Raised Evangelical: My Story

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a riveting blog called Love, Joy, Feminism. The blog’s author, Libby Anne, was raised in a fundamentalist Quiverfull community. She has since left that community and uses her blog to draw attention to dangerous, counterproductive heresies and rituals within Christian fundamentalism. Although she is now a self-avowed atheist, she treats these topics with profound understanding and insight. She has a series of posts on the Quiverfull movement, another series on Vision Forum and Debi Pearl, another on the Purity Movement, and so forth. (If all this sounds like Greek to you, fall to your knees and thank God! Then check out her blog.)

One particular series of hers caught my eye: Raised Evangelical. It’s a confessional for people who have left fundamentalism–a place where people can share their experiences and reflect on how they were raised in hardline evangelical communities. After reading a few stories, I decided to share mine. I filled out the multiple-page survey and sent it in. My story, “April’s Story,” appeared on the blog yesterday. This represents the first public confession of my life within fundamentalism. If you thought my faith experience was unique in its honesty…just wait.

Since its posting yesterday, my story has already been shared 17 times on Facebook and Tweeted 18 times. It makes me nervous; I revealed some very personal things about my family in that survey. But I shared it hoping that it will help someone else to see the destructive teachings some churches have adopted–and that leaving fundamentalism doesn’t mean leaving Christianity.

Let me know your reactions and thoughts in the comments.

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13 responses to “Raised Evangelical: My Story

  1. April, I very much enjoyed your story and am sorry for the negativity you experienced within the fundamentalist, evangelical movement. I think you’re a wonderful person and enjoy your blog so much. Thanks for leading us to Libby’s blog and I will continue to read through it, though I am not atheist. I very much enjoy learning why atheists think as they do and am fond of many, despite our differences.

    • Thanks for reading. I have several atheist/agnostic friends as well and have very insightful conversations with them. I have enjoyed Libby’s blog so much since discovering it; she hosts many guest bloggers who write with great passion and intelligence. Libby, unfortunately (IMO), supports abortion and a few other things I don’t agree with, but otherwise has some very powerful and relevant things to say.

  2. April, thanks for sharing. I read pretty much all of your post. I’ll explore my experience more on my blog as time pasts but I would say I came out of “Legalism” and not “Fundamentalism”. I grew up Seventh Day Adventist, I’m sure you’ve heard of the denomination. I would say there are fundamentalist Adventists but we were legalistic in that we kept the Sabbath but we weren’t saved and our family was broken. But I’ve come to a place of balance which is where I think you are and forgiveness and I’ve learned these things(all things I have blog drafts for but haven’t posted..lol):

    -I’m grateful to my mom and the SDA church because she introduced me to Christ
    -Works/Legalism/Fundamentalism can happen at an individual level even if a church doctrine doesn’t require much actions because the works/legalism/fundamentalism is a spirit that attacks the heart
    -Apologetics should be taught and known to all Christians and our youth need to know why they believe and we need not be intimidated by science, philosophy, or the new atheists. Questions by our children should be welcome and they shouldn’t be made to feel that true faith is a lack of questions and have to hide their doubt.
    -At even a high level Church History and World Religions should be understood by our youth
    -Unless a church has a meta-belief of Ecumenism and sees the Church as a body(1 Cor 12:12-30) you risk fundamentalism and legalism. If you think that the sum of your church’s theology, way of worship, gifts, and culture is the true church and you enjoy evangelizing to Christians and non-Christians then you risk fundamentalism. I’m not talking postmodern interfaith pluralism but Christian intra-faith unity with any one that agrees with say the 5 solas.
    -Youth need to know the difference between Culture and Canon. Canon says that we worship God in spirit and truth(John 4:24). Culture says church A sings hymns and church B uses drums. The measure should be weather or not the music is in spirit and truth and glorifies God say versus just want to fleshly get attention. The issue shouldn’t be that there aren’t any hymns.
    -We can’t make conclusions about people’s love of God because of who they vote for. I voted republican but I don’t think that democratic Christians don’t love God, it’s more complex than that.

    Oh I have one question for you, you mention that you still research on eternal damnation. Do you mean the reality of hell or that those who never profess Christ won’t be in heaven? I have 2 pending posts on this.Lol. One thing I must say is that in a legalistic/fundamentalists/works framework you will be more anti-hell than pro-heaven and there is a big difference and your whole relationship will God will be love based more than fear based. I think sometimes anti-hell is preached.

    -have a great day!, Zan

      • Thanks for sharing your earlier post. I just read it..Thorough and developed and I am in agreement. Particularly this part: “he and the rest of the church clearly favored the young people who sought ministry degrees at approved Christian colleges.” I don’t see a dramatic benefit in Christian higher education. I see a huge argument for it for kindergarten through college. But after that the Christian colleges are just like secular colleges. Parents feel more secure at Christian colleges because of a belief that their child won’t have much exposure to drugs and sex but it’s the same in that regard. College is the ultimate litmus test of your’e child’s proactivity and personal motivation. If that is a concern then I think a child isn’t ready for college..but I digress.

  3. This is a reaction to your comment on Rebecca T’s blog re child-raising… [It would have been an email if you’d left a ‘contact me’ address.]

    One of the best books I’ve found on this — despite it’s being addressed to people suffering some of the effects of ADD, or having children in that condition, is this one: http://www.scatteredminds.com/about.htm (which I hope you can find in your local library.)

    What’s good about this is that his approach is not about changing behavior, but about putting the emphasis on a good, connected relationship with the kid, letting the behavior flow from that basis. (Which is maybe what God has been trying to get through people’s heads about divine/human interactions…?)

    Anyway, a lot of troublesome parenting/growing-up issues these days are resulting (not from any fault of the parent, but) from the harsh & uncertain conditions the parents are having to deal with, the unavoidable separations & emotional distancing those entail. He’s good on the many ways that can affect people, and how best to recover. (There are a couple of chapters available on the site to let you see if any of this applies to you, as it did to me…)

    [Feel free to delete this if it doesn’t apply!]

    • Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check out the link. While I don’t have an email address posted, I do have a contact form on my contact page. It goes straight to my email. 🙂