Chrissy Stroop Profile picture
Jan 3, 2018 43 tweets 14 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
1. I and many ex-Evangelicals share @DJSugi’s frustration. 2017 taught us some things about how to be heard.

“I’ve spent much of my adulthood terrified that Christian extremists would take over America, and... many of my peers seemed oblivious to my concerns.”
2. Before laying out my thoughts on this, a couple of caveats. Firstly, it's not the fault of survivors of extremist Christianity that mainstream America has proven largely unwilling to listen.
3. An (untenable, circular) impulse to consider "real" religion benign is baked into American national DNA, although it functions disproportionately in favor of Christianity. Christian privilege is very real.
4. Secondly, while I'm going to call for ex-Evangelicals and other former fundamentalists to work across specific differences and come out of "silos," I do not mean to discredit more narrowly focused projects.
5. For example, while I think former homeschoolers and Christian school kids need to work together with each other and with ex-Evangelicals who had neither of those experiences, I have great respect for the pioneering efforts of @HomeschoolAnon.
6. In addition, America's elite media outlets bear a lot of responsibility for not taking the threat of the Christian Right to human rights and democracy seriously enough before in-your-face Evangelical Trumpism.
7. Many of us have been speaking out about the authoritarian, anti-democratic, abusive nature of conservative, mostly white Evangelicalism for some time. We don't exactly owe anything to those who refused to listen.
8. And with that in mind, projects focused solely or primarily on community and healing for ex-Evangelicals and other ex-fundamentalists are valid. Take care of yourselves first.
9. However, if you have the spoons and the willingness to try and engage wider audiences in order to help expose the Christian Right as a serious threat, a project that I personally prioritize, I have some suggestions. #EmptyThePews
9-a. Note that I said "expose." There is no scalable way to change conservative Evangelicals' minds. They, like all fundamentalists, reject pluralism and need to be sidelined from political influence in order for democracy to function. #EmptyThePews…
10. So, all that context established, I now want to make some suggestions both for ex-Evangelicals willing to speak out publicly and for journalists and sympathizers.
11. A good starting point for thinking about public engagement and influence would be my recap of ex-Evangelical achievements in 2017:
#EmptyThePews #YouDontKnowEvangelicals
12. And, with respect to how journalists can responsibly write about conservative Evangelicals without being uncritical and without violating journalistic standards of objectivity, by including key context and ex-Evangelical voices, see:…
13. Now to specifics. First off, let me say that the more of us ex-Evangelicals who are willing to engage the public under our own names, the better. I know this is fraught for most of us and unsafe for some of us. No judgment if you can't do this. But if you can, do.
14. Next, while ex-Evangelicals share what @brchastain aptly calls "a common sociocultural heritage" (aka a super weird subcultural background), there are differences among us in both background and post-Evangelical experience.
15. Sometimes these differences cause tensions, particularly among those ex-Evangelicals who found a way forward within healthy Christianity, on the one hand, and those who left organized religion altogether, on the other.
16. While I believe it's worth finding ways to accommodate these differences in terms of community and healing, it's also true that the more voices we have acting as a community and movement, the greater the likelihood we have of being heard. So let's respect each other's choices
17. Next, as a former Christian school kid, I have often felt somewhat envious of the online community that former homeschoolers have developed. Fairly or unfairly (probably unfairly), that community has sometimes seemed to me somewhat insular.
18. Of course, I fully acknowledge the specificity of Christian ideological homeschooling experience and recognize that there are things I'm not aware or don't feel on a visceral level, since I was never part of it.
19. That being said, there are many similarities between Christian homeschool and Christian school experience in terms of ideological indoctrination, etc.
20. Projects focused on radical homeschooling survivors are absolutely valid, but I would encourage those involved with them to make contacts in and make common cause with the wider ex-Evangelical community when possible. Let's find common ground and common fronts for action.
20-a. Exhibit A for someone doing exactly that, and very impressively, would be @KEBrightbill. She's one of the most significant voices in the ex-Evangelical community, in my view. Thanks for everything you do, Kathryn!
21. 2017 seems to be a turning point year in which many ex-Evangelicals did come together in a sense of community, a year in which we reached critical mass. Part of how that happened is social media and hashtag campaigns.
22. For some time, I have been advocating the use of hashtags both to help us come together and experience healing as a community, and also to expose the extremism of Evangelicalism to outsiders:

