S02E15: Religious trauma is trauma, with Andrew Pledger

Religious trauma is trauma, with Andrew Pledger

Hello and Welcome to This Little Light Of Mine, my name is James Powell and I’m really glad that you are able to join me for today’s interview episode.
On today’s episode I’m joined with art photographer Andrew Pledger who is on his own journey of healing from religious trauma. As an art photographer, Andrew uses his art as a medium to express his own thoughts, ideas, and emotions. Andrew’s strong drive to make art is a way for him to express some of the dark energy, that he is recently learned, has been trapped inside of him for most of his life.
S02E15 Religious trauma is trauma cover
Earlier this year, Andrew submitted a photo series entitled, Religious Trauma is Trauma, as his senior year project at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. This photo series gave Andrew a unique opportunity to explore some of the many ways that religious trauma has impacted his life, to share the emotional states that he lived through growing up, and to express his own personal evolution towards leaving fundamentalism behind.
Several days after releasing his senior project, Andrew appeared on a IG Live interview with author and former Purity pastor Josh Harris to discuss and share some of the healing he found while creating his photo series, Religious Trauma is Trauma.
Andrew reached out to me shortly after his interview with Josh Harris and shared that because of that interview he was fired from his campus job and expelled from Bob Jones University just months before he was set to graduate.

Content/trigger warning 

Before we jump into today’s interview I want to share a trigger warning. Andrew has recently begun his healing journey and some of our conversation touches on his very real challenges with religious trauma, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. If you are struggling with any of these issues please reach out to The Trevor Project in America or to Kids Help Phone in Canada. Skilled people who care about you are available 24/7/365.
And with that, let’s start our conversation with Andrew Pledger.
I want start with a huge thank you to Andrew for his extreme courage in sharing some of the very vulnerable parts of his healing journey from the impacts of religious trauma.
I applaud Andrew for his shame free approach to talking about some of the painful experiences he has lived through. I loved how Andrew shared that when he finally realized that many of his “problems” stemmed from religious trauma he was finally able to start searching for a solution. Andrew learned that HE wasn’t the problem, it was what was done TO HIM that was the problem. Andrew discovered that religious trauma IS trauma.
As Andrew started to educate himself about religious trauma he was able to stop gaslighting himself, create some distance from his pain and psychological torment, and start to reach out to find the community and connection that he has always needed. The community and connection that we all need.

Resources shared in this episode:

I’m also thankful for the resources, love, compassion, and care from places like The Trevor Project in the US and Kids Help Phone in Canada that are available 24/7/365 so that humans like Andrew have someone to help them go inside to find even the smallest glimmer of hope.
I personally believe that these organizations are doing the real work that Jesus commanded from all of us. It’s shameful that these organizations need to exist to help protect humans from some of the harmful and toxic ramifications that individuals like Andrew have been forced to live through by individuals and institutions who hide their abuse under the “name of god”.

Religious trauma does not come from God

Religious trauma is 100% manmade. We need to name this manmade hate for what it is. Religious trauma is psychological, mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse.
As you listened to Andrew what came up for you? What are your thoughts on religious trauma? Have you ever done any research into that topic? Like Andrew, I remember something shifting inside of me the first time I saw the term ‘religious trauma’. A lightbulb went off and I was finally able to clear away years of gaslighting to clearly see the abuse I was living through.
Have you been taught that it’s wrong to doubt? What about questioning authority? What’s parts of you are you repressing or hiding in a closet? What questions have you been holding back so that you don’t rock any boats?
Perhaps now is a time where you can be courageous in your own life? Perhaps now is a time where you can get a little messy?
As you journey forward, take some of Andrew’s advice along with you. Be your own hero. Have love for yourself as you journey towards healing and finding who you were created to be.
It’s absolutely okay to take it slow and know that the journey is different for everyone. My journey isn’t your journey and Andrew’s journey won’t be your journey.
You discover your own unique journey when you go INSIDE and listen to God. God does not require any intermediary. Your unique direction from God is only found inside of you. And when you start to listen to that direction, that’s where you start being your own hero.
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