Our 2022 Conference
LIVE IN Portland, OR!
July 15 - 17, 2022

The Conference will be recorded, so if you can't attend live, no worries!
You can register for the "recording only" ticket

A weekend of shared wisdom, fearless exploration and community support
for unpacking toxic religious beliefs that can be harmful when facing loss and grief.

2022 Conference Presenters and Programs
Speakers and Schedules are Subject to Change Without Notice





Loss and the Quest for Meaning:
From Complicated Spiritual Grief
to Personal Reconstruction

with Robert Neimeyer PhD and Carolyn Ng PsyD





Seth Andrews SQUARE

Seth Andrews



Seth is a former Christian broadcaster and believer of 30 years, who escaped the bonds of fundamentalistism to become one of the leading voices for atheism and free thought. His podcast The Thinking Atheist, is one of the most popular atheist communities on the internet, offering a relaxed environment and a rage-free challenge to the religious beliefs that defined his youth. Read More >

Ever wonder what would happen if we examined many of the "normal" rituals and practices of mainstream Christianity with a different lens? How would these rituals seem in the context of Islam, or Hinduism, or even Satanism? Join Seth Andrews for a compelling romp through some creepy (and even culty) Christian faith traditions that are often bizarre, nonsensical, and even downright horrifying. You've probably never seen Christianity quite like this.

Andrews was born into a Christian family and When his public-school education conflicted with the religious teachings he had received at home, his parents transferred him to the small, church-owned Temple Christian School, and later to the Eastwood Baptist School. As a student leader, he eagerly participated in school functions and religious activities, including  the local branch of Youth for Christ, for which he was a spokesman.

Firmy rooted in his faith, Andrews hosted a show on Christian radio from 1990 to 2000. But  the tragic 1997 death of Christian songwriter Rich Mullins triggered Andrews' doubts about  Christian doctrine. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 also played a role in strengthening Andrews' doubts about religion. In 2004, Andrews watched a video of atheist Christopher Hitchens debating Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, which made him finally decide to leave his faith. In 2008, he finally told his family and friends he was an atheist. 

Finding no community of other atheists in his area, he decided to build an atheist community online. He created a website and Facebook page, both called The Thinking Atheist, to connect with other non-believers online.

Andrews is also the host of The Thinking Atheist weekly podcast, which aims to challenge stereotypes that depict atheists as angry, or religious people as stupid. His recorded talk at the conference will be based on hew new book,  Confessions of a Former Fox News Christian.

Zoom link: 


Frank and Dan

Frank Feldman
and Dan Beecher


Hailed as a "breath of fresh air" by its listeners, the Thank God I'm Atheist podcast tackles the issues of the day and recasts them in an Atheist light. "Funny and informative," Frank and Dan are two former Mormons offering up their perspective on politics, current events, and all things religious or otherwise.  Read More>


Zoom link: 

Seth, Frank and Dan will be the guests of honor at our Saturday Night After-Party!
Click HERE for details!


There are six CE credit hours available for the live sessions on Saturday.
Please see our Continuing Education page for details.
expert in toxic religious beliefs

Terri Daniel, DMin, CT

Ritual Without Religion:
Invoking the Sacred in Secular Space
How can we create meaningful rituals that push the boundaries of classical roles and traditions, and revitalize stale old practices which have lost their meaning? Creative personal and ceremonies provide tools for healing, transition and celebration, and  create a new narrative... without doctrine or dogma. CE TRACK Read More >

Dr. Terri Daniel is an interfaith  hospice chaplain, end-of-life educator, and grief counselor certified in death, dying and bereavement by the Association of Death Education and Counseling and in trauma support by the International Association of Trauma Professionals. She conducts workshops throughout the U.S. and teaches at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Terri  is also the founder of The Conference on Death, Grief and Belief,  and the Ask Doctor Death podcast. She is also the author of four books on death, grief and the afterlife.

