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Writer and speaker, Ryan Bell, of A Year Without God, shares insightful commentary on religion and irreligion in North America and engaging interviews with believers, heretics and the uncertain.

Writer and speaker, Ryan Bell, of A Year Without God, shares insightful commentary on religion and irreligion in North America and engaging interviews with believers, heretics and the uncertain.
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Writer and speaker, Ryan Bell, of A Year Without God, shares insightful commentary on religion and irreligion in North America and engaging interviews with believers, heretics and the uncertain.




(626) 817-2285


084 - Rethinking Religious Trauma with Brian Peck

On this episode I speak with my friend Brian Peck about the importance of taking a trauma-informed approach to treating what he calls adverse religious experiences. Rather than merely pathologizing religion, Brian suggests that we recognize the reality of religious abuse and then focus on treating trauma using the best evidence-based practice. "Religious abuse is what happened to you," he says. "Trauma is your body's response to the abuse." This is a conversation I've been wanting to have...


083 - Ex-Files: A conversation with Kristi Kiger Upman

In this episode I speak with Kristi Kiger Upman. For ten years Kristi worked for the Southeast White House, a ministry associated with The Family. She tells me about how she became a Christian, her experience working in evangelical Christian ministry, and how she ultimately left her faith. Kristi was at the Southeast White House at the same time Jeff Sharlet was at Ivanwald. In episode 81 I speak with Jeff Sharlet so be sure to check that out as well. Please support the podcast. Visit...


082 - This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom with Martin Hägglund

On this episode of the podcast I speak with Yale professor of comparative literature and humanities, Martin Hägglund, about his new book, "This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom." Unlike any book I've ever read before, Martin weaves together a secular understanding of life that is rooted in our necessarily fragile, temporal existence, with the logical outcome of this understanding of secular life in our social and political lives. In, "This Life," Hägglund argues that the social...


081 - The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy with Jeff Sharlet

This week on the podcast I speak with Jeff Sharlet, the New York Times bestselling author of seven books, including The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power and C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy. Today, Netflix released a five-part documentary series entitled, The Family, based upon Sharlet's stellar investigative reporting. Watch the Netflix series: Buy Jeff Sharlet's books The Family -...


080 - Inciting Incident: A Conversation with Marissa and Bethany

This week on the podcast I speak with Marissa Alexa McCool and Bethany Futrell, the co-hosts of Inciting Incident podcast. Marissa is a podcaster, author, performer, speaker, and an LGBT rights and atheist activist. She is a trans woman, married, partnered, and a parent. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her family. Marissa graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2017 with degrees in English, Cinema and Media Studies, and Anthropology, while also studying theatre, Shakespeare,...


078 - Post-Religious Mental Health: A Conversation with Suandria Hall

Welcome to a special edition of the Life After God podcast. I'm excited to share conversations with you from a growing number of professionals who specialize in religious trauma, deconversion, and post-religious mental health. My goal with these conversations is to offer you a diverse range of perspectives, share practical insights you can use in your daily life, and introduce you to some amazing humans who are committed to helping others thrive after leaving religion. My name is Brian...


077 - Remembering George Tiller: A conversation with Gretchen Koch

In this bonus episode I speak Gretchen Koch on the occasion of the 10-year anniversary of the murder of George Tiller, the famous abortion doctor from Wichita, Kansas, who was shot and killed during the worship service at the Reformation Lutheran Church. Gretchen's parents were members of the same church and in attendance that day. Gretchen herself was visiting her parents but was at home and heard what happened later that day. Check out Gretchen's comic based on her parents' recollection...


076 - Humanism & Our Political Commitments with James Croft

In this episode I speak with James Croft, a leader at the Ethical Society of St. Louis where he has been for the past five years. James is a humanist educator, activist, and sought after speaker around the world. He earned an MA in Education from University of Cambridge and an Ed.D. from Harvard Graduate School of Education. In this conversation we talk about briefly about the origins of the Ethical Society, his experience at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, his experience of the murder of...


075 - Escaping from Jehovah's Witnesses with Lloyd Evans

On this episode I speak with Lloyd Evans. Lloyd is the founder and senior editor of - a website that promotes freethought among Jehovah's Witnesses. He is also author of "The Reluctant Apostate," a book that chronicles his experiences growing up as a JW and his journey to freedom from Watchtower indoctrination. His "John Cedars" YouTube channel, which has nearly 50,000 subscribers, hosts a range of videos aimed at dissecting the various teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, as well...


