Author Slams Christians for Not Condemning Those Who “Make Our World More Evil” October 14, 2019

Author Slams Christians for Not Condemning Those Who “Make Our World More Evil”

This is a guest post by Chrissy Stroop.

The #EmptyThePews hashtag is having a new moment in light of America’s white evangelicals continuing to support Donald Trump, even as he betrays our Kurdish allies. Evangelicals doing nothing but a little finger-wagging over Trump abandoning the vulnerable Kurds to the genocidal ambitions of Turkey’s de facto dictator, a man whose “leadership style” Trump obviously admires, seems to have been the last straw for a number of people who are tweeting about leaving their churches or religion altogether.

Surprisingly, prominent journalist and author Kurt Eichenwald, who has spent much of the last several years attempting to defend Christianity from evangelical hypocrisy and ignorance, announced to his nearly 466,000 Twitter followers over the weekend that he “will never have a connection to the Church again.”

“’Fuck humanity, let’s hate gays!’ is not a religion I want any affiliation with,” Eichenwald added, referencing “the slaughter of families, including children” as one of his concerns in the three-tweet thread.

Eichenwald’s announcement did not include the hashtag #EmptyThePews, but it is very much in the spirit of what I wrote in August of 2017. At that time, I called on people to vocally leave Trumpist churches in protest, or to tweet about why they’d already left toxic Christianity, following Trump’s “very fine people” remarks about Charlottesville and evangelical leaders either remaining silent or loudly proclaiming “there is not a racist bone” in Trump’s body.

Yesterday, in light of Eichenwald’s announcement, I renewed my call for #EmptyThePews stories, with roughly 1,000 new tweets using the hashtag having appeared at the time of this writing.

Why #EmptyThePews? As I initially said in 2017, “Losing members is about the only thing that will get evangelicals’ attention.” It’s a reminder that the Christian Right is extremely out of step with what most Americans want and that we won’t tolerate their heavy-handed wielding of the disproportionate power they hold forever.

But the idea behind the protest is also bigger than that. People who leave toxic religion are often traumatized. They feel isolated and are scared to speak out. I know both because I’ve been there — and I’m still unpacking the trauma — and because, as someone who’s worked to build ex-evangelical and wider ex-fundamentalist community over the last few years, I have communicated with many others whose experiences were similar. Further, when people leave what sociologists call a high-demand religion, they are often subjected to gaslighting from those who are still in the fold. Authoritarian churches seek to control the stories of leavers.

With that in mind, #EmptyThePews is as much about reclaiming our stories from those who would use them as object lessons as it is about putting them on notice. By collectively speaking out against the evils of right-wing Christianity, we are empowered, and we empower others to do the same and to work for positive social change, whether they do so within healthier religion or no religion at all.

Many of us are doing so now on social media, and my friend Lauren O’Neal and I are also co-editors of an anthology of personal essays by former conservative Christians, coming out on December 1, called Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church. With it we hope to capture the essence of our generational shift toward a more secular America and to encourage others growing up in hardline religion. If you have your own #EmptyThePews story, please share it in any way you can!

All of you who have shared already have my gratitude.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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