23. Our experience in 2017 has shown that this works - hashtags helped us find each other and earned us news coverage in @RawStory, @voxdotcom, and other outelts. Going ahead, greater coordination could create an even larger impact.
24. And based on the numbers of ex-Evangelicals who continue to @ me with "I thought I was the only one" and the number of outsiders who continue to express shock at tags like #RaptureAnxiety, I believe there is still plenty of progress to be made in this regard.
25. In my view, promoting other ex-Evangelicals' and ex-fundamentalists' work and voices is at least equally important to coordinating our hashtag campaigns. The more people who help get our voices and messages out there, the more likely they'll be picked up by mainstream America
26. In so doing, we also need to be self-conscious about promoting a variety of voices. If we're breaking away from Evangelicalism in large part because it's patriarchal, women, members of the LGTQ community, and POC need to be centered.
27. I am not saying not to promote the work of straight, white, ex-Evangelical men. But if you are a straight, white, ex-Evangelical man in particular, make sure you're not only listening to and promoting people like you. You know who does this well? @brchastain.
27-a. I strive to promote others' voices in an inclusive way, and I try to listen to criticism if I mess up without taking it too personally. Not shutting out pushback needs to be something our community values. Here are some ex-Evangelicals I recommend:

28. My last recommendation for ex-Evangelicals hoping to help our community influence national discourse is to build community off Twitter as well. We have an FB support group called Exvangelical that is active and rapidly growing.…
29. I would like to see us form an ex-Evangelical activist FB group to organize and coordinate actions, and I'm among many others, such as @brchastain and @ToriGlass, who would like to see us have more offline events.
30. Such things require funding, and as an emerging community and movement, that's not something we really have in any centralized way at this point. We should think about that going ahead. Meanwhile, a number of ex-Evangelical projects have Patreons worth supporting if you can.
31. Well, panel discussions, conferences/conventions, that sort of thing requires funding. Individual local groups can start without funding, and I think that would be a good thing. Anyone want to meet in or near Tampa? DM me. #EmptyThePews #Exvangelical
32. And if you're wondering what you can do for conservative Evangelical friends or relatives experiencing abuse and/or possibly questioning their beliefs? Get them resources. Here's a partial curated, annotated list I mean to expand this year.…
33. And now a note for progressive Christians, including those who identify as ex-Evangelicals. #NotAll defensiveness is never helpful. Some of you are responding to this thread in that way. You're not helping. Quite the opposite.
34. And finally, a couple more thoughts on how sympathetic journalists can approach Evangelical extremism and the ex-Evangelical community and movement.
35. I think the clearest way to do this will be to critique a specific example. Take this @HuffPost piece on voucher schools by @rklein90:…
36. First and foremost, this is an excellent, hard-hitting, thorough piece of investigative journalism of which @rklein90 should be very proud. America needs more journalism like this. But.
37. When it comes to @rklein90's treatment not of Evangelicals but rather of ex-Evangelicals in this piece, there is substantial room for improvement. The story makes us look primarily like victims.
38. How should @rklein90's story have portrayed ex-Evangelicals? It's okay, of course, to highlight the real harm that Evangelicalism has done to us. The problem is that we don't get deserved credit for pushing back.
39. I hope @rklein90 won't mind me noting that I consulted with her on this story. Yet ex-Evangelicals appear here only as victims, not as a key group pushing to get the public to understand the dangers of Evangelical extremism. Our efforts should be acknowledged. #EmptyThePews
40. That's all for now. If you haven't, check out the hashtags #YouDontKnowEvangelicals, #EmptyThePews, #ChurchToo, #RaptureAnxiety, and #SpiritualAbuse. And if you can and would like to support my writing, advocacy and activism (thanks!), click here:

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More from @C_Stroop

Oct 1, 2018
1. I just sent out this month's newsletter for all @Patreon patrons who support me with a $5 or higher monthly pledge. If you find my work valuable and would like the inside Stroop scoop, please consider joining them!

#Exvangelical #SundayThoughts
2. At the end of the last academic year, I faced a choice--move back in with my parents in Indiana to pursue the freelance writing and speaking opportunities I was getting more of, or adjunct at the University of South Florida for low pay and no benefits. Or find something new.
3. Here's a thread with some of my life story up to the present. The travel to Austria next spring to do a semester of research mentioned in it fell through despite me having been promised it for years.

Read 15 tweets
Sep 29, 2018
Another reversal of an improvement for LGBTQ acceptance in an evangelical institution (World Vision is the other one I have in mind). Evangelicalism doesn’t change its patriarchal ways. It just casts out the people who would make it better.

#Exvangelical #EmptyThePews #Resist
Of course Wheaton might be the more direct parallel.…

#Exvangelical #EmptyThePews
For more on the authoritarian enforcement of hardline conservative orthodoxy at evangelical colleges, see my latest for @Playboy:…

#Exvangelical #EmptyThePews #SaturdayThoughts
Read 4 tweets
Sep 19, 2018
I also RT requests for financial help fairly often. Unfortunately, many in the #Exvangelical community have needs and are hampered by lack of education, meaningless degrees, or lack of professional experience outside evangelical institutions. The social costs of leaving are high.
I don’t want or expect anyone who can’t afford it to give, and I don’t want anyone to feel obligated; even just RTing those requests is immensely helpful. It is my hope that someday we’ll have some kind of foundation to fund #Exvangelical projects and meet needs. #EmptyThePews
Sometimes crowdfunding is all that stands between an #Exvangelical and homelessness, or being forced to return to a toxic, abusive living situation. That’s the uncomfortable reality. I do make small donations myself to almost every fundraising request I amplify.
Read 4 tweets
Sep 13, 2018
“We have to put citizens at the heart of our response to disinformation.” - Nina Jankowicz (@wiczipedia) at the Indiana Council on World Affairs.
One thing social media sites should be doing is providing a simplified approach to their terms of service so that users can provide informed consent.

Enforcement of terms of service also needs to be consistent, and cannot he left to algorithms alone.
Social media platforms should step up to pay for human processes re: terms of service violations and appeals. Democracy is at stake.

They can also embrace more of an educational role with respect to information literacy.
Read 6 tweets
Sep 7, 2018
September is a big month! I’m at the airport on my way Florida for The #Exvangelical Community: Paths, Projects, Prospects. In the last two days I’ve filed two pieces with editors, and this week I did podcasts w/ @NiceMangos and @kitchencultpod (@haettinger and @mxdarkwater). #FF
Next weekend I’ll be in Charleston, South Carolina to give a talk for @CHShumanists, and am very much looking forward to that! October is also pretty full!

#Exvangelical #EmptyThePews #FridayFeeIing #FF
And next week I’ll also be doing a second podcast episode with @TwistedSisterds! It’ll be my second time on, and I sure had fun last time!

#Exvangelical #FF
Read 4 tweets
Aug 28, 2018
1. A few thoughts on Trump's dinner in honor of evangelicals, which I'll be discussing with @RickSmithShow later. Key context to consider is that fascism is concerned with defining who belongs to "the nation" or "the people," and who doesn't. Internal enemies (Others) are needed.
2. This dovetails neatly with the way in which fundamentalist believers police who does and does not count as a member of their religious confession. This is critical to understanding the Christian Right's politics of "religious freedom":

3. Indeed, as I have written elsewhere, "Fundamentalism is authoritarianism in microcosm, or on the margins. Fascism is essentially fundamentalism in power." The vast majority of white evangelicals are authoritarian and fundamentalist.…

Read 25 tweets

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