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The Exvangelicals

Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church

Sarah McCammon

St. Martin's Press

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ISBN10: 1250284473
ISBN13: 9781250284471


320 Pages



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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.


Praise for The Exvangelicals

"With sensitivity and candor, Sarah McCammon offers readers an intimate window into the world of American evangelicalism. Fellow exvangelicals will find McCammon’s story both startlingly familiar and immensely clarifying, while those looking in from the outside can find no better introduction to the subculture that has shaped the hopes and fears of millions of Americans. Filled with humor, insight, and hard-earned wisdom, The Exvangelicals is a gift to all who find themselves on a spiritual journey."—Kristin Kobes Du Mez, New York Times bestselling author of Jesus and John Wayne

"No one else could have written The Exvangelicals but Sarah McCammon. The way she seamlessly weaves together her own journalistic expertise and deeply personal experience of leaving evangelicalism to explore this moment in American history is stunning. Immediately after reading this book, I found myself already excited for her next one."—Nadia Bolz-Weber, New York Times bestselling author of Accidental Saints

"The Exvangelicals is a sensitive, informed exploration of what is often most personal and perplexing to us—our faith. McCammon takes the scramble of thoughts, feelings, and fears that characterize this era of religious re-examination and makes them legible. This isn't just a book about what evangelicalism has become, it is also about the ways people are trying to find what comes next."—Jemar Tisby, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of The Color of Compromise and How to Fight Racism

"Sarah McCammon's The Exvangelicals is a necessary and powerful unveiling of Christianity as one of the most powerful forces in American culture and politics. With precision, personal insight, empathy, and rigor, McCammon investigates her own past and in the process illuminates the America of today in all its gory complexities and fervent faith. A must-read for anyone looking to understand American politics, faith, and culture."—Lyz Lenz, author of God Land, Belabored, and This American Ex-Wife

"Sarah McCammon is an extraordinary writer and reporter, telling the story of growing numbers of people deeply disillusioned with their religious upbringing. She writes The Exvangelicals with such precision, passion, and insight because she's one of them. Highly recommended."—Brian D. McLaren, author of Do I Stay Christian?

"Making sense of the larger movement currently taking place throughout evangelical spaces is no easy task, but McCammon takes it all on—while anchoring the reader in the personal, human details that made me feel I was not alone in my own increasingly wide-ranging faith journey.”—Jessica Willis Fisher, author of Unspeakable

“Incisive, clear, and deeply compassionate, The Exvangelicals is a brilliant critique of a powerful cultural movement, and a moving meditation on loving (and eventually leaving) one’s roots.”Shelf Awareness
"A bold, intriguing, intimate read . . . McCammon’s poignant book serves as a launchpad to learn more.”Kirkus Reviews

"Informative, thought-provoking, and enlightening.”Booklist

“[A] clear-eyed look at the mass disaffiliation from evangelical churches and culture in recent years . . . a lucid picture of life inside the evangelical community and the complicated choice to leave.”Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Sarah McCammon

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.