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The Independent Critic

 Book Review: The Exvangelicals by Sarah McCammon 
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My own journey through organized religion has been a bit of a kaleidoscopic tapestry. From being raised within the cultlike Jehovah's Witnesses to spending several years within the charismatic Vineyard Christian Fellowship to becoming ordained in an independent New Thought church and then licensed in ministry within the Anabaptist tradition, I've spent much of my life searching for a place that feels like home.

These days, I unexpectedly have aligned myself with a large Presbyterian church of the PC-USA variety, the latest stop (and I hope my last stop) in my lifetime of seeking a place where I can live, love, and hopefully never leave.

"The Exvangelicals: Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church" by Sarah McCammon is her own intimate glimpse into the world of American evangelicalism. The Exvangelicals chronicles definitively the growing movement of those leaving this major religious subculture by capturing what often drew many into the movement and also what has been over the years the fracture points - from purity culture to isolationism to politics to, yes, Trump.

McCammon brings her journalistic skills into The Exvangelicals, simultaneously creating an work that is largely biography/memoir yet also immersive history and investigative in nature.

For those who identify with words like "deconstruction" and "post-evangelical," The Exvangelicals will feel like a breath of fresh air and McCammon will feel like a sister. For those who identify more completely with MAGA, Trump, and the hard political right, The Exvangelicals will likely have nothing to offer other than, perhaps, questions, challenges, and seeds for reflection.

There will be, of course, those within the evangelical movement who won't necessarily resonate with The Exvangelicals. Their experiences will have been different and McCammon's obvious and continued deconstruction will feel harsh and maybe even judgmental. I will confess that even I felt like, at times, "The Exvangelicals" paints with a broader stroke than necessary and there were glimpses into McCammon's work to move away from her childhood teachings.

However, for a growing number of adults who no longer identify with the white evangelical church this remarkably researched effort may very well become the first vital journey through the evangelical movement and what it means to deconstruct whether one continues to identify as "Christian" or chooses some other term. Destined to be controversial yet absolutely essential, "The Exvangelicals" is beautifully researched, achingly transparent, heartfelt, vulnerable, and so much more.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic