cover image The Exvangelicals: Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church

The Exvangelicals: Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church

Sarah McCammon. St. Martin’s, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-28447-1

NPR political correspondent McCammon debuts with a clear-eyed look at the mass disaffiliation from evangelical churches and culture in recent years. Drawing on her experience growing up in a deeply religious evangelical family in Kansas City, Mo., as well as interviews with former evangelicals, McCammon charts conservative Christianity’s explosion of cultural power in the late 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, as the evangelical movement veered into fundamentalism, aided by seismic cultural shifts and accompanied by a sea of televangelists who preached a prosperity gospel. In more recent years, evangelical support for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and intolerance for other groups have caused growing numbers of believers to break off into a group of “exvangelicals”—loosely defined here as millennials and Gen Zers raised in white evangelical Christianity who are now “trying to make sense” of a more interconnected world, and “who they are in it.” Chapters cover the evangelical movement’s flash points, including its failures at racial reconciliation; rejection of the LGBTQ community (including the author’s grandfather, who came out as gay as a widower); and strict parenting advice that included corporal punishment. McCammon carefully dissects the lasting emotional impacts on those who’ve left the church and the role of social media in helping former evangelicals to deconstruct their prior beliefs. It amounts to a lucid picture of life inside the evangelical community and the complicated choice to leave. Agent: Margaret Riley King, WME. (Mar.)

Correction: A previous version of this review misidentified the state where the author grew up.