More speakers will be announced in the months to come and speakers, as well as the schedule, are subject to change. In the meantime, if you would like to nominate a speaker with authority on the topic of religious trauma, get in touch with us and let us know! Click here.
Dr. Ray is the founder and President of the Board of Directors of Recovering from Religion. He has been a psychologist for over thirty years and is the author of four books: two on organizational teamwork as well as "The God Virus-How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture" and "Sex and God-How Religion Distorts Sexuality".
Dr. Ray has been a student of religion most of his life and holds a Masters Degree in religion as well as a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology/Anthropology with a Doctorate in Psychology.
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Dr. Marlene Winell is a psychologist and specialist in religious recovery consulting. Her background includes over 30 years of experience in human services, in both community and academic settings. She holds a doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University.
Born and raised overseas by missionary parents, Marlene was immersed in fundamentalist Christianity from childhood. She moved away from that religion during college and found the transition process so difficult and intriguing that she began to research it professionally. In 1994 she published Leaving the Fold: a Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion, which has become a leading self-help book in the field of religious recovery.
In 2011, Dr. Winell named Religious Trauma Syndrome in a series of three published articles in the British journal, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Today. Since then the term has spread, providing a needed name for this condition.
Based in Western Massachusetts, Dr. Winell is the founder and director of Journey Free, an agency providing resources for religious recovery. Programs include individual consultation, an online support group, retreats, recovery courses, and a helping professionals group. The next Religious Recovery Bootcamp is coming up in July, 2021. This is an intensive 20-week course covering all aspects of religious recovery in a group of 15 people.
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Mandisa Thomas, a native of New York City, is the founder and President of Black Nonbelievers, Inc. Although never formally indoctrinated into belief, Mandisa was heavily exposed to Christianity, Black Nationalism, and Islam. As a child she loved reading, and enjoyed various tales of Gods from different cultures, including Greek and Ghanaian. “Through reading these stories and being taught about other cultures at an early age, I quickly noticed that there were similarities and differences between those deities and the God of the Christian Bible. I couldn’t help but wonder what made this God so special that he warrants such prevalence today.” she recalls.
Mandisa has many media appearances to her credit, including CBS Sunday Morning, CNN.com, and Playboy, The Humanist, and JET magazines. She has been a guest on podcasts such as The Humanist Hour and Ask an Atheist, as well as the documentaries Contradiction and My Week in Atheism. Mandisa currently serves on the Boards for American Atheists and the American Humanist Association, and previously for Foundation Beyond Belief, and the Secular Coalition for America. She is also an active speaker and has presented at conferences/conventions for the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Secular Student Alliance, and many others.
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Dan Barker is a former evangelical minister, missionary, evangelist and Christian songwriter who preached for nineteen years. His book Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists tells his dramatic story of de-conversion. With his wife Annie Laurie Gaylor, he is currently co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), co-host of Freethought Radio and Freethought Matters (TV). Dan is a co-founder of The Clergy Project, which provides support, counseling and employment advice for ministers, priests, rabbis and other religious professionals who have abandoned belief in the supernatural. His many books include Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning; Mere Morality; GOD: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction; and Maybe Yes, Maybe No: A Guide For Young Skeptics. A professional jazz pianist, Dan wrote many of the freethought songs that appear on FFRF’s three musical albums. He also wrote and recorded many of the songs for educator Joy Berry's series of "living Skills" for children, including the song "Goin'gThrough Trauma."
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Jeremiah Camara is the director and producer of the documentary film Contradiction: A Question of Faith, which examines the saturation of churches in African American communities coexisting with poverty and powerlessness. Contradiction can be viewed on Amazon Prime Video. Camara is the author of the books Holy Lockdown: Does The Church Limit Black Progress? and The New Doubting Thomas: The Bible, Black Folks & Blind Belief. Camara is also the creator of the widely watched YouTube video series Slave Sermons… a mini-movie series addressing the harmful effects of religion. His latest documentary project is titled, Holy Hierarchy: The Religious Roots of Racism in America. Holy Hierarchy… explains how the presumptions of a Supreme Being in colonial America led to precepts and beliefs in supreme human beings and how these beliefs morphed their way into the legal system and ultimately turned racism into an institution.
