Who are the exvangelicals? Experts on the exodus from white American evangelicalism

Man walks in field with chapel in the background.
Deconstruction, religious trauma and spiritual abuse — the exodus from white American evangelicalism.

Coined by Blake Chastain in 2016, the term “exvangelical” — or “exvie” — has come to encompass a wide range of individuals who have left evangelicalism, especially white evangelical churches in the U.S. 

Skeptical of institutions and unimpressed with status quo American Christianity, some have turned their back on religion. Others actively campaign against what they see as its abuses. Still others adopt more progressive versions of Christianity or simply do not self-identify as “evangelical” any longer, opting instead to go on a quest of self-discovery and deconstruction. Through hashtags such as #emptythepews, popular TikTok channels and a range of new platforms and publications, they are leaving loud, speaking out against evangelicalism on matters of politics, gender and race.

This edition of ReligionLink provides you with a range of resources and potential sources to cover how American Christianity’s traumas and political entanglements have triggered a crisis of faith for many.

Background reading

Various outlets have covered and captured the exvangelical scene over the last few years — 2018 was even dubbed “the year of the exvangelicals.” In 2021, the loosely linked movement received more mainstream coverage. Alongside this renewed interest in exvangelicals, discussions around adverse religious experiences, racial justice, spiritual abuse and deconstruction are getting louder within U.S. Christianity. Evangelical leaders and institutions are doing serious soul-searching about what this means for their flocks and broader cultural influence.

The resources below will get you caught up on the conversation so far.

Related research

Data on exvangelicals is still sparse and in-depth research is just beginning. Here are some studies and reports that address some of the preliminary facts, figures, and potential futures for the burgeoning demographic:

Potential experts and sources

Additional resources

Beyond the above, there are numerous podcasts, social media profiles, and other popular sources that are made by, or discuss the relevance of, exvangelicals. Here are a few: