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Writings about faith, politics, and culture. Nonprofit exec living in Memphis, TN. “That relentless, tall guy.”

New data from Pew and PRRI is deeply alarming

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Most weeks, I hear from readers who share the pain they are experiencing after leaving their evangelical church of many years. I usually read their stories of being abused by an authoritarian leader and gaslighted by fellow congregants and find myself sympathizing. Sometimes hearing yourself share experiences out loud is more freeing than finding an answer right away.

This week’s messages were different though. Several readers sent me the new survey data from Pew Research Center and the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). Both speak directly to some disturbing realities in white evangelical culture. …

1,000+ listeners of my conversation with Kristin Kobes Du Mez

Why does white evangelicalism often feel so controlling, hypocritical, and resistant to change? Why is there so much abuse in white evangelical churches? And how did the people of “family values” fall in line behind Donald Trump in such large numbers?

These are questions I started quietly asking myself in 2016.

By that point, my slow journey out of white American evangelicalism had been underway for years, even though our family still attended a run-of-the-mill white evangelical church. …

The new strand of American evangelicalism that threatens us all

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It’s now been more than six months since the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. As many noted at the time — including me — the excessive presence of evangelical symbols and language among the flags and weapons was shocking, but not surprising.

Those of us who came out of this subculture have watched for years with increasing dismay as “the center” of white American evangelicalism lurched toward fundamentalism and increasingly outlier political positions. In the aftermath of January 6, the term Christian nationalism immediately took on renewed urgency in our political discourse. …

Healthcare professionals threatened with violence as COVID-19 spreads and political extremism worsens

Screenshot from a video of a school board meeting that almost turned violent.

Like many others who live in Tennessee, I woke up this morning to a video of a school board meeting in Franklin, one of the wealthiest and most affluent communities in our state. The video showed a mob that was on the verge of losing control.

Only moments before, school board members and healthcare professionals were discussing the need for mask requirements in local schools. As the meeting progressed, the crowd increasingly interrupted the procedures and ridiculed speakers and some board members. Police arrived and started making those who were losing self-control leave.

The real scare came as the healthcare…

For your love, concern, and hope

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For the past five or six years, I’ve often felt like I was living on an island. Being a follower of Jesus in the American South hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park during this time.

The Trump years and a global pandemic ended up destroying the trust and respect I had for my church. Years ago, our family had put down roots there. We planned on it being our home. What we thought was a moderately conservative vibe felt mostly insulated from the cultural wars found in much of white American evangelicalism. …

The dominant strains of the Republican and white evangelical rage machines are ramping back up, even as millions of Americans remain unvaccinated.

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I normally use this space to dive a bit deeper on faith and cultural issues. Right now though, I’m going to use it to vent a little.

As new public health guidelines are being given and considered regarding the pandemic, I am already seeing a renewed surge of Republicans and white American evangelicals gleefully entering a new culture war over masks.

Am I a terrible person for thinking I can’t do this again?

I am drained. I am exhausted. For the love of God, I am so done with people screaming that this infringes on their rights and that the…

Dispelling a common myth in white American evangelicalism

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One of the more interesting things I’ve discovered in my post-evangelical Christian faith is how anxiety-inducing the term exvangelical can be for others, especially white evangelicals.

I write a lot about the state of the American Church and the central role white evangelicalism plays in the crises plaguing so many faith communities today. These can be tricky topics to navigate because people have different ideas of what evangelicalism is. This leads to honest questions, healthy discussion, and — unfortunately — some criticism that is intellectually dishonest.

More recently though, several white evangelicals have asked me what the word exvangelical even…

How one failed church became the bellwether of white American evangelicalism

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Every now and then, a new book or podcast comes along that is so timely and informative that you just can’t help sharing it with other people. A friend recently recommended Christianity Today’s The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast. Here’s a short summary of the show from host Mike Cosper:

Founded in 1996, Seattle’s Mars Hill Church was poised to be an influential, undeniable force in evangelicalism — that is until its spiraling collapse in 2014. The church and its charismatic founder, Mark Driscoll, had a promising start. …

A lesson learned from the white evangelical meltdown

Photos by Diana Simumpande, Nina Strehl, Matt Botsford, and Hannah Busing.

Back in March, Gallup released polling results that sent shockwaves through American churches. For the first time since 1937 — when Gallup began surveying religious affiliation and church attendance — less than half of the United States belongs to a church of any kind.

And the hits keep coming, especially for white evangelicals. PRRI’s new The 2020 Census of American Religion report shows that white evangelicals have contracted from 23% of Americans in 2006 to just 14% in 2020. That’s a mass bleed out of about 30 million people.

White evangelical churches lose young people every year for a variety…

America feels fundamentally broken, because it is

The U.S. Capitol after the January 6 insurrection. Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash

Last night, I was texting with a friend who moved out to Oregon a few years ago. He remarked how different the culture is and how heightened the political divisions are there. I asked him what he meant. He sent me this article as an example:

I found this story fascinating, but there was one quote in particular that really jumped off the screen at me:

“When you have people who cater to resentment and everything is an existential fight — everything — it really becomes difficult to find common ground and problem-solve. That’s really where we’re at right now.”

Mark Hackett

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