The impetus to protect oneself fell on the girl. The impetus to say no fell on the girl. The work, the labor, of purity: it was all girls’.

And if she failed in this — if she sparked a boy’s lust (let alone a girl’s — the compulsory heterosexuality of this message deserves an entire post in and of itself) — the failure was hers. And she had not only failed herself, and her “Christian brother,” but God. It was a sin, but a particularly grievous sort of one. For even though the actual bible teaches that all sins may be forgiven, or that all sins are equal before the eyes of God, under evangelism, there is no sin more horrifying than sexual impurity. (I truly believe this — spousal abuse, pedophilia, even murder, all of it pales to the way the church talks about the wages of sexual sin).

Source: the shame is ours

it’s no wonder that Christian communities that insist on “biblical inerrancy,” a hallmark of evangelicalism, exhibit abusive dynamics. If you want to understand the Christian extremism that represents the single greatest threat to democracy and human rights in America today, it’s important to understand how authoritarian Christians read the Bible.

True believers become so emotionally invested in their need to be feel justified that they often cannot face the ego threat of admitting that in fact they have not been radically transformed. Adults who join cults or cult-like religious groups such as conservative evangelical churches usually do so in an attempt to address some serious source of trauma in their lives. The children raised in these toxic faith communities then experience generational trauma. Indeed, psychologically, fundamentalism may be described as a misdirected response to trauma perpetuated communally and generationally. All of this is highly conducive to the proliferation of hypocrisy and abuse.

Evangelicals espouse a very dark view of human nature associated with their approach original sin, and sometimes with the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity. The belief that, without being “saved” by God, we are entirely corrupt, teaches us to doubt our own doubts. Ultimately, authoritarian Christianity leads to us learning to gaslight ourselves, and that is difficult to unlearn.

If you were raised in Jesus Land, even if you were not physically or sexually abused, you were spiritually abused, gaslighted, manipulated, and controlled, though you may find it hard to own this truth. When abuse was your “normal,” it can be difficult to start seeing it. It can also be emotionally fraught to start recognizing your friends’ and family’s behaviors as abusive. Learning to do so is painful but ultimately empowering. Another reason it is never easy to extricate oneself from Jesus Land is that the social and psychological costs of leaving an authoritarian faith community are high. Still. once you begin to see that the abusive ethos of Jesus Land itself is the problem, the source of your inner turmoil, you can begin to relieve the cognitive dissonance and to counter the negative self-talk and harmful old thought patterns with new patterns.

Remember this: you are your own person, you are morally autonomous, and you own your story. The more we talk back about why we reject the fear-based faith of our fathers, finding the voices in which to tell our stories and refusing to allow authoritarian Christians to frame them, the easier it will become not only for us to realize ourselves authentically, but also for others to escape from Jesus Land. If you are struggling with this, be gentle and patient with yourself. Authentic transformation, after all, does not happen overnight. Eventually you will find your way forward, whether in affirming and progressive faith or outside of organized religion and/or spirituality altogether.

Source: Escape from Jesus Land: On Recognizing Evangelical Abuse and Finding the Strength to Reject the Faith of Our Fathers – Not Your Mission Field

I updated “Racist, Misogynist, Eugenicist, Ableist, Bigot, Traitor, Gaslighter, Liar: A Letter to My Representatives on Their Christofascist Bigotry” with selections from “Escape from Jesus Land: On Recognizing Evangelical Abuse and Finding the Strength to Reject the Faith of Our Fathers – Not Your Mission Field” and “Journalists Should Stop Scratching their Heads about Evangelical Trumpism, Admit White Evangelicals are Illiberal Christians – Not Your Mission Field”.

I think it’s important for liberal Americans who do not come from a patriarchal religious background to hear our stories and to sit with that shock. Why? Because I remain convinced that if American civil society and the American press fail to come to grips with just how radically theocratic the Christian Right is, any kind of post-Trump soft landing scenario in which American democracy recovers a healthy degree of functionality is highly unlikely.