Terri has a BA in Religious Studies from Marylhurst University, an MA in Pastoral Care from Fordham University, and a Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Care and Counseling from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.


Please click HERE for a list of the various workshop and lecture topics Terri offers.


Clint Heacock, PhD

Leaving Religion: A Step-by-Step Guide
In Pew Research Center surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults described themselves as Christians, down 12 points over the past decade. Similarly, the number of people who identify as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” has increased by 9% since 2009.  Dr. Heacock will share a practical roadmap for your deconstruction journey.  Read More >

Dr. Clint Heacock is a former evangelical pastor and bible college teacher. He holds a PhD in preaching and biblical studies from the University of Chester in the UK. Although he grew up in a fundamentalist Christian environment, he has since deconstructed his former faith and walked away from Christianity altogether. Since leaving evangelicalism he has been the host of The MindShift Podcast. The aim of the show is to educate people on the dangers of the Christian Right, dominion theology, destructive cults, and religious trauma syndrome--and help reconstruct their lives, post-religion.

VIRTUAL VISITING HOURS (Pacific time zone)
Zoom link:  328 861 1370
Friday 10 am -12 noon 
Saturday 9 am - 11 am
Sunday 9 - 11 am

Brian square

Brian Smith

When God Doesn't Help
If religion is supposed to offer solace to the bereaved, what happens when it does exactly the opposite?  Religious doctrines can not only contradict themselves, they can cause more pain and anxiety when the easy answers we were taught in Sunday school no longer suffice. Read More >

How does a religious person cope with the idea that their non-believing loved ones are doomed to an eternity in hell? How does a parent who's lost a child reconcile the cognitive dissonance of a "loving god" who would take someone in the prime of their life? 

Brian D. Smith is a grief guide, life coach, and small business consultant. His mission is to help people rediscover who they are and why they are here. Brian believes in those two questions lie the secrets to not only surviving this life but thriving. He is the host of the Grief 2 Growth podcast and the author of Grief 2 Growth- How to Survive and Thrive After Life’s Greatest Challenges.

Zoom link: 


Joshua Bowen, PhD

Conceptions of the Afterlife in the Ancient Near East and the Hebrew Bible 
Understanding ancient concepts of “life after death,” enables us to place our modern ideas into a broader historical framework, allowing us to think critically about how we arrived at these concepts today. How did societies in the ancient Near East – specifically Mesopotamia and Israel (modern day Iraq and Palestine) – imagine their existence after death?
Read More >

This talk will provide a general overview of conceptions of the afterlife in ancient Mesopotamia and Israel by focusing on the details that we can glean from the writings they left behind. What happened to an individual upon death? Were there different levels of existence for the deceased? Was there any development in these concepts over the millennia? How did the ancient Mesopotamian concepts of death and the afterlife affect the beliefs of ancient Israel? 

Dr. Joshua Bowen graduated from the Johns Hopkins University in 2017 with a Ph.D. in Assyriology and a minor in Hebrew Bible. He wrote his dissertation on the lamentational liturgies of the city of Kiš, and specializes in the Sumerian, Akkadian, and Hebrew languages. Joshua is a Fulbright Scholar, and was also awarded the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (D.A.A.D.) during the 2014-2015 academic year, allowing him to spend the year in Tubingen, Germany, working with Dr. Konrad Volk on his dissertation project.

As well as his Ph.D., Josh holds a B.S. in Religion from Liberty University, a Th.M. in the Old Testament from Capital Bible Seminary, and a M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from the Johns Hopkins University. He has published four books, including the best-selling The Atheist Handbook to the Old Testament, Volume I, Did the Old Testament Endorse Slavery?, Learning to Pray in a Dead Language, and Learn to Read Ancient Sumerian: An Introduction for Complete Beginners (co-authored with his wife, Megan Lewis). He also has two books forthcoming (2022): The Atheist Handbook to the Old Testament, Volume II, and Learn to Read Ancient Sumerian, Volume II.