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R.L. Stollar is a child liberation theologian and an advocate for children and abuse survivors. The author of an upcoming book on child liberation theology, The Kingdom of Children, Ryan has an M.H.S. in Child Protection from Nova Southeastern University and an M.A. in Eastern Classics from St. John’s College. He has served on the board of and run numerous social media campaigns for child advocacy organizations, including the Child-Friendly Faith Project, the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, and Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out.
Homeschooled from kindergarten through high school graduation, Ryan worked over eight years as a public communications educator to high school students in homeschooling communities. Co-founder of the viral website Homeschoolers Anonymous, his advocacy work on behalf of homeschooled children and alumni has been featured in national and international media, including The Guardian, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, New Yorker, and ProPublica. Acclaimed books on American evangelicalism—such as Julie Ingersoll’s Building God’s Kingdom (Oxford University Press) and Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s Jesus and John Wayne (Liveright Publishing)—have cited his research and reporting on the evangelical homeschooling movement, the subject of Ryan’s next book.
Ryan is a proud resident of the California Bay Area, where he serves his county as an Election Officer Trainer and lives with his spouse and two cats. Follow his work online at rlstollar.com or on Twitter at @RLStollar.
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Author of The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women are Walking Out on Religion, and Others Should, too, Candace Gorham is a licensed mental health counselor. She is a former ordained minister turned atheist activist, researcher, and writer on issues related to religion, secular social justice, and the African-American community. She is also a member of the Black Humanist Alliance of AHA, The Secular Therapist Project, The Clergy Project, and the Secular Student Alliance Speaker's Bureau.
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Jennifer French Tomasic
Jennifer French Tomasic is a mental health counselor working with clients across the United States and Internationally. She has a Master’s Degree in the Psychology of Coercive Control and has been conducting research through Salford University, overseen by Dr. Linda Dubrow-Marshall, related to the impact of Internal Family Systems (IFS) for those who self identify as having experienced coercive control. While Jennifer works with a variety of clients and therapeutic models, her expertise is working with individuals who have experienced religious or spiritual trauma, often found in high demand / high control groups. In July 2022 Jennifer is expected to complete her Post Cult Counseling Certification (PCC) through Gillie Jenkinson’s Hope Valley Counseling.
Jennifer’s history includes 11 years in a mystical Christian cult that she left in 2012. Her captivating experience of how she transitioned both in and out of the organization is contained in episodes 1 & 2 of the Project Hope Podcast, which she hosts for families, friends and anyone who has been in groups of high demand / high control. For more information, visit Jennifer-French.com.
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Elam Zook is a writer, activist, and community organizer addressing Amish and plain community issues. His work has been published in The Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies. Elam's efforts were instrumental in organizing the groundbreaking Disrupting History: Reclaiming Our Amish Story conference, which challenged conventional narratives of Amish life. He has also served as a consultant for a class on the Amish at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.
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Caleb W. Lack
Caleb W. Lack, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Central Oklahoma. A licensed clinical psychologist, he is an award-winning educator and bestselling author of six books on topics from critical thinking and pseudoscience to racism and sexism in early psychology to various kinds of psychopathology. He has also authored more than 60 scientific publications relating to the assessment and treatment of psychological problems such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, trichotillomania, pediatric mood disorders, and posttraumatic stress. In addition, Dr. Lack has presented nationwide and internationally at conferences on a variety of topics, is on the editorial board of scientific journals, and is a reviewer for both journals and granting agencies.
