Saturday, May 4, 2024

The Exvangelicals by Sarah McCammon Book Review

About the Book:

The first definitive book that names the growing social movement of people leaving the church: the exvangelicals.

Growing up in a deeply evangelical family in the Midwest in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Sarah McCammon was strictly taught to fear God, obey him, and not question the faith. Persistently worried that her gay grandfather would go to hell unless she could reach him, or that her Muslim friend would need to be converted, and that she, too, would go to hell if she did not believe fervently enough, McCammon was a rule-follower and—most of the time—a true believer. But through it all, she was increasingly plagued by fears and deep questions as the belief system she'd been carefully taught clashed with her expanding understanding of the outside world.

After spending her early adult life striving to make sense of an unraveling worldview, by her 30s, she found herself face-to-face with it once again as she covered the Trump campaign for NPR, where she witnessed first-hand the power and influence that evangelical Christian beliefs held on the political right.

Sarah also came to discover that she was not alone: she is among a rising generation of the children of evangelicalism who are growing up and fleeing the fold, who are thinking for themselves and deconstructing what feel like the “alternative facts” of their childhood.

Rigorously reported and deeply personal, The Exvangelicals is the story of the people who make up this generational tipping point, including Sarah herself. Part memoir, part investigative journalism, this is the first definitive book that names and describes the post-evangelical movement: identifying its origins, telling the stories of its members, and examining its vast cultural, social, and political impact.

My Review:

We know the statistics. Young people (and others) are leaving the evangelical church. Some are leaving the faith altogether while others are deconstructing and then rebuilding their faith to a state they feel is more authentic to the example of Jesus.

McCammon shares her own experiences as she helps readers understand the history behind the current atmosphere of the evangelical church. Many were taught to disbelieve science, for example. Kids raised in a closed environment of evangelical fervor are now facing confusions and disillusionment. She also shares stories of others who have had similar experiences, troubled by evangelical actions, whether in the area of modern politics or other social aspects of the culture.

Much has been written on the shrinking evangelical church. While this book does not provide any shocking new insights, it is a good book for Christians to read to understand the historical harm done in the name of Christianity, alienating many people.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author:

Sarah McCammon is a National Political Correspondent for NPR and cohost of The NPR Politics Podcast. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including the intersections of politics and religion, reproductive rights, and the conservative movement. She is also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines and has appeared on the BBC, CNN, PBS, and MSNBC. During the 2016 election cycle, Sarah was NPR’s lead political reporter assigned to the Donald Trump campaign and previously reported for NPR Member stations in Georgia, Iowa, and Nebraska. She lives in Norfolk, Virginia with her husband and two children. Photo credit: Kara Frame

St. Martin's Press, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.) 

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