Zoom link: 

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David Steinhorn MD

Children and Loss: Practicing Medical Mindfulness  - Dr. Steinhorn will discuss helping parents of critically ill children make end-of-life decisions from a place of greater mindfulness and inner strength rather than reliance on unhelpful religious structures. He has developed a unique approach to guiding individuals from their heads to their hearts to discover meaning and answers to their life or death decisions. ONE CE CREDIT HOUR - Read More >

Dr. David Steinhorn has worked in pediatric ICUs for 35 years dealing with children facing death and supporting their families in the journey towards loss for those patients who do not survive.  He has also developed hospice services for children in major teaching hospitals and worked with adult and pediatric patients facing death and loss.  

VIRTUAL VISITING HOURS (Pacific Time zone): 

Zoom link:  https://us06web.zoom.us/j/3288611370
Friday 10 am -12 noon
Saturday 9 am - 11 am
Sunday 9 - 11 am 

expert in toxic religious beliefs

Andrew Jasko, MDiv

Spirituality After Religion: Mysticism Without Superstition or Dogma
Many religions claim to provide mystical union, but they fail to deliver anything more than emotionalism, hype, and manipulation. Mainstream Western secular philosophy -- and many in science who embrace it -- have  reacted to religious abuses by dismissing or avoiding non-ordinary and expanded states of consciousness and their implications for healing and human potential.  ONE CE CREDIT HOUR - Read More >

This is beginning to change as scientists, Eastern mystics, shamans, and healers are coming together to research and apply the healing and transformational benefits of mystical experiences and to explore their implications for the nature of reality. In this talk, we will examine how to explore mystical spirituality and stay grounded in rationality.

As a former Princeton Seminary educated minister, Andrew had to leave his religious faith and community because of the severe psychological trauma he experienced. After spending years researching religious trauma and helping his counseling clients transform their lives and regain a healthy, authentic connection with spirituality that suits them, he is now considered an expert in healing religious trauma, and an acclaimed speaker, writer, and coach in the field of religious trauma and the integration of psychology and spirituality. Andrew is the founder of Life After Dogma and his writings and talks can be found a www.lifeafterdogma.org

Zoom link: 


Sonya Lott, PhD

When Religious Beliefs Complicate
the Grief Process
For some grievers, religion can offer comfort and meaning, but for others, toxic religious beliefs have a negative impact on the grief process. Psychologist and grief specialist Dr. Sonya Lott will discuss the ways in which religious beliefs can complicate the grief process and /or lead to a “spiritual crisis,” and will offer guidance on how to manage these challenges. Read More >

Dr. Lott has been licensed as a psychologist in Pennsylvania since 1991. Since 2020, she has been licensed to provide telepsychology in more than 20 states through the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board’s (ASPPB) PSYPACT program. With advanced training in Complicated Grief Therapy (CGT) from Columbia University, she maintains a private practice specializing in traumatic and complicated/prolonged grief. As a grief specialist, she has been a guest on many national podcasts and featured in many print articles including the Washington Post. In addition to her clinical work, she is also the founder of CEMPSYCH, LLC, which offers continuing education in multicultural psychology to licensed mental health professionals.

Zoom link: 


Gregory Shushan, PhD

Near-Death Experiences and Afterlife Beliefs Across Cultures

Do worldwide afterlife beliefs originate in near-death experiences?  Dr. Gregory Shushan explores NDE accounts across cultures and throughout history.  While they share common elements, the content of these experiences varies widely - and so does a culture’s way of responding to them and integrating them into their belief systems.  Read More >

Dr. Shushan is the leading authority on near-death experiences and the afterlife across cultures and throughout history.  Currently Visiting Fellow at University of Winchester, and Research Fellow at the Parapsychology Foundation, Dr. Shushan was previously Honorary Research Fellow at the Religious Experience Research Centre at University of Wales, Perrott-Warrick Researcher at University of Oxford's Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, and Scholar-in Residence at the Centro Incontri Umani (The Cross Cultural Centre), Ascona, Switzerland. He has lectured at universities in the UK, Ireland, and Switzerland and has given numerous talks on his research in nine countries. 

