Religious Deconstruction

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A while back I came across this interview of two well-known YouTubers (Rhett and Link, from Good Mythical Morning) who talked about becoming agnostic. I remember noting that they used the word “deconstruction” in a place where I would have used “deconversion.” Fast forward a year, and I see many references to deconstruction of faith. I don’t know if Rhett and Link have moved the conversation towards deconstruction, but I have noticed there is a meaningful difference between deconversion and deconstruction.

Deconstruction can include people who still hold religious belief.

The focus of deconstruction is a critical view of religious beliefs. They don’t necessarily have to be abandoned under such scrutiny. People can look at a belief they hold and decide that it needs to change.

Anyone who has or previously had a deeply held religious belief can recognize the weight of what’s going on. Deconstruction appears to be a gentler way of discussing beliefs that are tied to strong emotions and a person’s belief in reality. Getting a person to even hold a mirror up to those beliefs is exhausting, let alone getting a person to look in that mirror.

Deconstruction can still draw the ire of the zealous.

In the above interview, Rhett and Link discussed the negative reactions they received just for coming out as agnostic. Look through the comments section, and you’ll see people of Christian faith talk about how they shouldn’t judge these two for their beliefs – as if their beliefs were something in need of judgment. Moreover, you can search YouTube about their deconstruction process and find more than a few videos of people trying to refute the issues they raise.

I can’t say I’m surprised by the reaction. There is always a negative response from some Christian communities when famous people talk about leaving the religion behind. It’s because leaving the faith is a pretty big deal. People are openly talking about turning their backs on a deity they believe is very real.

Nonetheless, I think it’s a positive step when people can find ways to be more honest with themselves and others. If talking about deconstruction gets people to be more accepting of others, then it’s a conversation worth having. Who knows? Maybe people might become more accepting of godless atheist heathens like me.

2 thoughts on “Religious Deconstruction

  1. So long as it’s a two way street I agree with you SB. Having witnessed some particularly nasty and prolonged attacks on former atheists after a turn to religion, including claims such as “she was never a true atheist” (now where have I heard similar claims before?). While I can understand criticism of specific beliefs (or non-beliefs), character assassinations including some imaginative speculation on possible motives for “betraying the cause” go beyond the pale.

    And I have been accused of being a Christian fundamentalist masquerading as a “liberal” with the intent of persuading atheists that ultimately they’d be better off by becoming a believer (in what I have no idea); that I shouldn’t be allowed near children because I hold dangerous (but unspecified) beliefs; that I’ve been indoctrinated by fear into believing that I must obey some sky daddy; I’m a disgrace to the human race; and more. There’s even a few posts dedicated to why I’m a believer, and my motives for being so, some of which is speculative, some imaginative, some patently false, and very little that’s factual.

    I appreciate that for many who leave religion it’s a very painful process, and it’s very unlikely that anyone moving to religion goes through the same kind of self doubts, but attacks on those who move from one belief system to another seem to be attacked no matter what their former belief was. It doesn’t need to be this way.

    I can’t apologise on behalf of Americans for the rough treatment Former Christians receive during and after deconversion, or deconstruction (I’m neither American nor Christian), but I can apologise on behalf of humanity for the intolerance of so many towards those who hold differing beliefs, especially towards those whose beliefs are in the minority.

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    • It has to be a two way street. I agree that it’s hard to navigate. People can be vile in defense of their tribes, to the point of manufacturing claims.

      I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with similar issues.

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