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Author: Susan Cottrell, FreedHearts

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Changing the human conversation of love and inclusion. Susan Cottrell is the Mom of two LGBTQ children; the founder of FreedHearts; an international speaker with a viral TEDx talk; a pastor and theologian; an acclaimed author; and a fierce advocate and ally. In her unique tender, relatable style, Susan is a prominent voice of unconditional love and lavish inclusion. Powerful, authentic, and relevant in today’s society, Susan has a lot to say. The Advocate calls her their “Favorite Affirming Matriarch.” OutSmart magazine calls her "The Mother of all MamaBears!" Reverend Ashley Harness from Auburn Seminary says, “Susan has this fierce, loving, don’t mess with me, Mom vibe.” If you have been excluded, or if someone close to you has been excluded because of who they are or who they love - or maybe you have been the one doing the excluding - the FreedHearts podcast is for you. Join Susan, along with her husband Rob, on the journey. You are not alone. Welcome home!
117 Episodes
Let's be clear: the false narrative that links grooming with LGBTQ+ individuals is nothing but a despicable lie, born out of hatred and ignorance.  The truth is that most child sexual abusers are heterosexual. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with it.  What's at play is a sick and twisted desire for power, not love. Yes, kids ARE being groomed – prepped, taught, indoctrinated, predisosed – but what they are being groomed for is hate and conditional love and bigotry.We are being played with this false narrative and enough is enough. Support the show
We have all heard about decluttering your stuff – keeping what is important and what makes you happy. Well, the same is true with decluttering our beliefs – especially for those of us who are deconstructing from harmful, false religious teaching.  When you have a collection of beliefs that don’t work for you – that don’t focus on loving God, loving others, and loving yourself, it is such a gift to you and those around you to declutter those beliefs. As you discover the truth about how far out of hand those beliefs have gotten, how hurtful they are, you can neutralize them! Lift them off your shoulders. It’s time to declutter your beliefs, so your heart can be free to love and be loved.Support the show
The LGBTQ+ debate gets crazy out there doesn’t it? Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one: “If two men can get married, why can’t I marry my dog?”  This is a real thing people throw around.  Or, “If two men can have sex, why can’t I have sex with a child?”  These are real things that are said by people trying to defend homophobic and transphobic views, and distract from the real conversation, from the truth. I don’t know if they’re just inciting us, or if they really mean it… but in either case, we’re going to deconstruct this silliness today, and talk all about CONSENT!Support the show
The word woke is all over our screens, the campaign trail, the news… but what does it really mean and where did it start? How did it become a bad thing? The earliest usages of woke date back to the early 20th century and the idea of Black people “keeping their eyes open” to the realities of white supremacist violence. “Stay woke!” continued as a warning call until it started to enter the mainstream and lose its original meaning. And the non-affirming, ultra-religious crowd has now succeeded in making “woke” a bad, negative term. But it’s not, and it shouldn’t be – and we want to help reclaim that.  #WokeAFSupport the show
The trouble with religious rules is that they are often motivated by fear and written by men who want to strengthen their power and control.Many of us who are deconstructing still struggle with the deeply ingrained, false, damaging teaching based in keeping the rules. In this episode, we ask ourselves “Do we have any religious rules which get in the way of loving others and loving ourselves?”And, we give you 10 religious rules that every person should absolutely break! :-) Support the show
Fear! It’s such a powerful, destructive force.We talk a lot about how so much of what we see out there – and what we face in our own hearts – is all about fear. And are we afraid of a PRETEND God??Beloved, we don’t need to be afraid – but what do we do?So, we talk today about how we might quiet those fears, and we share two lovely pieces from the amazing writer and poet Jacqueline Woodson, from her memoir in poetry, Brown Girl Dreaming.Support the show
A lot of non-affirming Christians and churches are trying to fool you. But we are not going to let them. They are trying to change their tactics, their tone. The marketing and phrases seem to be welcoming to those in our community who are LGBTQ+. But they are not welcoming at all!To guard our hearts, we need to be able to hear and recognize these tricks, these lies.So, we want to let you know some ‘sneaky’ things you might hear from churches, people on social media, or even Christian friends and family.What they say, and what they really mean! Support the show
We are going to talk about truth. I know that’s kind of a trigger word – as what is truth, whose truth is it.  It’s easy to get confused. Is there something we can default to?  A core we can stand on?  Especially when comes to Christianity, when that word alone can be triggering because of so much false teaching, harm, hate and hypocrisy -- unlike the Jesus they claim to follow.  So, today we’re talking about the truth that really sets you free, and about if Jesus is still relevant after we have deconstructed our faith.Support the show
Many of you know how to respond to the accusations and arrows coming your way.  We know the truth in our hearts, but we sometimes struggle on how to respond with the confidence and peace we have.And for some of us, these questions can be a real stumbling block, especially to those new on the journey of deconstructing or of living their authentic lives. We want to address 4 questions that non-affirming Christians commonly ask that can be scary – that can cause us to pause. They shouldn’t, and they don’t need to, but they do.  So, let’s deal with them, so our hearts can be even more free to love and be loved!Support the show
