New Essay at Religion Dispatches
On the historical antecedents to today's #exvangelical.
Over at Religion Dispatches, I wrote about David Jeremiah’s June 2021 sermon decrying “deconstruction” and “the falling away.” Here’s an excerpt:
But for all his prophecy, David Jeremiah failed to notice this decades-long “falling away.” It’s only within the last few years that, through the constellation of related hashtags like #exvangelical, #churchtoo, #faithfullyLGBT, #EmptyThePews, #LeaveLOUD and others, these experiences have become indexable, searchable, and shareable. The successful election of Donald Trump due to overwhelming white evangelical support is only the most recent in a long line of catalysts for vast swaths of people to leave their evangelical churches.
In fact, former evangelicals have long left their churches for other traditions or to no tradition at all. What’s novel about this moment is that, with new media, those who question the spoken and unspoken orthodoxies of white evangelical churches now have an avenue to explore those doubts in relative safety. Through hashtags, podcasts, YouTube series, Instagram posts, and TikTok, today’s exvangelicals of all stripes are connecting in visible ways, forging communities of all kinds and openly critiquing the worldview they inherited.
It’s incumbent upon today’s exvangelicals to recognize that many others before us have been wrestling with the legacy of white evangelicalism—and they’ve been doing it for decades. We have our own “cloud of witnesses,” so to speak: Marlene Winnell published Leaving the Fold in 1993, Mark Noll published The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind in 1995, Brian McLaren published A New Kind of Christian in 2001, Tyler Connoley & Jeff Miner published The Children Are Free in 2002, Julie Ingersoll published Evangelical Christian Women: War Stories in the Gender Battles in 2003, and Diana Butler Bass published her memoir Strength for the Journey in 2004.