Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church

Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church Book Summary

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...

  • 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...

  • Gary  Beauregard Bottomley

    Everybody’s story is different. Some of the stories told in this book were as if I was being buried alive and couldn’t escape from the torturer since it seemed that the tortured have no mouth and ...

  • 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 ...

  • Michael Morgan

    I did enjoy this book, just as not much as I thought I would. I thought I would be able to relate to all of the essays more and I don’t know if it was just my privileged world view that lead me to t...

  • 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...

  • David

    A great collection of viewpoints on leaving faith behind.Here are some of my favorite passages:I say I have sloughed off religion like a diseased limb, like it is no longer of use to me, but that's no...

  • James Kingman

    Book Reccomendation: Empty the Pews.If you are either a lapsed member of a church, a present member confused and concerned by the diminishing youth membership, or simply interested in the effect of th...