Cellar Door Skeptics 104: Losing Religion Not Family

#104: Losing Religion Not Family

This episode of Cellar Door Skeptics explores the topics of coming out atheist and how to deal with remaining in a marriage with a Christian. Our guest for tonight is Tim Postma whom has agreed to join Tanner to talk about his conservative up bring, divinity school, his loss of faith, and his journey to continue his marriage with his Christian wife.

This episode is personal and raw allowing for a story we are hoping others can relate too. Leaving religion always has its trials, but maintain a relationship with an active Christian has it own set of unique compromises. Tim talks about what it is like to raises children in this environment while maintaining his own journey of self discovery into the secular world.

#Atheist #Christianity #Religion #Family #ComingOut

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Personal Journey Series – Reflections on the Passing of a Father


Sometimes life has a funny way of kicking you in the ass, and death has a way of helping you remember memories you once had forgotten. I don’t know where to begin or why this should even bother me the way it does. For this connection has been one that was long lost, drifted away on a sea of time and space only to be brought to my mind with the passing of a common acquaintance.


This week I received an email from an old friend. One that used to share life and happiness with me as we journeyed through love, loss, and friendship. His life was one no one would envy but his hard and honest work has always won out. This friend left for another state years ago, and we slowly started to lose touch. His favorite saying was, “We have said it all before. What more can we say?” This used to bother me, as I was feeling the distance of his path leaving mine and as the winding roads started to split apart until little to no contact was made. This friend had a hard life. I got to share some of his struggles and learn with him through many a trial as we gathered our belongings and hiked the road of life.
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For the Sake of Your Children…

I begin this entry with a metaphor that I recognize as clumsy but that seems to be the best I can muster: sometimes when I’m thinking about my 30-year-old son Jim, my mind does something that I could almost describe as throwing up two projection screens side-by-side before its own gaze. On one of those screens I view vignettes from the years that Jim and I have known each other and spent together. On the other I view snippets of my own childhood and the role my father played in it. Those two sets of vignettes always present themselves in such a way as to suggest complementarity and invite comparison. It’s invariably a cathartic experience, as deeply honest moments almost always are. I never fail to emerge from such experiences sobered by the resulting insights and wrung-out from the effort that the attaining of them cost me.


The relationship that Jim and I enjoy is thoroughly good. We have the deepest respect and admiration for each other. We understand each other on a level that I think might be far rarer among parents and their children than one might wish, and our conversations are accordingly deep and meaningful. Despite his having avoided some of my mistakes and charted a more reasonable and promising course in life than I ever did, we’re very much alike in many ways: we’re both possessed of a native curiosity that drives us to distraction and gives us no peace; we’re both musically talented and we both love language (these two traits are often bound up together); we both derive great joy from writing and from reading what others have written; we’re both pretty well aware of the way the big game is played and have equal (although not always openly-expressed) contempt for the “playas” and we both recognize how hopeless the human condition is; we both have a well-developed sense of irony, which is another name for a sense of humor; we’re both adept at sarcasm, but we tend to be restrained in its use by our humane instincts – which we also share. We both have a finely-calibrated ethical sense. We’re both atheists, but he wears his atheism much more lightly and comfortably than I do mine, probably because unlike me, he didn’t have to fight his way to it. And when I look at him I see the man I might have become had my relationship with my father been like Jim’s with me.
Continue reading “For the Sake of Your Children…”

Secular Avenue (SAFE): Your Path to a Safe Place

If you’ve spent any time on YouTube or Facebook, you’ve probably seen some pretty awful videos of responses from families when individual members “come out”. Very recently, there was a sad story about a transgender girl who killed herself after years of religious-based “therapy” and her parents’ denial of permission to start conversion therapy.  Often, atheists and agnostics coming out as non-believers and skeptics to their families isn’t as spectacular, but if you browse this blog, you can easily find deconversion stories in which the religious segment of the family cuts off, denies, or shuns individuals who no longer believe as the family feels they should.


Now there is a place for these hurting individuals to turn, especially the most vulnerable among us. Secular Avenue (SAFE) is a 501(c)3 licensed charity helping those in need of a safe place and help, whether in need because of a violent relationship, coming out lgbt, or being kicked out for religious reasons. They offer counseling service, financial and legal assistance, and can assist individuals in need with finding the resources to help them get safe. If you or someone you know is in need, or in danger, visit them or share the information.
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To Live and Love, A Woman Bares Her Scars in Defiance

I met this woman a couple days ago in a debate group.  She was defending the pro-choice position and she happened to agree with some of my arguments and statements.  So I thought I would request to be her friend on facebook.  Today, she posted what is below, I read it and was genuinely moved.  I think this story, as raw as it is, paints a great picture of a life that even through hardship has come out strong.  She has a desire to fight, a desire to love, and she has endured loss as well as tragedy.  This story is about her life and what she has overcome.  She was responding to a 30 year old who happened to call her old and told her that she was unbelievable.  This woman told her that she was old enough to be her grandmother and that there was no way she could get her facts straight because of this.