Multiple times a day, we get attacked and accused - as parents & allies. And it does not even compare to what we hear from our gay and trans kids about what they go through.  :-(One of the things we all hear a lot is that our ears are just being tickled, that we are cherry-picking verses, that we are rewriting the truth so that we can justify sin – that we are taking the EASY way out. They say that unconditional love is the easy way out!So, we're talking about this – because we know many of you hear and deal with the same things. Support the show
Every day, we hear from people who grew up in a church that teaches a conditional God who’ll drop you into hell – and if you end up there it’s your fault anyway. It’s like, you’re barely acceptable to God as it is, you lowly worm, but if you’re gay or trans or bisexual, you are basically sh*t out of luck!  That’s what many people are taught, and it’s surprisingly stuck in our heads. We know better by now, we’ve been taught better by now, but dang, the fear just keeps popping up! We want to help get all that hurtful false teaching about God – and about you -  out of your head. A powerful, intimate episode. Support the show
Anyone out there who has people who are trying to change them? Yeah. Some with good intentions, I guess. And some, let’s be honest, with bad intentions based on fear.So, how do we respond when someone reaches out to us to help us get "back on the path", "get back in God’s will", "get back on the straight (ha!) and narrow"?? Especially if it is someone we are close to.Support the show
When we were in the non-affirming evangelical church, we did not realize how toxic it was or how sick it was making us. When we opened the box we had God in, when we began to deconstruct those false teachings, we begin to see all the symptoms – our views, attitudes, lack of compassion, judgment.We came to understand how sick toxic religion had made us. Support the show
The false teachings about hell and the devil do serious damage to our hearts – especially those who have been rejected by the church for who they are, or for what they stand for.  It IS the number one fear for people who are LGBTQ+ and come from Christianity. It IS the number one fear for people who are deconstructing their faith.  "Oh crap, is the devil making me do all of this? What if I am wrong, could I end up in hell?" Support the show
I think we all know parents who want their child to change. Maybe you are that parent. A Mom or Dad of an LGBTQ+ child and you feel alone, and don’t know what to do. Thank you for loving your child enough to listen to this episode. You’re not alone, and perhaps this is the answer you’ve been praying for.Support the show
Being straight… or being gay or lesbian or bisexual… or being transgender… or being queer, or intersex… is NOT a choice. It is who we are. It is how things are.  It was never a choice to be a certain way, and it is not a choice, not an option to NOT to be that way.But we hear from parents who don’t understand, from people who do understand but don’t give a crap. They say "just choose something different."  So, today we talk all about free will.Support the show
The threat is growing from anti-transgender legislation that is being introduced and passed in various parts of the country. Many of these bills are targeting transgender youth and are attempting to limit their access to medical care.Beloved, the time is NOW to stand up and speak up in support of our transgender family and friends. Please share this important episode. Support the show
The music at the beginning and the end of every episode is the song "Calm Me Down" by our daughter Hannah, you may know her as Saint Sinner. She is a Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter, an incredible producer, an innovative creator as a DJ artist, and she is an all-around amazing, inspiring human being with a beautiful soul.This is our 100th episode and we want to do something special!We don’t have guests on the show, but we are making an exception for this special episode, and we thought the perfect person would be our daughter Hannah - Saint Sinner.We talk about what it’s like to be our kid, messy church stuff, coming out, her music, and she is going to sing for you!! :-) Support the show
When you deconstruct your faith, sometimes people get afraid that they won’t be able to “find God again” – or Spirit, the Universe, God – however you define that.  Why is that a challenge? Because old false religious beliefs are so deeply ingrained in us, and we were taught to be terrified of anyone on the outside. And to be terrified of our own hearts. So, deconstruction can come loaded with guilt and accusations – all false and based on lies – but it can still impact us.  Can we find God again?  How do we?  What does that even look like now? Let’s talk about that today.Support the show
This is The Deconstruction Zone, where we help those of you who come from a nonaffirming, rules-based Christian past – with all the shame, guilt, wounds and trauma that go with that – deconstruct false religious beliefs. Deconstruct those lies about you, those you love, about God, about life – and reconstruct a spirituality that fits perfectly for you – whatever that looks like.A spirituality that affirms you as you are, for you are, with a message that you are beloved. Period. Sometimes we get asked… "Why can’t the church just be fixed?" This is a question based in sorrow for what has been lost – or maybe a sorrow for the dream and hope that was never realized. Beloved, let’s talk about some deep, core issues, and why the church is broken and can’t fix itself.Support the show
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