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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028 Forest Lipford - Part 1: Childhood Prophecy, a Cult-like Pastor & the Murder of a Family Friend. He Chooses Intellectual Dishonesty and Endures Mental Health Issues.

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"This is the reality that's been taught to me my whole life. You question that, you question everything you think you know. It was hard to do, it was hard to even process"

Forest Lipford

Forest grew up in North Carolina going to a charismatic church. A leadership change in his home church brings a new pastor who begins to express some cult-like tendencies.

When Forest's parents became interested in missionary work, the family moved to Iraq where he attended school around age 12. A friend close to Forest's family is murdered.

Forest comes to a point where he says he "chose intellectual dishonesty". This choice results in some big behavior changes in Forest. Family and friends start to take notice.

When Forest is in Ireland for a mission, it's revealed to those in leadership that he has been showing signs of self harm and an eating disorder.

I want to thank Forest for being willing to be so open about an experience in his life that was incredibly difficult.

Forest's story is fascinating and he was so articulate and reflective about his journey. He was a wonderful guest! 

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027 David Ames - Part 2: Tells His Christian Wife He's Not a Christian. A History of Doubt. The Basis for Atheist Morality. Forming Community.

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"The humanist part of me recognizes now that life is finite. It is that much more precious. My relationship with my wife and my daughters is of the greatest importance in the cosmos. There is nothing more important to me than she is and my daughters are"

David Ames
Graceful Atheist

In Part 2 of my conversation with David, he shares the moment he realized he was no longer a Christian. He also shares the painstaking process of telling his wife (who is still a Christian today) that he was no longer a Christian. 

David discusses finding comfort in the history of doubt and secular thinking throughout history. He also explains his thoughts on the basis of morality as an atheist.

It was a wonderful conversation!


Twitter: @GracefulAtheist
 

https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com
 

gracefulatheist@gmail.com

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027 David Ames - Part 1: Jesus Tells His Mother to Stop Drinking. Her Dramatic Conversion Impacts David. Grace Was Foundational as a Christian. Became a Youth Minister. He's Now the Graceful Atheist.

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"What do I believe in? I believe in people. I believe in people over ideology".

David Ames
Graceful Atheist

Jesus tells David's mother to stop drinking. Her struggles with addiction ended when she dramatically converted to Christianity. This had a major influence on David's faith.  

He approached his faith with authenticity, but soon found he was in the minority amongst friends. He learned that others approached their Christianity in different ways.

David eventually enters the ministry, before burning out and distancing himself from church activities. 

When David reads something from Greta Christina, it's the final straw. 
After 20 years of Christianity his faith broke down in 2015. 

He respects and cares for those who remain in their faith. David is interested in finding evidence based truth. He want's to discover and communicate the subtleties of why some believe, some do not and some change their minds.

https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/graceful.atheist

gracefulatheist@gmail.com

@GracefulAtheist on Twitter

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026 Dr. Irene Haralabatos - Greek Orthodox Dad & German Lutheran Mom. Rational from a Young Age. A Childhood Search for Chocolate Leads to a Discovery that Unravels Two Big Mysteries

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"There are other people who feel the way you do. There are thousands and thousands and thousands. Even if you live in a religious community. There's no reason to feel like you're alone...at all"

Dr. Irene Haralabatos

Dr. Haralabatos considers herself an atheist and a secular humanist.

Her mom was Lutheran and her dad was Greek Orthodox. However, while she was growing up her family attended a Methodist church every Sunday.

She was very rational from a young age and remembers questioning stories in the Bible like Noah's Ark. 

One day, as a young girl she was searching for some chocolate. What she ended up discovering would unravel some big mysteries.

Dr. Haralabatos had some great advice on how to respond and relate to Christians when they ask us to pray for them. As a physician, she's occasionally been asked to pray when delivering difficult news to her patients. 

Dr. Haralabatos received her MD from Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine and served her residency in internal medicine at Parkland Memorial Hospital. She completed her fellowship training in Allergy and Immunology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She is Board Certified in Allergy and Immunology. 

Twitter:
@rini6

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025 Gerardo Romero - Part 2: Surprises His Catholic Parents-Tells Them He's Agnostic. They Respond in an Unexpected Way. Catholic Gerardo vs. Skeptic Gerardo. It's Awesome Raising Kids as a Skeptic!

"Religion is a ball-and-chain for your mind. Being able to actually get out is something that deserves a great deal of respect"

Gerardo Romero

In part 2 of my interview with Gerardo, he tells his parents he's agnostic. He was not expecting their surprising response. 

I absolutely love his quote (which I used at the beginning of the episode) where he talks about something he experiences now, that he would not have as a catholic. His answer is the experience of raising his kid. Awaking his child's mind. Love that!

He makes some great references to Interstellar and The Matrix in our conversation. He also compares his catholic-self with his skeptic-self. 

He's got a great personality and was a lively and entertaining guest. I had a great time interviewing him.

Support Masa Critica Here!
https://www.patreon.com/masacritica

Spreaker:
https://www.spreaker.com/user/masacritica

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/PodcastMasaCritica/

Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=masa+critica+podcast

Twitter:
@masa_critica

@ramasknight
 

Atheists of Columbia:

Facebook-

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ateismomilitantebogota/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ateosdeneiva/

Twitter-

@bogotaatea

@AATEOSBTA

Dan Barker's Book - Losing Faith in Faith:

https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Faith-Preacher-Atheist/dp/1877733075/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510117734&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=Losing+Faith+in+Faith%2C+by+Dan+Barker.+In+Spanish

 

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025 Gerardo Romero - Part 1: Raised a Liberal Catholic and Now a Libertarian Atheist. He Discusses His Journey and the Changing Religious Landscape of Mexico. He Hosts the Masa Critica Podcast.

