Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church

Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church Review

Twenty-one timely, affecting essays by those who survived hardline, authoritarian religious ideology and uprooted themselves from the reality-averse churches that ultimately failed to contain their spirits.

Winner of the 2019 Eos Award.

In this necessary and revealing anthology, Chrissy Stroop and Lauren O Neal collect original and previously published pieces about leaving Christianity. Examining the intersections of queerness, spiritual abuse, loss of faith, and the courage needed to leave one's religious community, these two social critics use a diverse collection of personal essays by apostates and survivors of religious trauma to boldly address the individual experiences and systemic dysfunction so common in conservative churches.

Following the 2016 election of President Trump, Stroop coined the hashtag #EmptyThePews on Twitter as a call to take a moral stance against the kind of fundamentalist, authoritarian, or otherwise conservative churches that helped bring about the current political situation and all its cruelty, division, and hate. The hashtag continues to circulate with the eye-opening and often heartbreaking stories of those who found the resolve to leave evangelical, Mormon, Catholic, and other religious communities. Empty the Pews continues this campaign by sharing the unflinchingly honest stories of those who escaped hardline religious ideology and how it failed to crush their spirits.

Contributions include essays from a diverse group of established and up-and-coming writers, including Garrard Conley, Lyz Lenz, Juliana Delgado Lopera, Carmen Maria Machado, Isaac Marion, Maud Newton, Julia Scheeres, Linda Tirado, and more, as well as a foreword by Frank Schaeffer, the former Christian Right leader turned trenchant critic.

A provocative anthology of undeniable importance and power, Empty the Pews reflects upon the disoriented worldview of harmful, narrow-minded religious ideologies and also offers a clear call to action: to those who refuse to be complicit in the bigotry and abuse present in so many churches, now is the time to empty the pews.

Title:Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church
Edition Language:English

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    Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church Reviews

  • Matthew Lloyd

    I read Empty the Pews at the end of last year, and I have been digesting it ever since, trying to figure out what to write in a review. My overall sense was of familiarity but in a less-intense settin...

  • Steve

    If you have chosen to believe in God, and you have chosen to be a Christian, particularly a conservative Christian, you owe it to yourself to read this book. I haven't read it all -- it's the sort of ...

  • Misty

    I felt something while reading these essays that I haven't really felt before as I make my way through a book: the fact that so much of this carried the heavy feeling of, "Wow, I could have written th...

  • Lydia

    I eagerly awaited this book for a long time. I can't say why in the past few years I've fallen down the exvangelical rabbit hole (other than my deep belief that they're responsible for ruining the cou...

  • Orphir

    Lots of wonderful, touching, poignant stories essays in this book. Some really really good stuff about accepting yourself for you who are above other considerations. And of course, the dull roar of ra...

  • David

    These are nicely written essays. The subject matter as a whole has only so much interest for me, but just because I don’t have much reason to debate for or against Christianity. I don’t really car...

  • Heidi Archer

    Excellent collection of essays and short memoir-like reflections on the trauma and baggage from being raised in a religious Christian context (mostly conservative/fundamentalist). In addition to how i...

  • LD

    What does it mean to shed a whole ideological system? What happens to your world when familiar ways of meaning-making are lost? These are the most compelling questions this anthology poses, and allows...

  • Lindsay

    Poignant, compelling, but above all: relatable. This book is a must-read for anyone deconstructing from Christianity; for anyone trying to make sense of themselves and the world around them without th...

  • Roger Bailey

    A very thoughtful collection. The authors within don't aim to offend and divide but show how their differences drove them to leave their churches. A good read for any person with or without faith who ...