Discover and read the best of Twitter Threads about #EmptyThePews

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In November I wrote this for @Convo_ist, urging us to face the threat to human rights that fundamentalist Christianity—including conservative, mostly white evangelicalism—represents.

We must smash the taboo on criticizing Christians:

conversationalist.org/2019/11/14/if-…

#EmptyThePews
Yesterday I published this on the theory and practice of pluralism, reminding the atheist community that there is such a thing as healthy religion and urging progressive, inclusive believers and non-believers to work together for the common good:

conversationalist.org/2020/02/13/the…
I suggest treating these as companion pieces and reading them together, because they’re essentially focused on two sides of the same coin.

Fundamentalism of any kind is an anti-democratic force. But if we want people to take us seriously when we sound the alarm, we need nuance
Read 7 tweets
And also Mel Wells, who said far as I know is not on Twitter. Anyway, support women writers!

You can get the #EmptyThePews anthology via Amazon or wherever you buy books:

amazon.com/Empty-Pews-Sto…

Happy Galentine’s Day, #writerscommunity!
*writers
Read 4 tweets
@Artists_Ali @profagagne @BradleyOnishi @StraightWhiteJC @levi_bullen Did I miss any? I'm going to have to be off Twitter on a deadline for a while here, but please reply with your favorite ex-fundamentalist media projects--YouTube, podcasts, blogs, etc. Thanks!

#WednesdayThoughts #EmptyThePews
@Artists_Ali @profagagne @BradleyOnishi @StraightWhiteJC @levi_bullen Oh how I could I forget to list @SecularSex in my first tweet above? Shame on me:

youtube.com/channel/UC6rMz…
Read 3 tweets
On that note, of doctors do put their Christianity ahead of their patients, which is why I make sure to stick with university med school hospital and clinic systems.

I am privileged to be able to, and it’s outrageous that we have to worry about this.

#EmptyThePews
PS. This is truly essential to my wellbeing as a trans person and could ultimately be life or death. Cis women and anyone who can get pregnant are also seriously at risk in Christian hospitals and clinics.
Read 3 tweets
“Hookers for Jesus operates a safe house for female adult trafficking victims that, in 2010 and in 2018, maintained a policy of requiring guests to participate in religious activities.”

Your tax dollars at work supporting born again coercion

#EvangelicalsForTrump #EmptyThePews
“The manuals included a ban on reading ‘secular magazines that portray worldly views/advice on living, sex, clothing, makeup tips.’ Other rules limited everything from who victims could call to banning them from bringing their purses with them on weekly shopping trips.”
“Rule-breakers could be penalized by being assigned chores such as washing windows.”

If that’s what’s publicly known you’d better bet the reality is worse. This ministry the hallmarks of being abusive. Anywhere you have authoritarian Christians with total control over people...
Read 4 tweets
To determine who has the power with respect to a social phenomenon, ask who gets to talk about it, and who gets talked about.

When it comes to people leaving the church, Christian leaders get to talk about it.

Leavers get talked about.

That needs to change.

#EmptyThePews
If you want to change the power dynamics here, what can you do?

Elevate the voices of leavers yourself, and demand that leavers be represented in journalism and commentary.

Here's a piece that helps make the case:

religionnews.com/2020/01/29/giv…

#SundayMotivation #EmptyThePews
I've said nothing scares right-wing Christians more than declining church attendance and loss of the youth, but that's not quite right.

Nothing scares them more than us defectors getting a hearing for our own stories:



#SundayMotivation #EmptyThePews
Read 6 tweets
I will never grasp, on a visceral level, why any queer people stick with Christianity.

I get the mixed emotions, but why submit to being a theological problem to be solved?

Even progressive Christianity has to “justify” queerness.

I don’t need that baggage thankyouverymuch
An ethic of non-harm and reciprocity derived from experience, empirical knowledge, and common humanity instantly validates my existence as a queer person. No mental gymnastics; no hoop jumping.

Theology creates problems that just don’t need to exist without it

#EmptyThePews
I guess I just can’t imagine what Christianity could mean to me that would be worth the effort of constantly having to justify my existence in theological terms while knowing that most other Christians would reject my theology anyway. YMMV obviously
Read 3 tweets
This was the weirdest thing about missionary work in Russia. I knew so little about the country when i signed on for this mission trip that I thought it was still full of atheists.

Got there, and it was like, uh, are we here to convert Christians to Christianity?

#EmptyThePews
Of course, most evangelicals don’t consider Orthodoxy to be “real” Christianity, but I was already becoming “liberal” on matters like that. This was 1999, the year I graduated from high school
Read 3 tweets
Making people into projects is not okay just because you think your deity demands it. The phrase #NotYourMissionField is an expression of defiance that exposes missionary behavior for what it is—predatory, manipulative, almost always non-consensual.

