Photo by Jon Tyson via Unsplash
A recent study conducted by American author Brandon Flanery shows that churches in the US are facing a crisis of abandonment. Rampant homophobia and Donald Trump hastened the trend.
Flanery, who is due to publish a “sassy” memoir, Stumbling, later this year, parted company with evangelicals and learned to come to terms with his identity as a gay man.
In a study published by Baptist News he pointed out that:
As of Dec. 6, 2020, the hashtag “#exchristian” had 696.7 million cumulative views on TikTok and was assigned to more than 68,600 posts on Instagram. When looking specifically at evangelicalism, the numbers nearly double. The hashtag “#exvangelical” was viewed 1.1 billion times on TikTok and was assigned to 105,000 posts on Instagram.
This prompted Flanery to conduct a study in a bid to ascertain precisely what’s fueling this exodus, and found that homophobia was the main driving force.
When it comes to the moment people first began doubting their faith, LGBTQ acceptance is the most common reason, followed by the behavior of Christians, and then things not making sense on an intellectual level (an example of this would be: I couldn’t reconcile how there can be an all-powerful God and evil).
Yes, a good number of my respondents were queer, and not being accepted by their congregations was a critical motive for leaving. However, the majority of respondents were straight and cisgender, and they ultimately started doubting Christianity when they were told they couldn’t support their queer friends and family. Unable to rectify their love of LGBTQ people with the church, they chose LGBTQ acceptance.
Trump was the ‘last straw’
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Many people who responded to a survey conducted by Flanery said that they abandoned Christianity after Trump’s election and the support he received from the evangelical community. In fact, the name “Trump” was mentioned 81 times in the survey. Below are some respondents’ experiences:
• A culmination of events over the course of a few months starting in the summer of 2020. I had a fight with my father-in-law over the Confederate flag being a symbol of racism, he stopped speaking to me for months and it became a whole thing. The rise in glorifying Trump and fascism disguised as democracy.
• Seeing so many friends and family that claim to love and follow Jesus pledge their allegiance to nationalism and Trump.
• The 2016 election. I wanted nothing to do with a group that supported Trump and his insane ideology under the pretense of faith.
• Trump was the last straw for me. Seeing a person who should be the opposite of what Christians are called to be, being supported by evangelicals everywhere, really woke me up to some harsh American/conservative realities and how we’ve bastardized Christianity like others before to push not love or Christ but instead Republican dogma steeped in racism, sexism and greed with the Bible as a manipulation tool to get people to conform to these particular ideals that have nothing to do with the Gospels.
Off topic, but only just
I have just completed reading a side-splittingly funny novel called Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen who mercilessly takes the piss out of Trump and his First Lady.
In exchange for a small donation via PayPal, Buy Me a Coffee or GofundMe I will send you an ePub version of the satirical book that left some Christians sizzling with anger.
Set on the wealthy island of Palm Beach, Florida, where the President has a mansion, the novel is centered on the mysterious disappearance of Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons. She is a leading Palm Beach socialite and a member of a group of elderly women who so adore Trump that they call themselves the Potussies.
At one point they perform a song for the Tangerine Twitter Machine called “sweet unimpeachable you.”
Here are some furious responses:
• Did a disservice to our wonderful, successful president who brought America back from the Obama administration that crushed our country. Won’t read another book.
• It was totally unflattering of our president and First Lady. Hassan [sic] took liberties that made me cringe of our president that has achieved so much in 4 years for the American people. I shall never read another of his books. Shame on you.
• I am usually a fan of Carl and enjoy his books tremendously. Unfortunately, in Squeeze Me, Carl let his animosity toward President Trump and the First Lady overcome his book. After saying multiple unsavory thinks about the President, he goes on to have the First Lady have an affair with a member of the Secret Service. To me, it did not contribute to the book but, rather, detracted from what promised to be a funny book about a killer Python. I was so disappointed with the political invective and the putting down of Conservatives that I have not bothered to finish it. He ruined what could have been a funny book. Reminder, Conservatives buy books too.
My published response was:
Absolutely brilliantly funny book, one I have recommended to many of my friends who share my hatred of the orange buffoon who orchestrated the assault on the Capitol. Using satire Haaisen exposes the enormity of Trump’s egoism, his constant lies, his misogyny, his sexism, his hatred of anyone who isn’t a white Christian Nazi and his infantile rants. Bravo, Carl!
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