Show cover of FreedHearts


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!


Kids ARE Being Groomed, but Not How You've Been Told
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
16:30 9/27/23
Declutter Your Home, Declutter Your Beliefs!
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
33:15 9/20/23
"Well, why can't I marry my dog??" Let's talk consent!
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
18:56 9/13/23
Is Being WOKE Really a Bad Thing?
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
21:05 9/6/23
10 Religious Rules that Every Person Should Break!
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
37:01 8/2/23
Are We Afraid of a Pretend God?
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
20:59 7/26/23
10 Sneaky Things Christians Say About LGBTQ+ (and What They Really Mean!)
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
19:20 7/19/23
The Truth That REALLY Sets Us Free!
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
25:25 7/12/23
Answers to 4 Scary Questions That Non-Affirming Christians Ask
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
21:28 7/5/23
Are We Just Taking the Easy Way Out?
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
23:55 6/28/23
Getting the Harmful Religious Crap Out of Our Heads
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
29:08 6/21/23
Yeah, I'm All Good... Save Your Own Heart!
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
18:35 6/7/23
Just How Sick Has Toxic Religion Made Us?
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
33:06 5/31/23
Did the Devil Really Make Me Do It??
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
28:56 5/24/23
A Parent's Desire to Change Their Children
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
19:23 5/17/23
If We Have Free Will, Can't We Choose NOT To Be Gay??
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
25:27 5/10/23
Why Supporting the Trans Community is So Important!
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
21:59 5/3/23
100th Episode: Our Daughter-Saint Sinner-LIVE!
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
47:57 4/12/23
Can We "Find God Again" After Deconstructing?
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
25:31 4/5/23
The Church is Broken and Can't Fix Itself
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
21:24 3/29/23
8 Ways the Pop-Christian Gospel Damages Children
We hear the hate coming from the nonaffirming church about things like drag queen storytimes, transgender bathroom laws, and more…  all disguised in the “we care about the children” lie! Disgusting and indefensible.  Just to be clear – it has NOTHING to do with children. Kids are being used in a transparent attempt to hide hate and bigotry.  Period. So, what are the REAL threats to children?  What does real damage to kids? The pop-Christian gospel. Today, we give you 8 ways that the pop-Christian gospel damages children.Support the show
29:31 3/22/23
A Parent's Crushing Regret
One of our most popular YouTube videos is called: A Pastor Looks Up in Tears.  It is about a non-affirming pastor who is shocked at what he discovers about God, others, and himself when he gets to what the Bible calls Heaven.  We have connected with tens of thousands of parents who have been pressured, and sometimes convinced by their church to reject their LGBTQ+ child… to condemn and shame them, to kick them out of the house, disown them. So, we want to do a version of that video here on the podcast – for parents, instead of a pastor.  What happens when parents who have not fully accepted and affirmed their LGBTQ+ child come face-to-face with God?Support the show
15:22 3/15/23
God is Not Mad at You and Never Has Been!
It breaks our hearts when people talk negatively about themselves. Most of the time, this is based on a belief that, at our core, we are probably a disappointment to God, that God is mad at us. We have talked about how the message of Jesus has been distorted and replaced with these false lies that you are broken, that you need saved. That is NOT from Jesus or God and we call bullshit! For us to understand how truly loved, how absolutely beloved we are, can change everything! Support the show
25:21 3/8/23
Jesus is the Biggest Threat to Christianity!
Every day, we see the pain and betrayal inflicted in people’s lives from the rules-based, non-affirming Christian church. The devastating suffering of those who have been destroyed by their family and church rejecting them, condemning them—leading to depression, homelessness, substance abuse, and stunningly high suicide rates.Sickening. Indefensible. And you know what, it's absolutely NOTHING like the Jesus these people claim to follow.Here’s the truth… Jesus is the biggest threat to Christianity!Support the show
24:50 3/1/23
An Open Letter to Family Who Reject Me.
So many of you listening have been on the receiving end of faith-based family rejection.  Maybe because you are part of the LGBTQ+ community – maybe because you support and affirm someone who is – or maybe just because you are deconstructing from false religious beliefs.  The truth is that this rejection has nothing to do with you and speaks volumes about the people treating you this way. Today, we share with you a powerful, moving letter written by someone to all the family members who rejected them. Support the show
16:25 2/22/23
He, She, They Talk All About Pronouns!
We have a brand-new grandbaby—and are so happy--and thought this was a great opportunity to talk about pronouns.  We all will use they/them pronouns for our grandchild until they let us know something else.  It will be very natural and normal to be raised in a gender inclusive environment. Honestly, it really is unnatural NOT to be – but that is a result of binary thinking that has ingrained itself into society.  Let’s talk about all of that today. Support the show
29:29 2/15/23
A Drag Queen Preacher!? Oh yes! :)
Drag queens seem to be in the news with Drag Queen Storytimes! You hear people promoting false fear and lies about kids in danger. But you also hear other people pointing out how kids are likely safer with a drag queen than with many religious leaders! Yeah, truth.Today we are going to talk about someone very special. Someone whose life and impact challenge many in the church, and reach a growing number of outliers and outcasts. We are going to introduce you to The Drag Queen Preacher: Ms. Penny Cost. You are going to fall in love! And maybe you'll be inspired that YOU are indeed the perfect person to share whatever message is on your heart.
12:49 2/8/23
The Word 'Homosexual' Was NEVER in the Bible!
Today, we are going to talk about one word… “homosexual.”  And how it was never in the Bible. Nope, NEVER!A handful of verses in the Bible have been falsely taught and used to propagate modern homophobia and transphobia. But, guess what?  The words homosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender were never actually in the Bible!That all changed in 1946 when an American Bible company mistranslated two ancient Greek words. And this mistake became the foundation of the anti-LGBTQ+ culture that still exists today!Support the show
19:58 2/1/23
Where Does Feeling Miserable Come From?
Beloved, are you tired of feeling miserable?Where does misery even come from? What leads to it? The answer may surprise you!Let’s talk about that, so we can do something about it.  Because, Beloved, you deserve to be happy, content, joyful and loved. Support the show
22:44 1/25/23
Church, what the hell did you expect me to do?
We deconstruct dangerous religious beliefs and false teachings that steal your life, and steal your joy. In this episode, we  look at how different the reality of the actions and core beliefs of the non-affirming, behavior-focused, rules-based part of the Christian church is from what we heard from them – from what they told us Jesus wanted us to do.We listened, we heard, we did what they said and look what happened?? They turned on us.  Support the show
27:35 1/18/23