Over the last week, I’ve been traveling with my parents around Florida, including heading down to the Fort Myers area to spend time with some relatives there and celebrate the high school graduation of one of my youngest cousins. For that reason, I haven’t been too active online, and it’s only today that I can really get down to figuring out how to organize my summer, during which I’ll be focusing on reading, blogging, and and writing projects.
I need to get on making some updates to this site, including additions to the resources page and my selected press mentions and interviews. In the meantime, however, I wanted to highlight some important conversations that are happening on Twitter thanks to the initiative of members of the exvangelical community.
I am thrilled to see the brilliant Tori Douglass, someone I am proud to call a friend, becoming increasingly visible and influential on Twitter.
On May 20, Tori started the hashtag #WhitenessToldMe, and it quickly trended, becoming the latest viral hashtag to be started by an exvie. While the hashtag is not specifically an ex-evangelical one, conservative, predominantly white evangelicalism in the U.S. is steeped in white supremacism as illustrated, for example, by this demographic’s overwhelming Trump support.
The conservative evangelical project of “racial reconciliation”–a project that Rev. Dr. Andre Johnson, who started the hashtag #WhiteChurchQuiet, argues was a fallacious “solution” to the racial divide in American Christianity in the first place–is now clearly failing, as African-Americans who had worked to integrate predominantly white churches are now leaving those churches. Racism is America’s original sin, and conversations about race are certainly critical for exvangelicals coming out of a deeply racist religious tradition.
The #WhitenessToldMe hashtag conversation focuses on the unpacking of white privilege and the insidious and sometimes subtle hegemony of whiteness as society’s default. Tori told me that one of the aspects of this hashtag that she appreciates is that both white people and people of color can contribute to it, which means that trolls asserting that the hashtag is about “being a victim” and “racism against whites” (as if “reverse racism” were a thing) can be confronted with the fact that white anti-racists are involved in the examination of lies whiteness told us. Here are some examples of racist trolling:
Of course, in conversations like this, the experiences and voices of POC should be centered. I encourage you to do a deep dive into the hashtag on Twitter, as well as to read two write-ups about the hashtag in the Australian press, here and here. Here are a few more powerful examples from Twitter:
#BeingExvangelical is the latest specifically ex-evangelical hashtag to make a splash. The idea came from this tweet by James Floyd, one that I can certainly relate to, although my fear hell as a place of eternal conscious torment is mostly gone now (after well over a decade of lingering despite my disbelief in it):
Fellow exvie Daniel Hobbs hashtagged James’s phrase after reading this tweet, sparking an ongoing conversation that has been cathartic for many in the exvangelical community. Here are a few examples:
I’m so proud of my fellow exvies who are influencing public discussions about important issues and helping each other recover from evangelicalism. As comes up time and again in ex-evangelical conversations, it is very important to know that you’re not alone in what you’re going through as a doubting and wavering evangelical or an ex-evangelical. If you’re out there and need to hear this message, it’s okay to listen to your doubts. It’s okay to leave evangelicalism for progressive Christianity, some other healthy religious path, or no religion at all. And you are not alone.