We clung so hard to preserving life. Now I want to fling my arms
wide and consume it with abandon.

Image by Gisela Merkuur from Pixabay

The post-vaccine fever and aches deep in my bones lifted just as swiftly as they came.

Last week I received my second dose of the Pfizer Covid vaccine in a convention center that was the model of efficiency: a quick phone scan check-in, masked strangers wearing reflective vests and holding orange traffic wands directed masked and socially-distanced people into a set of queues blocked off by rope and cones. There were just enough of us showing up in our time slot to populate part of one line. We got to the front in about a minute, were told which numbered…

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People who identify as ‘nones,’ or nonreligious, are one of the fastest-growing groups in America

campWomen praying at an evangelical church in Oakland, California. Photo: Michelle Vignes/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Deirdre Sugiuchi was five when her dad became a born-again Christian. She grew up bouncing between Mississippi churches: Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian Church in America. (“The hardcore version,” she says.) They attended twice a day on Sundays, each Wednesday, plus any revival. She went to school at segregation academies, and had to fight with her father to be allowed to wear pants.

Sugiuchi attended a Focus on the Family-associated church camp where she was taught how to write letters to influence members of Congress. She describes her father’s version of discipline, corporal punishment during which he’d quote scripture — spare the…

Illustration: Paul Spella

The Conversation

Anthea Butler explains how racism has been essential to growing the power of white evangelical Christians

Evangelicalism is having a moment of reckoning. What once seemed like a conservative, Christian way of life became so baldly entangled with President Donald Trump, and so obviously detached from its espoused morality, that many followers are now leaving their churches. Those still on the inside are trying to see a movement they still love for other reasons, more clearly. And those on the outside are trying to grasp why Christians were willing to excuse Trump’s speech and actions against women and immigrants and his easy embrace of racism.

While evangelicals defended the movement by pointing to those in their…

A new academic study looks at the shame gendered by a religious system of enforced masculinity

Screenshot courtesy of the author

In a tweet, social scientist Samuel L. Perry posed a thesis: Evangelical subculture fosters masculine insecurity, especially when it comes to a self-perception of penis size. “But how to study penis insecurity?” Perry wrote. If you tried to survey people, he thought, everyone would lie. “But NOBODY lies to Google.”

This month, Perry and Andrew L. Whitehead, sociologists from University of Oklahoma and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis respectively, published a study in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (JSSR) in which they found the preponderance of evangelicals in a given state consistently predicts greater numbers of Google searches…

The Christian influencer and Bible teacher has been a towering figure among evangelicals willing to criticize Trump

Living Proof Ministries, February 28, 2020. Screenshot: Living Proof Ministries

Beth Moore fills a commanding niche in women’s evangelical circles. She has nearly a million Twitter followers; she runs Living Proof Ministries, a Texas-based Bible organization for women; she has headlined sports-arena-sized conferences; and she hosts a television show.

Moore is a petite, blonde, Southern belle with an Arkadelphia, Arkansas, folksiness and a televangelist’s urgency. She’s charming, self-deprecating, and can with conviction call Satan a liar and Donald Trump an example of “gross entitlement & power.” …

The walls were closing in, the Zoom had lost its charm. After a year as a working parent, all I needed was a room of my own.

Photo: gremlin/Getty

We’re creeping toward a strange anniversary, the day in March when our governor was the first in the country to close schools, and I felt my blood pressure swelling to a pound at the back of my skull. I’m a freelance writer, and I’ve been patchworking contracts and gigs since my daughter’s birth nearly eight years ago.

Back when she was two months old, I was ready to end the maternity leave I’d given myself and discovered my planned regular writing assignment had evaporated when my editor was laid off. Once I did start landing new gigs, it felt like…

Pastors tend to the spiritual needs of their congregations. Conspiracy theories have made their jobs a lot harder.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who identifies as Christian, has embraced QAnon conspiracy theories. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images.

Vicar Derek Kubilus, a United Methodist pastor, has one of those voices — knowing but full of levity. When we attended church camp together as teenagers, I often wondered if he was telling a joke I didn’t quite understand. Today, I hear a matured version of this voice on his podcast, Cross Over Q, which offers healing for QAnon followers and family members from a Christian perspective. …

On YouTube, charismatic prophets are hurrying to reframe their failure for disillusioned followers

Image: Jeremiah Johnson Ministries/YouTube

After a year mangled by shattering uncertainty, political upheaval, and plague, it sure would be nice to have a safe bet, a window into the future, an omniscient someone pointing the way through.

Over the past year, psychics and tarot card readers saw a boom in business— so did a serious uptick in complaints of fraudulent psychics and spiritual advisors to AARP’s helpline. Astrologers’ grew their $2.2 billion industry, kicked off with a spike in Google searches for “coronavirus astrology” last March. There’s the malarkey of QAnon, set down by their prophet, Q. …

Yes, it could feel performative. But protest during the Trump years provided me with the civic training to undo the damage.

Demonstrators attend the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017. Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

Four years ago, I packed a small bag and prepared to captain a charter bus from my home in Ohio to Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March. I don’t knit and didn’t have one of the pink hats that so many women were wearing that day. I felt the hats acknowledged sexual assault but also somehow made light of it in a way I couldn’t quite articulate at the time. I wasn’t one among the many who made their worried hands busy, knot by knot, trying to symbolize the affront to women’s bodies that Trump’s callous words and actions epitomized.

Donald Trump mocked disability. His presidency made us more vulnerable, but I’ll hold onto the strength earned surviving his term.

Curly haired woman viewed from over her shoulder, cupping her face in her hands.
Curly haired woman viewed from over her shoulder, cupping her face in her hands.
Photo Negar Mohamadian

It can be hard to measure how much each of us absorbs due to harmful leadership, but the poison certainly expands as it radiates outward. I was not the reporter with a disability whom Donald Trump mocked, but I received my portion of the scorn he cast at journalists generally. “Enemy of the state” I learned to eye roll. His flapping arm impersonation is burned in my brain.

I’ve lived these past few years in an awkward straddle. My work lives in words, jotting down what strangers tell me about their lives, fact-checking claims, sorting through my own observations, and…

Sarah Stankorb

Sarah Stankorb is a contributor to GEN. Other works in The Washington Post, Marie Claire, Glamour, O, and The Atlantic. @sarahstankorb www.sarahstankorb.com

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