Jun 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

First look: An evangelical exposé by Tim Alberta coming in December

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Cover: Harper

The Atlantic's Tim Alberta — fresh off his epic takedown of former CNN CEO Chris Licht — will be out Dec. 5 with a deeply personal, rigorously reported portrait of American Christianity in self-inflicted decline.

Why it matters: Alberta, 37, son of an evangelical minister, was inspired to write "The Kingdom, The Power, and the Glory" by a final conversation with his father — who died in 2019, just after visiting Washington to celebrate the release of Tim's bestseller, "American Carnage."

The backstory: Alberta tells Axios he "grew up (quite literally) inside the evangelical church, then came of age as a young believer both enamored of Jesus and deeply skeptical of institutional Christianity."

  • "Having long suppressed my concerns about the church — the abuses, the corruption, the culture warring — I tried to keep looking the other way ... It wasn’t until my Dad died ... that I confronted the realities of what American Christianity had become."

Details: "I visited hundreds of churches, and countless more Christian colleges, denominational non-profits, independent ministries, fundraisers, cattle calls, rallies," Alberta continued.

  • "The reporting took me to all four corners of the country and beyond (one chapter is based in Europe, exploring the Ukraine war through the prism of Putinism and Trumpism as civil religions).
  • "I interviewed megachurch leaders and pastors who lead flocks of 20; I covered the crack-ups of major denominations and individual congregations; I documented the hypocrisy and self-dealing happening at the highest levels of American Christianity."

Of note: Asked what the process took out of him, Alberta said: "Everything. It's been a bruising, exhausting, demoralizing journey."

  • "And yet, the Lord has blessed it. I have felt His hand on this project from the very beginning. Every time I found myself in need — of something big and dramatic or small and specific — He provided. I only hope the results are pleasing in His sight. My name means 'Honoring God,' and I have tried to honor God with this endeavor."
  • "Some Christians, no doubt, will recoil at my airing of this dirty laundry. But I believe it is essential, if we are to restore the reputation of the church in the eyes of an unbelieving world, that we practice humility, transparency, and above all, accountability. God demands justice and delights in truth. This light I have attempted to shine into the darkness will expose what is wrong; it will also illuminate what is right."

"The Kingdom" opens with a disturbing account of turmoil at Alberta's own childhood church.

  • The book was represented by Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn of Javelin.

Preorder here.

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