Zoom link: 


Peter Panagore, MDiv

A Doctrine-Free Afterlife 
Rev. Peter Panagore has been pronouced dead twice; once after freezing to death while ice climbing, and again, years later, after a heart attack.  Both times he returned with memories of a detailed out-of-body journey. Peter now hosts Not Church: Mysticism. No Doctrine. No Dogma on his YouTube Channel, where he deconstructs The Bible in light of his near-death experiences. Read More >

A graduate of Yale Divinity School with a focus on western mysticism, Peter is a two-time Near-death Experiencer and International Audible Best-Selling Author of Heaven Is Beautiful: How Dying Taught Me That Death Is Just the Beginning, His first best-seller, Two Minutes for God: Quick Fixes for the Spirit, is drawn from among the seventeen hundred inspirational stories of hope he wrote and told on his daily two-minute TV/FM spot for 15 years, broadcast on two NBC-TV stations in New England reaching thirty million views each year. His Yale master’s degree focused on The Classics of Western Mysticism, and he holds a BA is in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts.

Zoom link: 


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Pesach Eisen, MCH-LP

Grief in Orthodox Judaism:
A Double-Edged Sword
Though grief is mostly associated with the death of a loved one, it  also shows up in other contexts, such as the loss of a relationship or job, the shift to a new developmental stage, or any major life transition. In Orthodox Judaism, mourning follows specific customs, rules, restrictions, rituals, and timelines, with little or no emphasis on one's unique grieving process.  Read More >

In this presentation, Pesach will explore both the benefits and potential harms of an almost-exclusively externally-dictated grief paradigm, as well as implications for folks who have left Orthodox Judaism and are in the process of redefining their relationship with death, grief, and belief.

Pesach is a psychotherapist and researcher focusing primarily on the intersection of religious disaffiliation and mental health. He was raised in an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish faith community, from which he departed during his 20s. In his current role at Footsteps, he offers individual and group psychotherapy to those who have left or are contemplating leaving Orthodox Jewish communities. Both personally and professionally, he has wrestled with themes such as dignity, faith, humanity, identity, loss, meaning, morality, mortality, religion, spirituality, trauma, values, death, grief, and belief. Pesach holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and neuroscience, as well as a Master of Arts degree in mental health counseling. 

Zoom link: 

expert in toxic religious beliefs

Janice Selbie, RPC

My Journey from Fundamentalism
to Freedom
Janice was raised in an evangelical Christian home where she heard her father speak in tongues, and was anointed with oil for healing. Her personal development was severely restricted, and she married an equally-religious partner, continuing to live in the cult-like community --  wearing head coverings and traditionally "modest" clothing --  until it was no longer tolerable. Read More > 

Now a bisexual atheist rock musician and licensed therapist who assists other to heal from religious trauma, Janice shares her journey from head covering to head banging.

She is a Registered Professional Counsellor (RPC) and Religious Recovery Consultant in British Columbia, Canada. Her personal experience leaving both religious fundamentalism and ending a two-decade marriage motivated her to return to school.

After attaining her RPC designation, she founded the Divorcing Religion Workshop; an on-line, interactive course for those rebuilding their lives post religion. In 2021, Janice hosted the inaugural Conference on Religious Trauma (CORT). In addition to planning CORT 2022, she is a religious recovery consultant working with those recovering from Religious Trauma Syndrome. Find her here: www.Divorcing-Religion.com and on Twitter as @wise_counsellor and @DivorceReligion.

