Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Josh Harris, once one of America's most famous evangelical pastors, admitted in his first interview since renouncing Christianity that he ruined lives and marriages, so he excommunicated himself from the faith that made him famous.

  • "If you're not living according to the teaching of the Bible, and you're living in unrepentant sin, then you have to be put out of the church," Harris told "Axios on HBO" during an interview near his home in Vancouver, British Columbia. "I excommunicated myself, essentially."

Harris stunned his tightknit world by going on Instagram in July and announcing that he was leaving his marriage and — nine days later — that he was no longer a Christian.

Many of his former followers "are angry — understandably," he told me.

  • As for the bad advice in his books, one of which sold more than 1 million copies, he said: "I apologized for it. I unpublished the books. I pulled the books off the market. But you can't give people [back], you know, years of their life."
  • "It was a long process for me. I started seeing that the book really had misled a lot of people."

Why it matters: Harris, 44, is emblematic of a generational split among evangelical Christians. Those older than him tended to live according to a rigid fundamentalism, and they often insisted their kids do the same.

  • Many younger Christians think they can better adhere to modern society while sacrificing no teachings of God or Jesus.

The big picture: Harris — whose parents were among the nation's leading proponents of homeschooling, putting him in the spotlight early — was a leading face and voice of the old school.

  • At 21, he published "I Kissed Dating Goodbye," a manual for conservative young Christians that sold 1.2 million copies. He has since renounced the book and withdrawn it from publication: "[I]n an effort to set a high standard, the book emphasized practices (not dating, not kissing before marriage) and concepts ... that are not in the Bible." At the time, he followed his own advice: He says the first time he kissed his wife was at the altar.
  • At 30, he became the lead pastor of the massive Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which at its height drew 4,000 worshippers each Sunday. About 50 staff and pastors reported to Harris. Covenant Life and its parent, Sovereign Grace Ministries, were later hit with a child abuse scandal. Harris told me that the church tried to handle cases internally when the authorities should have been called. Amid a church split, Harris left in 2015.

Now, Harris is the father of three teenagers, will be divorcing his wife of 20 years, spends some Sunday morning doing yoga — and thinks he made massive mistakes.

  • "I was a leader and a spokesman and I called people to live in very particular ways, to sacrifice in very particular ways," he said. "And so for me to change in my thinking feels like a betrayal to them."
  • "I was really just trying to be honest about the fact that all the ways that I had defined faith and Christianity, that I was no longer choosing to live according to those."

Between the lines: Harris — who has started a company called Clear & Loud to help businesses tell their stories — chose not to say what his "unrepentant sin" is, although he noted that "oftentimes, that's related to sexuality."

  • He didn't want to be more specific: "It's like if the answer to the question of my sexuality puts me inside or outside of your circle, accepted or unaccepted, ... I don't want to be friends, you know? F--- you and f--- your circle. That's how I feel. And so that's why I don't feel any need to answer that question."

Asked how much of a connection he sees between the fundamentalist doctrine of fear and the current political climate, Harris replied: "Fear is easily manipulated by political leaders."

  • "The more chaotic the world is, the more people want someone to tell them what to do. And when people are afraid, they latch on to people who say, 'I have the answers.'"

The bottom line: Harris once was one of those people. But no more.

  • "Someone said, 'I don't believe in God, but I miss Him.' I can relate to that."
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.

Go deeper

Big Tech lobbies hard against looming antitrust bill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big Tech CEOs, including Apple's Tim Cook and Google's Sundar Pichai, have been jawboning lawmakers as a Senate committee takes up a key antitrust bill Thursday.

Why it matters: The bill prompting this lobbying frenzy could upend how tech's giants do business, and tech's critics see this as a "now or never" moment for Congress to check the industry's power.

Biden stock market gets Trumped

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

U.S. stocks markets performed worse during the first year of Joe Biden's presidency than during the first year of Donald Trump's presidency.

By the numbers: The S&P 500 rose 19.3% between the market close before Biden's inauguration and yesterday's market close, compared to a 24.1% increase for Trump during the similar period.

First look: Biden's Year One turnover

Expand chart
Data: Brookings Institution; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Low first-year turnover among President Biden's senior staff marks a "return to normalcy" and a sign of stability after the Trump years, says a new Brookings Institution report reviewed by Axios.

Driving the news: The departure of five out of 66 "A-Team" officials puts Biden's departure rate as the third lowest since Ronald Reagan's presidency, above only George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush, the report found.