#EmptyThePews
You may define me as your mission field, but there’s nothing you can do if I refuse to play the part, other than violence—which is clearly not legitimate and cannot make anyone truly adopt your faith.

And if you consistently violate my boundaries, I will cut you out of my life.
And I know of what I speak. Doing missionary work (and becoming disillusioned with it) is part of my #EmptyThePews story

Read 3 tweets
I want to take a moment to talk about my worst social bluffing moment as a Deaf person and how that eventually led me to #EmptyThePews

A thread:
When I came to Canada I had to come to the country under the guise of the church as an institute because legally I wasn't allowed in the country being a disabled person and all. The family that I stayed with owned (and still owns) a church that I was required to attend.
I had to go every Wednesday night, Friday night, Saturday night and twice on Sundays. Every week. On holidays it was more than that. I didn't have a choice. Every evening I was required to do an hour of Bible study.
Read 79 tweets
Leaving my fundamentalist/evangelical upbringing was the culmination of SO MANY THINGS. Here are a few. #EmptyThePews
1) Pernicious & aggressive authoritarian control of everything: Dress, speech, worship attendance, doctrinal belief, political perspectives, life choices.
2) My parents adoption of a sibling group from a foreign country who were in poverty *but had a living parent & grandparents* instead of using the same $ to lift that entire family out of poverty because "we need to save their souls."
3) Multiple experiences of childhood/teen sexual harrassment & inappropriate touching/kissing from adult men bc Christian sexual patriarchy = rape culture.
Read 12 tweets
1. Hey all, I try not to make these appeals too often, but I'm going to thread some of my recent achievements and ask you to support me via @Patreon, if you value my work and can afford to pay even just a few dollars a month for it:

patreon.com/cstroop

#FridayMotivation
@Patreon 2. I need your help to remain a full-time writer, speaker, commentator, and advocate, because as of yet, at least, those things bring in some money, but not enough to pay the bills.

First on the list of recent accomplishments of course is the #EmptyThePews anthology:
@Patreon 3. Most of you are aware that I coedited this essay collection with @laureneoneal, and that we worked on it for years to bring the project to fruition

amazon.com/gp/product/194…

What you may not know is that royalties will be paid quarterly and almost certainly won't pay the bills
Read 18 tweets
FYI I was super rebellious in Christian high school. Once we listened to Sarah McLachlan's "Surfacing" during a class government meeting.

Somebody narced, and after that secular music at student government meetings was banned 😂

I'm pretty sure I know who narced

#EmptyThePews
Full disclosure though: It wasn't my idea, and I was afraid we would get in trouble. But also I loved Sarah McLachlan and didn't raise any objections
PS. Yes I am being sarcastic when I say “super rebellious” 😂
Read 3 tweets
My latest, published with @RNS, highlights exvie responses to @cindy_w_brandt’s viral tweet and makes a case for the inclusion of trauma experts and survivors of authoritarian religious upbringings in discussions like the one Cindy sparked:

religionnews.com/2020/01/29/giv…

#EmptyThePews
I suggest reading this alongside @emmillerwrites’ coverage, which highlights conservative Christian and establishment responses:

religionnews.com/2020/01/14/tea…

And alongside @SikhProf’s piece on Christian supremacism, which still pervades religion journalism:

religionnews.com/2019/12/19/eva…
Shout-outs in my piece to @religioustrauma founders @RoomToThrive and @ms_elleanderson, who is quoted at some length. Thanks for your important work and for being a source for this piece!

#WednesdayMotivation #EmptyThePews
Read 3 tweets
But seriously folks, I'm super proud of @laureneoneal and @nikobakulich for this well-deserved positive podcast review in @Forbes!

If you never thought hilarity + Bible could be a thing, you owe it to yourself to give @sunschooldrop a try!

#WednesdayThoughts #EmptyThePews
@laureneoneal @nikobakulich @Forbes @sunschooldrop "Niko likes to compare it to Mystery Science Theater 3000 in that they weren’t making fun of bad movies because they hate bad movies, it comes from a place of love. 'We may not love every word of the Bible,' he says. 'But we have respect for it and I hope that becomes clear.'"
@laureneoneal @nikobakulich @Forbes @sunschooldrop "Recently Lauren co-edited an anthology of stories of people leaving or questioning their faith called Empty the Pews...

"Her story in the book wouldn’t have been possible without the perspective she gained from making the show and studying the Bible"

amazon.com/gp/product/194…
Read 3 tweets
One of the driving motives for me in creating the #EmptyThePews anthology with @laureneoneal was the hope that if we could show people who haven't lived it what oppressive Christianity is like, it might help the American public fight fundamentalism:

amazon.com/Empty-Pews-Sto…
@laureneoneal What so many Americans from liberal backgrounds fail to grasp about fundamentalism is that it is anti-pluralist and anti-democratic to its very core.

