Yes, People Are Leaving Evangelical Churches Due To Politics

This is the time of year when Christian Churches put on their finery and make a great show of the connection between what their beliefs and the reason that people are so joyful and full of anticipation. But this year there seems to be a disruption in their universe. All is not right inside the halls of America’s churches as we come up to their most public of feasts.

Wednesday Brandon Flanery posted an analysis at on what has become a a steady decline in Christianity in this country. Identification as a Christian in this country has gone from 90% of the population in 1972 to 64% in 2020. That is a significant change in just 50 years, so it is worth studying.

Flanery did some research and his findings were quite interesting. It is hard to boil his findings into small bits, but the major reason’s that former evangelicals give for reason revolved around the evangelical church commingling with politics that didn’t line up with the believers’ understanding of what their religion taught.

From the article:

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. Some responses:

When it came to the final reason for leaving – the straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak – evangelical churches support of Donald Trump jumped up to the #3 spot:

Trump: The last straw:

To better understand why people are leaving, it’s important to look at the final reason, what the survey referred to as “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” While much of the data remains the same, it’s important to note that one reason moved from seventh place to third: politics.

For many respondents, politics is what finally motivated them to leave Christianity. Specifically, many referenced the election of Donald Trump and the support he received from the evangelical community. In fact, the name “Trump” was mentioned 81 times in the survey responses as a key reason someone left Christianity. For example, these were some respondents’ experiences:

In an analysis of the research done by Brandon Flanery, signalpress (couldn’t find the name of the author) lays it out in two simple paragraphs:

In Flannery’s research, he discovered that the inconsistency between what Jesus defined as “loving your neighbor” and how most churches treat people who are different, including LGBTQ persons, immigrants, women and women’s rights activists, and civil rights advocates (those criticized by the conservative religious right as “liberal, woke”) as the primary reasons why people are leaving churches and leaving the Christian faith altogether.  The term “politics” shows up in his research as one of those reasons, specifically the use of the Confederate flag as a racist symbol, and all of the baggage, including the racism and anti-Semitism, immoral worldliness and the manipulation of Christian faith and the scripture by Trumpism as a manipulation tool to get people to conform to ideals that have nothing to do with the gospel.

I find it specifically aggravating to see Christians insist that marrying their faith experience to Trumpism, based on the abortion issue alone, while ignoring the fact that Trump is not a Christian at all, but an adulterous, womanizing, sexist, racist, greedy opportunist who denies the conservative definition of “salvation by grace through faith in Christ” because he claims he has no need for repentance and has done nothing for which he must ask forgiveness.  That’s a faith of convenience and cultural acquiescence, not one defined by Biblical principle based on the gospel of Jesus Christ.  No wonder people are leaving that, there’s no substance there at all.  I left one of those churches myself.  Finding one that still sticks to the Christian gospel isn’t easy these days, and I understand why people just give up trying.

I bring this up not to be grave dancing during Christmas. I bring it up because one of Iowa’s far right Republican senators, Joni Ernst (make no doubt about it she is far right) was censured by six local Republican parties for her vote for the Respect of Marriage Act.   

These local parties cited “[H]omosexuality clearly violates the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, the source of our rights,” the Des Moines County Republicans wrote in their censures.. This leaves little doubt that these censures were inspired by the far right mix of politics and religion that is in turn driving real people out of the door of the churches and causing them to reassess their politics.

For good measure the Des Moines County Republicans are also trying to find a primary candidate to oppose Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

The Founders were right to do all they could to decouple politics and religion. Now the biggest booster of this marriage opolitics and religion are seeing it backfire on them big time as religion continues to atrophy into irrelevance as it has done in Europe.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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