When I read the post I was in awe that someone would use age as a reason to dismiss what another individual had to say.  So I asked her if she would share her voice with us.



Below is the short story of Karen Zimmerman, a warrior for justice, a mother, a lover, and someone I am glad to have found.  Her story has touched me and I hope that it touches you as well.  This is unedited and raw; please understand the poetry of her words.  Thank you Karen for letting me share this with my audience.


-Forward Written By: Christopher Tanner

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Unpacking Activism through the Eyes of a Depressed Minion

Over the last couple months, I have spent a lot of time working on Atheist Analysis. I spend hours and hours working to help provide better content to the viewers, to help solicit more charity work within the community, and to help contribute a positive influence within the atheist community. When I first started with Atheist Analysis, I wanted to help others, to challenge the theistic belief structure, and to help atheists feel welcome and comfortable amongst the rest of society. I have not been ostracized or isolated the way others have been, but felt a desire to do more for the community of people struggling to gain acceptance within a world that is overtly pushing a theistic belief structure.



The longer I spent working here, and the more I have worked to help accomplish, I started to feel defeated. I felt that the world was crashing in, and my personal life started to suffer. The more I worked in the community, the more it bled over into my personal life. The more I talked about belief and nonbelief, the more those in my life had to hear about it. My passion not only for Atheist Analysis but also for the atheism community budded and burst. I wanted to spend every waking moment helping to create a better community where people can feel more comfortable in their skin.
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A Late Merry Christmas – Even to Non Christians

I thought it would be best to post this after Christmas lest I ruin someone’s day,even when I say nice things I seem to wreck something or other. Being an atheist who celebrates Christmas I may be looked at as a disappointment from a secular point of view; in truth most atheists I know also follow the holiday out of tradition. For me, the most important thing is to spend at least one day a year with your closest family – I don’t say all as that would be a nightmare. Giving thoughtful gifts to loved ones; drinking a silly amount of alcohol (although I drink much less than others and I’m relatively t-total all year round); trying to be a better person or at the very least trying to convince ourselves to be the person we aspire to be. That is what the season is all about for me; I can safely say I took the Christ out of Christmas many years ago.

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It’s Child Abuse

I’ll begin this diatribe by directing you to a video of a four-year-old preacher who has become a YouTube sensation: watch here

I have a keen interest in the subject of religious indoctrination. It’s a topic that haunts me almost continually – both in its manifestation in a four-year-old preacher, in the closed opinions of many of my students, in my relationship with my brother and sister, and in the never-ending reverberations of my childhood throughout all the rest of my life: the way that early indoctrination stunted my development and shaped an individual who in many respects is incomplete and unsatisfactory.

I want to share a poignant story.
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The Death of a Hero: Reflections on Changing the Future

As I sit here typing, feeling the words flow from me, I feel anguish, horror, anger, resentment, despair and an overwhelming need for a hug. Last Wednesday, we had Rebecca Hensler from Grief Beyond Belief on our show. The night was an emotional one as we learned about dealing with grief as a nonbeliever. I delved into the latter part of the show with a slightly emotional story about my father in law and his passing this year from a sudden heart attack. He was only 65 years old and there is still a hole in my heart that will not ever be filled. My father in law was a hero fighting in Vietnam, and raising a wonderful family while sacrificing his needs for the needs of the family. My father in law brought joy to us and I can proudly say he was a hero in his own way.

Tonight, I have learned that another hero of mine has passed away. The inter-webs have reported that Robin Williams has died at the age of 63 of an apparent suicide. Now many of you may scoff at the word hero, some may even lampoon me for saying so. But to me Robin Williams, even though his downfalls, is a hero in every right. A hero is defined as this, “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” I do not wish to get hung up on dictionary definitions that paint heroes only as men and I will openly state for the record that all genders have the ability to be heroes casting aside unnecessary and obsolete limitations. But this definition of a distinguished, courageous, and admired individual who has done noble things is what drives me to label Mr. Williams a hero.
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