Fundamentalists do not play fair in democracy. They seek to destroy democracy and must be contained.

conversationalist.org/2019/11/14/if-…
@laureneoneal Either we manage to politically sideline Christian extremists, or we sacrifice America's democratic potential and future.

This is not a false dichotomy. The Christian Right will happily impose minority authoritarian rule. It's happening now, so stop coddling radical Christians.
Read 3 tweets
As @profagagne pointed out, #SatanicPregnancy in this context doesn't mean what people think it means. Paula wasn't calling on God to abort people's babies. This is just spiritual warfare talk. So let's get weird. 1/
I have wine now, so let's go down the rabbit hole of Evangelical fascination with spiritual warfare. It's a little (a lot) weird. 2/
First of all, let's get something straight. A lot of people find the whole miscarriage statement as asking for God to abort babies. Just stop. Evangelicals, as a rule, do not equate miscarriage with abortion. You ain't convincing nobody of nothing by saying God aborts babies. 3/
Read 25 tweets
Check out @PaulHRosenberg’s latest on the broad coalition working to expose and oppose Christian nationalism and to reclaim the original, pluralist understanding of religious freedom.

I’m proud to be quoted!

salon.com/2020/01/20/rel…

#MondayThoughts #EmptyThePews
And thanks, @PaulHRosenberg, for lining to @laureneoneal’s and my new anthology of personal essays by former conservative Christians, Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church!

amazon.com/Empty-Pews-Sto…

#Reading #EmptyThePews
*linking to
Read 3 tweets
To provide further motivation to help us break top 100 in Christian Theology, I’m giving away two autographed copies to two randomly selected readers who send proof they bought the book today or tomorrow to babylon.anthology@gmail.com (old working title):

Read 4 tweets
I’m excited to report that later today I’ll be recording for an episode of @sorrynotsorry with @Alyssa_Milano to discuss my story of growing up Christian Right, deconstructing evangelical indoctrination, and coming out as a trans woman.

And ofc also the #EmptyThePews anthology!
*coedited, not credited

Thanks, autocorrect 🙄
Read 3 tweets
There are critical voices--ex-evangelicals (aka exvies) and researchers and journalists who have thoroughly documented evangelical malfeasance.

Yet our major news outlets still mostly fail to acknowledge that the Christian Right is a serious threat to democracy.

#EmptyThePews
If you want to do something about it, demand that ex-evangelical voices and critical scholars and journalists be included in reporting on white evangelicals and the broader Christian Right.

Support our projects. Spread the word. Maybe 2020 will be the year we break through.
I'm hoping that Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church--@laureneoneal's and my new anthology of personal essays by former conservative Christians--will help to change the national conversation.

It can only do so with your help:

amazon.com/Empty-Pews-Sto…

#EmptyThePews
Read 12 tweets
And here's the thing. Evangelicals frequently use the verses in question, or even just the simple statement "God is in control," to deflect from any and all responsibility for the harm done by their actions.

#EmptyThePews
Here's how it works. Say you confront an evangelical about how their voting GOP means they've voted to take your rights away.

They will usually deflect initially with "BUT THE MILLIONS OF BABIES," by which they mean fetuses, who conveniently can never talk back.

#EmptyThePews
If that fails to appease you and you keep pressing, while they'll never admit to being wrong about "BUT ABORTION" justifying all the awful things that result from their Christian nationalist politics, they will likely play the trump card (so to speak) of "God is in control."
Read 4 tweets
I hope the LGBTQ-inclusive Methodists have the guts to proceed with an all-out schism if this proposal is voted down.

#EmptyThePews
I have never understood so many large Christian churches’ romanticized obsession with “the big tent” and “unity.” There is no real unity with people who dehumanize me. I want no part of any tent that includes them; that very act renders their emotions more important than my life.
Not that I want to belong to any religious denomination these days, but still.
Read 3 tweets
"That article from Christianity Today did not reflect an overall shift in evangelical politics. It reflects—as one New Yorker article calls it—'a more urban, internationalist, and broad-minded elite class within the evangelical movement.'”

gloriabethamodeo.com/blog/2020/1/2/…

#EmptyThePews
Here's the kicker

"If anything, it will only serve to draw progressive-minded city dwellers to evangelical churches that may be anti-Trump, but are also anti-LGBTQ+ marriage, and anti-abortion, and anti-female autonomy. Anti-any-belief-system-but-evangelical."

#FF @gloriousbeth
@gloriousbeth "It’s not a good thing. It could never be a good thing. But people aren’t as afraid of evangelicalism as they should be."
Read 3 tweets

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