of religion, humanism and justice. In 2015, he founded the Life After God community and is the host of the Life After God podcast. His writing can be found at The Humanist, CNN, and The Guardian.


https://secularstudents.org

ryan.bell@secularstudents.org


http://www.lifeaftergod.org

https://www.facebook.com/ourlifeaftergod/

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/life-after-god

@ryanjbell

@ourlifeaftergod

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/yearwithoutgod

030 Ariel Pontes - Part 2: Religion Hijacks Curiosity & Stops Inquiry. Searching for Meaning While Becoming Atheist. Making the World a Better Place. Embracing Humanism.

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"Religion hijacks curiosity, gives you all the answers and stops inquiry"

Ariel Pontes

In Part 2, Ariel discusses his transition out of Christianity and into atheism. He searches for meaning in life and finds it in Humanism. He talks about what he likes best about being a Humanist, what stayed the same about him after his deconversion and making a difference in the world.

http://iheu.org

https://www.facebook.com/IHEYO/?timeline_context_item_type=intro_card_work&timeline_context_item_source=577990171&pnref=lhc

He's also a web developer and blogs at http://ghostlessmachine.com/en/

https://medium.com/humanist-voices

https://humanistfederation.eu

http://humanismromania.org

http://www.asur.ro

030 Ariel Pontes - Part 1: Raised in Brazil w/Catholicism & Spiritism. Sought an Out-of-Body Experience, Began Asking Questions. Now a Humanist, He Chairs the Americas Working Group at IHEYO

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"If people ask me the meaning of life, what keeps me going: I want to contribute to making the world a better place. I want to minimize suffering and maximize well-being on earth"

Ariel Pontes

Ariel was raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-well known for being a very Catholic country. However, Ariel describes how spiritism, reincarnation and out-of-body experiences are a normal part of Christianity in Brazil.

In his early teen years he sought out how he could have an out-of-body experience. He began asking questions to learn more...and that's when things take a turn. 

He is now Chair of the Americas Working Group at IHEYO (International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organization): 

http://iheu.org

https://www.facebook.com/IHEYO/?timeline_context_item_type=intro_card_work&timeline_context_item_source=577990171&pnref=lhc

He's also a web developer and blogs at http://ghostlessmachine.com/en/

He currently lives and works in Bucharest, Romania.

029 Vennie Kocsis - Part 2: Banished from Alaska Cult/Adjusting to Normal Life/Authentic Self/Raising Freethinking Kids

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"I won't attack your religion, but the moment that your religion puts a child at risk, I'm going to attack the crime of child-maltreatment. That's the problem, religion convolutes the crime"

Vennie Kocsis

This is the second-half of my conversation with Vennie Kocsis, a cult survivor.

Vennie left off in part 1 when her family had just been banished from the cult in Alaska. It was fascinating to hear how very practical, everyday things were new to her, like wearing jeans. 

As she adjusted to normal life, she began to exude independence. As she grows into young-adulthood she discovers a variety of beliefs and tries out several of them. We also discuss raising freethinking kids, which is always interesting for Ex-Christians. 

Vennie devouts a lot of her time to raising awareness about modern-day cults. If you'd like to support Vennie or learn more about her work, check out her website:

 http://venniekocsis.com

029 Vennie Kocsis - Part 1: Cult and Abuse Survivor. Her Family Moved to a Compound When She Was a Little Girl. She Witnessed Rituals and Animal Sacrifice. In Her Teen Years Her Family is Banished.

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"The word cult derives from the Latin. It just means to worship. It could be said, anybody who is a part of group-think, who worships an entity is part of a cult. "

Vennie Kocsis

Vennie lives in the Pacific Northwest, in the United States. She is an author, artist and podcaster.

Through her podcast "Survivor Voices" and her other work, Vennie stands beside fellow cult and abuse survivors, encouraging them that they're not alone.

Being raised in a cult, Vennie endured some of the most difficult experiences a child could go through. She survived mental, physical and sexual abuse in the cult. Although she doesn't go into a lot of detail, she does discuss the abuse. 

*Please be aware that in this episode we discuss mental, physical & sexual abuse. If these topics are a trigger for you, or if this is a particularly difficult subject, please take note before deciding to listen. Also note that she briefly discusses animal sacrifice that occurred within the cult.

She's quite courageous to speak so candidly about these difficult issues. I admire all the work she does in bringing awareness about cults and supporting those who have survived cults and abuse.

You can find her art, writings and podcast at venniekocsis.com: http://venniekocsis.com/home/4592874752

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028 Forest Lipford - Part 2: Forced to Leave Ireland. Comes Out Atheist to His Parents on Skype. He's Given an Ultimatum. Life Opens Up!

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"If our morality comes from God, if our moral compass comes from a benevolent God, then why when I read the Bible do I have so many problems with the way he behaves" 

Forest Lipford

In talking with Forest, it struck me how much he endured.

He gets kicked out of the mission trip group he was with and sent home from Ireland. He was battling mental health issues and subsequently would lose his faith. His ability to continue in college depended on his parents, who were paying for it. Forest makes the brave decision to tell his parents that he's no longer Christian.  His dad gives him an ultimatum.

Forest's life opens up. He's enriched and becomes his true self.


Facebook:

Forest-Silvus Stanley Lipford

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