On Monday, conservative Rod Dreher wrote about why Millennials were abandoning evangelical Christianity. Someone whose kids walked away from the faith, Dreher said, blamed Donald Trump and the MAGA-ness of so many churches, but Dreher didn’t believe that was the full extent of it.
He posted a letter from a different reader that offered even more suggestions: The lack of orthodoxy or adherence to tradition, a diluted presentation of the Gospel message, the constant persecution rhetoric even when it’s obviously exaggerated, the inability to care about any issue other than abortion, anything sex-related, etc.
A lot of those make sense to me. Some of those strike me as grasping for straws, as if trying to make church more appealing to younger people backfired and drove them away when a more conservative approach (i.e. Boring church) would’ve kept them in the fold.
In any case, it led blogger Chrissy Stroop to ask people to share their own reasons for walking away from conservative Christianity using the hashtag #ILeftBecause:
Hey all, why don’t you share your stories of why you left evangelicalism or any form of conservative Christianity with Rod Dreher, since he’s suddenly interested in the topic. Maybe we could hashtag it #ILeftBecause? https://t.co/Ea8nP3NeXN
— Chrissy is Antifa and You Can Too (@C_Stroop) November 17, 2020
The responses are worth a read. Here are just a few of them:
#ILeftBecause I was a freshman at a Wisc Synod Luth college. They tried to teach me the world was 6K years old. When I wrote a paper about the absurdity of this, the Dean politely decided we were not a good match. I never looked back. This was in 1963. It has only gotten worse. https://t.co/rxZzDilFYz
— ❄️ Bette Burns ❄️ (@bettb) November 17, 2020
— Skylar Camp (@SkylarEllenC) November 17, 2020
Nearly 31 years ago, #ILeftBecause I was 16 years old, my boyfriend had raped me, and all the dogma of church and home branded me a “Jezebel” who deserved it. I knew in my heart that I wasn’t going to live that way. It was a form of abuse. I’d already had a foot out the door. https://t.co/M13F9aiXSg
— Boomtown Cat �� (@spikybluealien) November 17, 2020
#ILeftBecause for more reasons than I can fit in a tweet, but essentially:
1. Rampant misogyny/anti-choice
5. None of it is true! https://t.co/Pi2pptNVvQ
— Jill Blake (@biscuitkitten) November 17, 2020
I left it because it is spiritually toxic, intellectually bankrupt, abusive, authoritarian, and based on an absurdity (the inerrancy of scripture). It's also hyper-nationalist, war mongering, racist, sexist, misogynistic, and props up oppressive systems. #ILeftBecause https://t.co/3qtzTGsrnn
— Dillon Naber Cruz : Antifa Theologian (@CruzControl72) November 17, 2020
#ILeftBecause I watched my mom preach love and kindness, then turn around and be the worst person imaginable
Then she would ask for forgiveness. It was completely illogical to me but I still tried to be 'good'
But really it was all the god-fearing men that raped and abused me https://t.co/PZXIbc22Sg
— serenity (@serenitytoyz) November 17, 2020
Raised ultraconservative Catholic, #ILeftBecause I was expected to forgive my abusers, but my abusers were never expected to stop. Toxic ideas about masculinity encouraged their behavior. Purity culture blamed young girls, boys, and women for men's bad behavior. /1
— A Random Scientist with #GeorgiaOnMyMind (@Random_Neuro123) November 17, 2020
#ILeftBecause my youth pastor sexually assaulted me under a guise of “dating” me. And a million other reasons, but that’s what started it.
— Shannonspeaks (@Shannonchats) November 17, 2020
#ILeftBecause first and foremost, despite what everyone was telling me, I no longer felt wanted. The elitist, holier-than-thou attitudes of those who were supposed to be leaders and mentors, to put it simply, made me feel like shit. I've written a few poems about it, down below. https://t.co/M3w8L9Q8pF
— Merlyn Alira (he/they) (@stuffwithbits) November 17, 2020
#ILeftBecause I was tired of hating myself for being human.
— Christian Nightmares (@ChristnNitemare) November 17, 2020
#ILeftBecause of the gross hyper-sexualization of young people by church elders (aka purity culture) and the blatant Republican Party political agenda preached from the pulpit among MANY other major issues.
— The_Metamorphasis (@The_Metamorphs) November 17, 2020
There are, unfortunately, many more stories where those came from. Feel free to add your own.
Whenever pastors try explaining why young people walk away from church, they often blame the bad eggs. The pastors who water down the Bible or commit moral failures. They rarely recognize the lies or the (spiritual, mental, physical) abuse because those things are baked right into the system.