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"When I started deconverting. I didn't think my parents were going to be very against it. Oh man, I was in for a surprise"

Gerardo Romero

Gerardo was a lot of fun to talk with and an outgoing, friendly guy. He's energetic and a straight shooter.

Raised a liberal catholic, he made the transition to libertarian atheist later in life. A unique deconversion journey for sure. He shared with me his unique journey and his thoughts on politics and the changing religious landscape in Mexico.

He was part of Ateos Mexicanos, but the group has been less active of late. He currently has a weekly podcast, Masa Critica. It airs on Spreaker every Tuesday at 10:30pm, Central Standard Time. For our Spanish speaking listeners, definitely give it a listen!  

Support Masa Critica Here!
https://www.patreon.com/masacritica

Spreaker:
https://www.spreaker.com/user/masacritica

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/PodcastMasaCritica/

Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=masa+critica+podcast

Twitter:
@masa_critica

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024 Naked Pastor-David Hayward - Part 2

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"I appreciate the fact that I was where I was at the time. It's helped make me who I am today. It's part of my shadow past. I'm going to embrace that because it's a part of my story"

David Hayward

The second half of my conversation with David is just as good as the first!

David describes how the events in his life all came together in what felt to him like a perfect storm. He was a mess, numb and in shock after leaving his ministry of 30 years!

He talks about what got him in trouble with the church before he left. He has some great insight into the sense of purpose a minister feels in church, then how difficult it is to find that same purpose outside the church. 

Another insight I loved were his comments on having compassion for our former Christian selves. The result of this is extending that compassion to those around us. A positive and wonderful message!

This journey, although difficult, was exciting. It was like being a pioneer who's finding his own way.

https://nakedpastor.com

haywardart@gmail.com

https://thelastingsupper.com

https://www.amazon.com/Lasting-Supper-Letters-Deconstruction/dp/1535100524

Lawrence O'Donnell Losing His Mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYqsY50tUv4


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024 Naked Pastor-David Hayward - Part 1

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"It was kinda like a Jenga block tower. The block at the very bottom for me was the Bible. When that book started removing that Jenga block, everything came down"

David Hayward

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David Hayward of nakedpastor.com has a wonderful story!

He's turned his difficult experience into a way of helping others who are going through a similar struggle (e.g. helping ex-clergy re-do their resume after leaving ministry).

He was baptized Anglican as a baby, came to faith in a Baptist church when he was a teenager, changed to Pentecostal in his late teens, married another Pentecostal named Lisa, was ordained Presbyterian, pastored a Vineyard church, went Independent, and planted others.

He has a Masters in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, as well as a Diploma in Religious Studies and Ministry from McGill University in Montreal.

In 2010 he left the professional paid clergy after almost 30 years of ministry. 

He started the blog called nakedpastor in 2006, and initiated his public undressing of religion, religious community and spirituality through writings, art and cartoons. Thousands of people are challenged and entertained by nakedpastor every day.

In 2012, he launched The Lasting Supper, an online resource site and community for spiritually independent people to help themselves find companionship and support for their spiritual journeys. 

His art, cartoons, writings, and books have found their way all around the world.

He lives with his wife Lisa on the beautiful Kennebecasis River near Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. They have 3 grown children. And a dog, Sophie.

david@thelastingsupper.com


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023 Darren Garvin - Part 2

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"Find a way to be who you are as an atheist and not some preconceived notion of what an atheist is"

Darren Garvin

Darren picks up the story where we left off in Part 1. He is invited to preach a sermon at a Christian church! The response of the congregation is unexpected. 

As Darren continues to reach out to various religious leaders in his area, he finds that doing this changes him.

This interview has a very positive message and is a great example of how to keep dialogue and civility alive between groups of people with opposing points of view.  

Darren's Sermon:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kKFrg1P7zs

Darren's Resource:
Meet-up.com

https://www.facebook.com/darrencgarvin

 

WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Make it easy for others to find the podcast, leave a review:
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023 Darren Garvin - Part 1

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"I didn't want to lose my faith. I didn't want anyone to talk me out of it. Part of me was ashamed I was even having these thoughts"

Darren Garvin

Darren's family would sing in front of his Assemblies of God church in a Partridge Family-style singing group. When Darren got into his twenties, he enjoyed them and made a conscious effort to delay a serious commitment to Christ until later.

As planned, he commits to Christ in his late twenties. He starts teaching at a Christian school. When doubts begin, he feels ashamed. The turning point is when he publicly chooses to NOT help lead his students to Christ.

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Make it easy for others to find the podcast, leave a review:
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022 Anthos of The Brighter Light Podcast

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"There are great people in all walks of life. I met some of the best people, that I never would've met if I was under the strict thumb of the Jehovah's Witnesses"

Anthos

Anthos is a laid-back guy with a great sense of humor, but he's also brutally honest about the teachings of his former cult, Jehovah's Witnesses.

As a young child he knocked on doors to spread the good news about Jehovah and paradise (spoiler alert...you get a pet Lion!). 

In adulthood he's disfellowshipped, but this drives him back to the faith and getting his life back together. Later in life, when his kids are grown he decides to research his church's teachings. He finds that it's B.S., but now what does he believe in?

We also discuss petting Pandas, short haired Jesus and The System! 

He's a great guy with insightful answers and some great takeaways at the end.
 

The Brighter Light Podcast:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCem6A97qeWuui3AXNB0iY5w/featured
Twitter:
@exJW_Apostacast
#BLP or just look up Brighter Light Podcast
Email: 
brighterlightpodcast@gmail.com

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Make it easy for others to find the podcast, leave a review:
 http://voicesofdeconversion.com/new-page-1