To put it another way, you may not come from Jesus Land, USA, but Jesus Land is coming for you. We will all be subjected to theocratic dystopia, to “one kleptocracy under God,” if we don’t stop the Christian Right. The Christian Right has been able to acquire massively disproportionate power in part because the press has allowed evangelicals’ slick, code switching PR spin doctors-such as the Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell “journalists never ask me about my view that feminism is a heresy” Moore-to frame the national discussion of evangelicalism. The result is that the readers of major news outlets are presented with an unrealistically benign picture of a darkly authoritarian, cult-like branch of Protestantism. That’s one reason I’m writing this essay.

Source: Escape from Jesus Land: On Recognizing Evangelical Abuse and Finding the Strength to Reject the Faith of Our Fathers – Not Your Mission Field

The elephant in the room is that the vast majority of (mostly white) conservative Evangelicals hold to a fundamentalist, authoritarian version of Christianity that is incompatible with pluralism, but for that no less “really” Christian, as “real” Christianity comes in both reactionary and progressive versions. Combined with political power, conservative Evangelicalism threatens democracy and human rights, and to continue to treat conservative Evangelicals as if they are operating in good faith within the acceptable boundaries of American democratic norms will serve only to normalize extremism, allowing Evangelicals to further erode our democracy. And pretending that “real” religion is incapable of being abusive and anti-democratic only serves to deflect from the rot within American Christianity that we as a society need to face.

Source: Journalists Should Stop Scratching their Heads about Evangelical Trumpism, Admit White Evangelicals are Illiberal Christians – Not Your Mission Field

The Trump administration following through on moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has made it more imperative than ever that Americans understand evangelicals’ apocalyptic beliefs and their concomitant politics of Providentialism. The extreme influence of white evangelicals in the Trump administration is having a serious, destabilizing impact on foreign relations and geopolitics. For a primer on evangelicals’ apocalyptic beliefs in relation to Jerusalem, see this piece on growing up with ends times beliefs and this one on evangelicals, Israel, and Trump. For more details, get ahold of Jason Dittmer and Tristan Sturm’s Mapping the End Times: American Evangelical Politics and Apocalyptic Visions.

Source: Update and Exvangelical Miscellany: Academia, Exvies, the Evangelical Reckoning, the Columbia International University Scandal, and Jerusalem – Not Your Mission Field

I’ve been digging around in an idea that pervades Evangelicalism. The Evangelical belief that we merely live in our bodies. American Christianity (which consists in large part of evangelicalism) has minimized the theology and, if you will, sacredness of the body, saying that the physical body was irrelevant except to house the soul.

When framed in the evangelical American context, this twisted argument has a lot of value. It was probably the easiest theological justification for America’s beloved human rights abuses: enslavement and genocide.

By necessity of white America’s devotion to these practices, the black body didn’t matter to God.

The black experience didn’t matter to God.

Black suffering didn’t matter to God.

Evangelical theology has a functional disregard for both the body and mind, minimizing very real mental health disorders and often attributing them to personal sin or spiritual attack. It requires you to cut off parts of yourself in order to be a true believer.

In order to be a Christian, you have to engage in a form of self-colonization. You have to amputate your blackness, Latinness, Nativeness. You have to amputate your sexuality, your queerness, your masculinity if you’re female, your femininity if you’re male, your passions, your dreams, your intelligence, your critical thinking. No form of otherness is accepted within their narrow interpretation of Christianity.

Evangelicals will tell you that the resulting emotional and mental anguish and suffering are just holiness working in your life. Somehow they never have to answer for the fact that permanent pain is not positive growth.

When you are in pain, you are less able to think clearly and therefore easier to manipulate and control.

Do not mangle yourself for some White Jesus who expects your marginalization to continue as proof of your piety, while those with power, privilege, and supremacy do nothing to ease your burden. Jesus did not come to oppress the marginalized and put heavy loads on their backs. In fact, he condemned powerful people who were doing exactly that.