074 - What do we do with grief? with Alana Carter and Garrett Price

On this episode I speak with Alana Carter, a senior at Nazareth College, about her experience of loss and grief as a post-theist. Then I talk with Garrett Price, a mental health professional working in end-of-life care, about what is happening in grief and how to face it as an atheist. The question I get more than any other is how to face death as an atheist. Whether it is the death of a loved one or ones own death, the prospect of mortality is one of the main things that keeps religion...


073 - Remembering Jean Vanier with Gretchen Meader

On this special NEWS BRIEF edition of the Life After God podcast, host Ryan Bell speaks with Gretchen Meader about Jean Vanier who died today at the age of 90. Jean Vanier was a Catholic philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian who in 1968 founded L'Arche, a community where people with disabilities live with those who care for them. LINKS Jean Vanier, Savior of People on the Margins, Dies at 90 (New York Times) |...


072 - Dying Out Loud with Dave Warnock

On this episode, Ryan speaks with Dave Warnock. Dave is the father of two daughters and a son, a former evangelical pastor in the Foursquare Church, now an atheist, and a lover of life. About six weeks ago Dave was diagnosed with ALS—Lou Gehrigs Disease—for which there is no treatment and life expectancy is between three and five years. As a result of this heavy news, Dave has chosen to live the remainder of his life very deliberately; to die out loud, as he says. We talk about his...


071 - Ryan Becomes a Moral Realist: A Conversation with Aaron Rabinowitz

In this episode of the podcast, Ryan speaks with Aaron Rabinowitz about ethics and the current context and conditions of moral and ethical formation today. It is a wide ranging conversation, at the end of which Ryan experiences a surprising conversion! LINKS Video of Aaron's presentation to Triangle Freethought Society | Embrace the Void podcast | Philosophers in Space podcast | What is moral...


070 - Talking About Islam Without Being a Bigot with Eiynah

In this episode I speak with Eiynah about the challenges of speaking about Islam and Muslims in our current political climate. We recorded this conversation on Wednesday evening, March 20, just five days after the horrific terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that claimed the lives of 50 people. How can we talk about Islam and Muslims without being a bigot? On the one hand, individuals absolutely have the right to challenge and criticize and type of ideology or...


069- #ChurchToo: Sexual Abuse in the Church with Emily Joy

This week on the podcast I speak with Emily Joy about her experience leaving evangelicalism under a cloud of sexual abuse. Years later she and a friend started the #ChurchToo hashtag which has become a national phenomenon. BIO Emily is a spoken word poet, yoga teacher and activist living and working in Nashville, Tennessee. Her advocacy takes place at the intersection of faith, sexuality and healing, and her work has been featured in Time, Cosmopolitan, Jezebel, Mother Jones, The...


068 - What Atheism Can't Deliver with Christian Smith

This week on the podcast I speak with author and sociologist, Christian Smith. Christian Smith is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame. Smith is well known for his research focused on religion, adolescents and emerging adults, and social theory. Smith received his MA and PhD from Harvard University in 1990 and his BA from Gordon College in 1983. He was a Professor of Sociology at the...


067 - Thrive After Religion with Curiosity

Brian Peck here with a bonus episode of the Life After God podcast. Max Tang and I recently hosted a webinar where we explored how curiosity can help you thrive after religion. I'm excited to share that conversation with you today. Several years after leaving the church I grew up in, I discovered that while the content of my beliefs had changed, I was still viewing the world through old ways of thinking. This realization began a personal and professional quest to find effective antidotes to...


066 - A Crisis of Compassion with Alix Jules

On this episode I speak with Alix Jules about his journey of faith and humanism. We also talk about the state of politics in America as secular humanists who care about marginalized groups. At one point in the conversation Alix said, "we have a crisis of compassion" in this country and what we need to realize is that "we're all in this together." Alix is a writer, activist, and social commentator who typically discusses race, religion, and politics in culture. He’s been featured in Ebony...


065 - When I Spoke in Tongues with Jessica Wilbanks

On this episode I speak with Jessica Wilbanks, author of the new memoir, When I Spoke In Tongues: A Story of Faith and Its Loss. Jessica received her MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Houston, where she served as nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast. An active member of the literary community in Houston, Jessica frequently teaches writing workshops for Inprint, Writespace, Grackle & Grackle, Writers’ League of Texas, and Boldface, the University of Houston’s annual conference for...


064 - Ex-Files: Surviving "Christian Education" with Alexis Record

Content Advisory: religious trauma, physical and sexual abuse Today on The Ex-Files I speak with Alexis Record. Alexis is a former Christian, raised in a fundamentalist home. In our conversation she recounts her experiences of profound loss, her harrowing encounters with fundamentalism in Christian missions, brushes with death, extreme shaming, and misadventures in Christian education. Today, Alexis the mother of two remarkable children, a volunteer leader at Sunday Assembly San Diego, an...