Introducing the Post-Evangelical Post
Covering the social impact of white evangelical Christianity in America.
Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Post-Evangelical Post. I am your author, Blake Chastain.
This newsletter will focus on the impact and influence of white evangelical Christianity in America. As we enter a new decade (and a national election year), white evangelical leaders hold more political and cultural influence than ever before.
The Post-Evangelical Post will focus on stories that shed vital, critical light on this topic.
Evangelicalism can be hard to cover. It is notoriously slippery. Evangelical leaders often use that fact that evangelicalism isn’t monolithic to deflect criticism or distance themselves from problematic figures within the movement. But those tactics deny the widespread and commonly held norms, beliefs, and practices that a person who has lived in evangelical environs can attest to. Further, evangelical leaders are adept at using language when speaking to the broader media that makes them appear more moderate than they actually are; often, the same language has a different meaning in evangelical circles. This isn’t always noticed in mainstream reporting.
To that end, this newsletter will highlight developments within the evangelical sphere, as well as the growing body of work being created by people who have left evangelicalism.
People who have left evangelicalism are central to being able to explain to a broader audience how evangelical churches and organizations function, how evangelical leaders think, and the impact evangelicalism has on their followers and congregants. I know this is true because I am one of those people.
Over the past three years, I’ve hosted the podcast Exvangelical, which focuses on the personal stories of people who have left evangelicalism. The show has garnered coverage in Newsweek, Splinter News, Religion Dispatches, Religion & Politics, ABC Religion & Ethics Report in Australia, and was featured as part of a CBS Religion documentary.
I started the podcast to explore why I and so many of the friends I knew from Christian college had ultimately decided to walk away from evangelicalism. To my surprise, it found an audience, and through social media it spread with the help of the hashtag #exvangelical. That hashtag regularly receives over 100,000 unique impressions on Twitter a day, and the hashtag is also used often on Instagram. I also help administer a Facebook group with thousands of members.
(A quick aside: I consider the term “exvangelical” to be helpful, but do not expect it to be one that fully supplants and replaces something like white evangelicalism. It has no defining theology - and this is a feature, not a bug. I’ve written more about this here.)
Prior to developing the show, I studied evangelical politics in graduate school. Though I did not pursue an academic career, and though I did not consider myself an evangelical personally during those years, I remained drawn toward understanding the faith of origin that had shaped me, and was shaping my country in ways I considered contrary to the gospel.
As I learned while developing the show and the Exvangelical community on Facebook (the latter of which is also developed and overseen by many wonderful moderators and admins), there are many people who feel similarly. Evangelicalism helped form us, and ostensibly taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. And yet, staying within it became untenable. We all left by my various paths, all along the spectrum from being forced out to fading away.
So why a newsletter? Why now?
Which brings us back to why this type of work is important. White evangelicals are at their political zenith, and even as their raw numbers decline, their influence over society still looms large. It is essential that people be able to understand this group, how they operate, and the impact their teachings, practices, and political activities affect individual lives and society-at-large.
This newsletter is a continuation of the work begun in Exvangelical. I fully acknowledge that the term isn’t for everyone, and that it doesn’t encapsulate everyone’s experience or beliefs. The name The Post-Evangelical Post nods to that reality. Also: all my ideas begin as puns.
The Post-Evangelical Post will be a paid publication that is published twice-weekly, on Mondays and Fridays. The Friday edition will be free; Monday editions will be available to paid subscribers. (All current and prior Patreon supporters of Exvangelical will receive the paid newsletter for free, forever.) The subscription will be $7/month or $70/year; this amount was selected because it is the lowest price-point that leads to making this work economically sustainable.
I hope you will enjoy the links, recommendations, and commentary I will provide in this medium. It’s an election year, and coverage of white evangelicals always ticks up around this time. I hope we’ve all learned from 2016. There’s a lot at stake. Exvangelicals and Post-Evangelicals know this.
If you subscribe, you will too.