Source: We Get To Be Free — Tori Williams Douglass

We’ve gone so far as to organize our gods around misogyny. The evangelical South’s support for Roy Moore has drawn shocked, breathless comment. But the white South’s Christian faith has always been malleable, bending to accommodate the power of white men.

Masculinity operates like whiteness: It demands control over any space it enters. It plants itself in the center and shoves anything coded as feminine to the edges. In a man’s world, decisive is better than deliberate. Bold is strong; cautious consideration is weak. Reflection invites regret, and that’s weak, too. Ditto collectivity-the rugged individual only joins a group in which he can be the reigning hero. And he keeps his emotions in check. Better to strike out in rage than sit in your sadness. I spent far too many years accepting these falsities as obvious truths, wearing them like a straitjacket around my own humanity.

And just as these ideas confine the minds and hearts of men, they corrode public life. They are at least part of the reason that we have an economy organized around greed, a culture that frames collectivity as a threat to individuality, and a politics that approaches nuanced problems with rigid yes/no debates.

Source: The Misogynist Within | The Nation

I updated “Sex Ed: Toxic Masculinity, Emotional Expression, Online Privacy, Identity Management, Dress Codes, Bodily Autonomy, and Purity Culture – Ryan Boren” with a selection from “Trump and White Evangelicals: Support for President Grows, But Millennials Leave Movement” providing background on #ChurchToo.

Evangelical churches, with their insistence on a God-given patriarchal system in which women are believed to be created as male helpmeets, are also facing a potential tsunami of online and private allegations about sexual abuse. After the Harvey Weinstein celebrity revelations prompted the #MeToo movement, two ex-evangelical women started a #ChurchToo movement. The women, Emily Joy and Hannah Paasch, both 27, told Newsweek that after they started the hashtag, they were inundated with thousands of public and private messages from women and girls describing abuse from pastors and at fundamentalist Christian schools and colleges, mostly swept under the rug.

Source: Trump and White Evangelicals: Support for President Grows, But Millennials Leave Movement

“Race is connected to a story they are telling themselves. A story about how God gave them this country, how they are Chosen and loved, how they are Good. It is awkward to say that God gave you a country that you claimed by committing genocide (even if there is more than one Old Testament example of God doing exactly that). It doesn’t fit the narrative. Just like it doesn’t fit to say that you built that country on the backs of slaves, that the belief in the love of God simply did not translate to people who did not look like you. It is no accident, the things we say and the things we don’t. It is also no accident that 80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump this last election, and it is closely related. Though many of them may have said it was about abortion, the fact that they were able to close their eyes to the race and gender implications of a Donald Trump presidency says plenty about the path they’ve chosen.

Those of us white kids who were raised in this, whether we still believe it or not, it matters that we name the water we swam in and the impact it had on us. We learned lessons about ourselves, about who we are in the world, about who deserved what. It’s time to Name those things, it’s time to Know them, to Know ourselves. We were a part of perpetuating a white supremacist system, and even if we had no choice about being born into it, we have a choice with what we do now.

Source: Naming White Supremacy — Fundamentally Free

“While each of these sources had varying nuances on how and why premarital sex could and should be avoided, one of the central tenets was that men could not be counted on to control themselves. The responsibility to avoid sex would fall squarely on female shoulders. This only worked because, in this belief system, women do not experience sexual desire.

As a teen girl, grown men would tell me with a chuckle that I simply could not understand “what teenage boys are like.”

Never did these men pause to wonder what it is like to be a teenage girl.

The assumption was that the female virgin simply did not desire sex. If someone did express sexual desire (a very bold thing to admit to) she was told that it was not sex that she desired, but the “emotional closeness.” Men enjoyed sex. Women enjoyed cuddling afterward.

Of course, all of that shame and ignorance about sex is supposed to simply melt away as an Evangelical woman says her wedding vows. Instantly sex goes from forbidden to mandatory. (Is there anything more antithetical to desire than obligation?)

Evangelical Purity Culture is an exercise in controlling female sexual desire.

Source: How Evangelical Purity Culture Sacrifices Female Pleasure — Fundamentally Free