Mar 19, 2024 - Politics & Policy

New book: Generational rift hits evangelical church

The cover of "The Exvangelicals"

Cover: St. Martin's Press

Younger generations of white evangelicals are drifting away from the church and pushing it into a major identity crisis, NPR reporter Sarah McCammon writes in her new memoir, "The Exvangelicals."

Why it matters: McCammon, who grew up evangelical, writes that many who were raised in the church now feel it's no longer connected with the modern world.

  • In her experience, and in interviewing countless other leaders and laypeople who have left the church, the teachings of Jesus seem in opposition to the church's messages around LGBTQ people, and women in particular.
  • McCammon writes about navigating difficult family relationships as she decides to leave the church and she and her husband divorce. She later finds spiritual peace in Judaism, as she remarries a man of a different faith.

Our thought bubble: McCammon adds an essential, human dimension to political chatter and analysis that often lumps all "evangelicals" as a static, monolithic voting block.

  • And for those unfamiliar with the culture of the community, it presents a vivid picture of what this still powerful group wants society to be under a Trump-led presidency.

Like Tim Alberta's insider political examination of evangelicals in his book, "The Kingdom, The Power and The Glory," McCammon reports from the insider's view of having grown up in the church.

  • As a child, McCammon grew up in a strict evangelical household where her family prayed for her non-believing grandfather and, like other girls, purity culture was emphasized and sexuality was shameful.

As a reporter, McCammon was assigned to cover Trump's presidential campaign, where she found herself confronting angry evangelicals who professed to hate "the media" and reporters like herself.

  • Yet she understood exactly their sentiments because she had grown up in a culture that had come to view itself as against the mainstream and threatened by a more secular world.

The bottom line: "For the Gen-Xers, millennials, and Zoomers who grew up in the shadow of the Moral Majority only to come of age in a far more pluralistic and interconnected world — these years have been a time of confusion and disillusionment," she told Axios.

  • Her new book, published by St. Martin's Press, is out March 19.
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