Dr. Lack’s clinical interest in evidence-based practice developed while in graduate school for Clinical Psychology at Oklahoma State University and during his predoctoral internship in Clinical Child/Pediatric Psychology at the University of Florida. He specializes in the treatment of children and adults with anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, such as chronic tics, Tourette’s Syndrome, trichotillomania, and excoriation. He is frequently interviewed by local, national, and international media outlets, as well as consults for a variety of national and international companies.
In addition to courses on his clinical and research specialties in the anxiety disorders and evidence-based psychological practice, Dr. Lack also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on critical thinking, science, and pseudoscience. He writes the Great Plains Skeptic column on the Skeptic Ink Network, as well as presenting about skepticism and critical thinking frequently. He is the former Director of the Secular Therapist Project, which aims to bring together non-religious persons seeking mental health treatment with secular, evidence-based providers. Dr. Lack is also the founding advisor of the Skeptics@UCO, a campus group dedicated to the application and promotion of reason and scientific skepticism in all areas of life.
A native Oklahoman, Dr. Lack grew up in the rural community of Mountain View, where his parents still reside and farm and ranch on land that has been owned by the family for over 100 years. He currently resides in Edmond, Oklahoma with his brilliant son, two stalwart Anatolian/Australian shepherd dogs, four vicious barn cats, six insufferable goats, and a snorting herd of kunekune pigs on a wonderful little property called Freethought Farm.
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Luna Lindsey Corbden
Luna Lindsey Corbden was born into the LDS (Mormon) Church and left the faith in 2001, at age 26. They are autistic and genderfluid, live in Washington State, and write about topics of interest, including psychology, mind control, culture, and autism. Their book, Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control, helps religious trauma survivors unpack their conditioning by deconstructing the manipulation techniques used by the LDS Church. They are an advocate for marginalized people who exist within or at the fringes of authoritarian religions, particularly Mormonism. Corbden also writes science fiction and fantasy. When they're not busy traveling to improbable worlds, or thinking hard about this improbable world, they're probably snuggled with their cat and an iPad. More about Corbden's work can be found at www.RecoveringAgency.com, and they can be reached on Twitter @corbden.
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David Teachout is a mental health therapist and photographer, focused on and teaching how creativity intersects with mental flexibility in working through the inevitable difficulties in life. David grew up as a Christian fundamentalist, attending a bible college and receiving a bachelor’s in theology and psychology. During his studies there, David deconverted and has been on a journey of more deeply appreciating the many nuances of humanity ever since. David has a master’s in both forensic psychology and counseling psychology, and is currently at work on a doctorate in clinical psychology. David has been actively working within the field of psychology as therapist, social worker, advocate, and subject-matter-expert, for over fifteen years. In his spare time, David enjoys reading a copious amount, both fiction and non-fiction, exploring perspective through photography, and maintains a blog at www.lifeweavings.com and a podcast at www.humanitysvalues.com
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Emily Hedrick, M.Div, CTSS (Certified Trauma Support Specialist), is program director at Journey Free, certified Forward Facing Trauma coaching practitioner, and religious-trauma informed spirituality coach. She has been deconstructing since she was 17 and roamed religious circles as an atheist for over a decade, 4 of those years as a pastor. Happily out of the fold and out as a godless human since 2020, Emily enjoys connecting people with others who understand and empathize with experiences of religious harm. She believes humans have incredible capacity to both harm and heal each other in group settings and seeks to harness that capacity toward healing and growth in creative ways with her work.
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Beatrice Weber was raised in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and was married off to a Rabbi in an arranged marriage before graduating high school. She attended private religious schools her entire childhood and sent all her children to religious schools as well. She later attained an undergraduate degree in Psychology and an MBA. Her youngest son currently attends a religious school as per a family court order. In 2019, she filed a complaint with NYC and NYS on behalf of her youngest son, since he was not receiving a basic education. In 2020 she was featured in a New York Times video Op-ed, calling on the politicians and education officials to step in and ensure that all children in NYS receive an education.
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