Zoom link: 


Gerette Buglion

The Death of Belief
Based on her experience as a former cult member, Gerette will explore the realm of beliefs – how they are formed, the unconscious factors that sculpt and transform them, and the danger that can go unnoticed when manipulation of belief occurs. It is acceptable to take time to grieve at the loss of a loved one, but how often do people give space for the death of belief? Read More > 

Most people have had bubbles pop, veils lifted, or slow dawning realizations that lead to a psychological shift in orientation. A revered colleague is found to commit fraud. The secret sauce on your grandmother’s famous kugel is just a can of cream of mushroom soup. A child sees a parent placing gifts in a stocking hung for Santa. Such realizations can be disappointing, blips on the radar, or a shedding of an old skin that no longer serves us.

But when our identity has been built upon these beliefs, their death can be just as destabilizing as the death of a partner, parent or child. One can also experience profound liberation when the withering belief had shackled the believer. Wild ping-ponging of grief and relief can occur, but because we generally don’t think about our beliefs in this way, these healthy emotions don’t get processed.  

Gerette Buglion recovered from an 18-year odyssey as a member of a new-age cult. Her work in supporting survivors of religious trauma, cult education and recovery includes consultations with individuals, families, and organizations. She also facilitates Writing to Reckon, an online course for writers who are serious about using the written word to express and integrate confounding beliefs. She is a hospice volunteer, the author of An Everyday Cult, and co-founder of #igotout.org, and is a hospice volunteer. 

Zoom link: 

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David Lukoff, PhD  

Why Psychologists Need to Understand Religious and Spiritual Problems
In theory, research, and practice, mental health professionals have tended to ignore or pathologize the religious and spiritual dimensions of life. This represents a type of cultural insensitivity toward individuals who have religious and spiritual experiences in both Western and non-Western cultures. David will discuss the need for improved training and cultural sensitivity for mental health professionals. Read More >

David Lukoff, PhD is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, a former president of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, and a licensed psychologist in California. He is the author of 80 articles and chapters on spiritual issues and mental health, and is an international workshop presenter training psychologists in spiritual competency, grief, death and illness, spiritual problems and spiritual emergencies. He is also co-author of the DSM-IV and DSM-5 diagnostic category Religious or Spiritual Problem, which increased awareness of spiritual issues in clinical practice. He is co-founder of the Spiritual Competency Academy which offers online training and workshops related to integrating spirituality into mental healthcare services.

Zoom link: 


Jamie Eaddy

Dr. Jamie Eaddy

Trauma & Toxic Theology
in the Black Church 
Time does not heal all wounds, and prayer does not prevent grief. So what happens when we cannot pray the grief away? And how do beliefs like heaven and hell, redemptive suffering, and resilience impact our response to loss?  Dr. Jamie Eaddy Chism will discuss how toxic theologies within the Black Church reinforce trauma and create the kind of faith that functions as a barrier to healthy grieving. Read More > 

Rev. Jamie Eaddy Chism, DMin., CEO of Thoughtful Transitions, is an ordained minister, death doula, and educator who serves as the Director of Program Development at the International End of Life Doula Association. Deeply committed to challenging the societal norms that make death a forbidden topic for so many people, Dr. Chism helps cultivate sacred spaces for exploring our mortality, helping people navigate all kinds of loss, including losing a relationship, identity, normalcy, dreams, hope, etc. 

Providing trauma-informed care, community healing, and dismantling a system that disregards black life, silences black grief, and ignores black death is her life's passion and purpose. Monthly, she explores all things grief and loss through her organization’s webinars, blog, and her  podcast,, Thougtful Transitions w/Dr Jamie:The Loss Navigation Specialist. 

Dr. Chism earned a Doctor of Ministry degree with an emphasis in transformative leadership and Prophetic Preaching from the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and a Master Divinity degree from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. She is a clinically trained chaplain, a certified trauma professional and holds certification in death, dying and bereavement by the Association of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC). 

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Seth, Frank and Dan will be the guests of honor at our Saturday night After-Party!

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