Bonus Episode: The Psychology of Conversion and Deconversion (adapted from Robert Jay Lifton)

March 17, 2019


This special bonus episode draws upon the work of psychologist Dr Robert Lifton and his seminal 1961 work on the psychology of brainwashing, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of "Brainwashing" in China


In particular, I make use of Lifton's 12-step model to explore further the psychology of conversion, as well as what happens to a person who deconstructs his or her religious faith and leaves their church or cult group behind--the process of "deconversion," or spiritual transitioning.


This is a helpful discussion particularly for ex-evangelicals, but also for those who have left a cult. Unpicking the conditioning, and understanding how you were controlled and manipulated will help you reconstruct your sense of self--and your identity. 

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Is Evangelicalism a Cult? Recovering From Our Experiences (with Keith Davis)

March 8, 2019


In this episode of MindShift podcast, I catch up with Keith Davis, formerly of the Pilgrims & Prodigals podcast. Last year we had a great chat with ended up on their show, and since then a lot has changed--both for Keith and myself.

Since I've been studying the psychological aspects of how cults (and some evangelical churches too) control, manipulate and coerce their followers, I wanted to see if Keith's experiences in evangelicalism matched up to the classic markers of cults as laid out by psychiatrist Robert Lifton in his 1981 article, "Cult Formation."

In our exploration of the cult-like aspects of evangelicalism, Keith and I discuss theology and coercion--why the dogmas of evangelicalism, along with the mind control aspects, have affected us psychologically and in other ways--and how we're recovering from it all.

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054: “Cults Inside Out”: Exploring How Cults Operate (with Rick Alan Ross)

February 22, 2019

This week’s episode of MindShift podcast features cult expert Rick Alan Ross, author of the book Cults Inside Out: How People Get in and Can Get Out. Rick is not just someone who is informed about cults–he is a court-certified expert who has testified in multiple cases in courts all across America related to cults.

In this informative and thought-provoking episode, I have a whole series of questions I had prepared for Rick, as I had been doing reading and research on how cults operate, controlling and manipulating their followers. In our discussion, we covered not only most of the questions, but went further into areas related to cults: fundamentalism and its associated dangers.

If you’re an ex-evangelical, or ex-cult member looking to educate yourself and reconstruct your identity, then this episode is for you!

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053: Exposing the Watchtower Organization: Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses Speak Out (with Lara Kaput and Steven Unthank)

February 8, 2019

Joining me from Melbourne, Australia, this week’s guests are 2 ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses who left the Watchtower Organization behind.Masquerading as a mainstream Christian religion, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are in fact a dangerous and controlling cult.

Beyond indoctrinating and controlling its own members, the Watchtower maintains its hold over their followers with threats of shunning and being labelled an apostate for leaving. Beyond this, there are numerous accounts of child sexual abuse that have come to light over the last several years that the Watchtower has sought to cover up.

Worse yet are the ways in which the Witnesses have shamed and silenced the victims themselves.In this episode, Lara and Steven share their stories of their time spent in the cult, as well as discussing how they have since begun to reconstruct their lives after leaving the Watchtower.

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052: “Leatherbound Terrorism”: Christianity and Control (with Chris Kratzer)

January 25, 2019

In this episode of MindShift podcast, I talk to ex-pastor, ex-evangelical Christian, Chris Kratzer.

Chris is the author of the new book Leatherbound Terrorism: Crucified by Conservative Christianity, Resurrected by Jesus. Although Chris is no fan of conservative evangelicalism, somehow he has not abandoned his beliefs in God and Jesus--albeit in a radically different form.

So why hasn't Chris thrown out the baby with the bathwater, as so many ex-evangelicals have done, and abandon the faith altogether? Find out why, along with Chris's thoughts on the state of evangelicalism today, in this great conversation.

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051: Exploring the Connections Between Evangelicalism and the World of the Cults

January 11, 2019

In this inaugural episode of MindShift podcast for 2019, I begin to explore what--if any--connections exist between the world of recognized, mainstream cults and the evangelical church.

Most evangelicals would doubtless be outraged and offended if anyone suggested their church might in any way resemble a cult. But since the symptoms reported by both ex-cultists and ex-evangelicals are remarkably similar, I began to wonder if there surely must be a connection between the two.

Listen in to find out more on this fascinating and intriguing topic!

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050: Jesus Had Sex? Exploring “The Last Temptation of Christ” & Purity Culture (with “Seamus Clarke”)

December 21, 2018

In this final episode of MindShift podcast for 2018, I bring back a guest from the buckle of the Bible belt in the South of the United States--one "Seamus Clarke"--who still feels it's not safe to use his real name!

In our previous episodes, Seamus mentioned that the film "The Last Temptation of Christ" was hugely helpful in his deconstruction journey. So in this episode, we not only unpack the movie in more detail, we examine the evangelical and fundamentalist responses to it--30 years ago back in 1988 when it came out.

We also delve into the many issues the film raises: the humanity of Christ, how the portrayal of him having sex impacts upon the evangelical purity culture, the reliability of the Gospels, and more.

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049: Healing Religious Trauma Through Spirituality (with Andrew Jasko)

December 14, 2018
Several months ago, Andrew was a guest on MindShift podcast and provided a lot of very helpful analysis regarding much of what causes religious trauma, particularly in evangelical Christianity.
In this episode, Andrew and I get into the specifics of what emotional health looks like, particularly for the person who has de-converted from religion. Andrew not only explores spirituality as a path for healing from religious trauma, he also provides a wide range of options for exploration.

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048: Reconstruction: The Total Reorientation of Your Former Worldview (with Andrew Gurevich)

December 7, 2018
In September of this year I caught up with Andrew Gurevich down in Portland, OR and sat down for a great interview around the topic of "reconstruction after deconstruction."
In this process, it turns out that reconstructing involves nothing less than...a total reorientation of our former worldviews, belief systems, and identities. If you've left religion behind, and are wondering what happens next--then you'll get a lot out of this wide-ranging and challenging conversation.
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047: Why Do They Hate Us? Making Peace with the Muslim World (with Steve Slocum)

November 30, 2018

Back in September in Seattle I caught up with ex-missionary and author, Steve Slocum, for a great podcast interview about his upcoming book: Why Do They Hate Us? Making Peace with the Muslim World.

The title of his book is taken from a speech given by President George W. Bush mere weeks after 9/11--giving Bush's justification for "why they (Muslims?) hate us." Steve explains not only what that speech meant both to Muslims and those in the West since then, but also offers up a way forward for understanding and peace to occur.

In a world fueled by hateful rhetoric, coming from political and religious leaders alike, this kind of conversation is sorely needed today.

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