ANNOUNCING: Do I Stay Christian? (May 2022)

Coming May 24, 2022: When my first book came out back in 1998, you didn’t hear words like “deconstruction,””exvangelical,” and “postChristian” as part of everyday conversation. But over the last 20+ years, we’ve witnessed a sea-change in the Christian community, here in the US and in many other places as well.

Over these years, we’ve seen the Religious Right become more strident and powerful, creating alliances with white supremacists, climate change deniers, and more recently, anti-masker/anti-vaxxer insurrectionists.

We’ve seen parallel trendlines of decline emerging among Roman Catholics, Mainline Protestants, and Evangelicals/ Charismatics/ Fundamentalists/ Pentecostals, as increasing numbers of younger Christians drop out of their parents’ traditional expressions of Christianity.

We’ve seen repeated reports of sexual scandals and revelations of widespread sexual abuse and coverup that have eroded the moral authority of Christian leaders in the minds of everyone except many of those leaders themselves. And we’ve watched those same leaders further squander their dwindling reserves of moral authority as they lined up to support — or refused to denounce — big lies, wild conspiracy theories, authoritarian conmen, anti-science fantasies, and other expressions of moral and intellectual decay.

Along the way, we’ve seen the curtain pulled back on surprising numbers of megachurch pastors, exposing them as power-hungry, money-hungry, narcissistic, and abusive behind the scenes. As a result, more and more of the religious industrial complex looks more and more like a big scam.

Over these two decades, more LGBTQ people came out of the closet. Gay marriage became legal. For women, glass ceilings began to shatter across our culture — albeit slowly. Yet large percentages of Christians doubled down on male domination and LGBTQ stigmatization. Similarly, as thousands of us took to the streets to assert the dignity of Black, Asian, Indigenous, and other people of color’s lives, many of these same Christians showed that they were more interested in preserving white supremacy than dismantling it.

As a result, staying Christian feels increasingly compromised, even dirty, a cover for siding with regressive attitudes and perpetuating systems of harm.

But this depressing picture is not the whole story.  Just as a dark night makes the stars shine bright, hopeful signs of spiritual renaissance are popping up across the Christian landscape … among a small but growing number of pastors, priests, scholars, writers, activists, nuns, friars, popes (!), and other leaders, and also among simple, down-to-earth, good-hearted people for whom Jesus’ core message of revolutionary love has become a guiding light for daily life.

Some have found or formed creative faith communities where they can walk a new path of deeper contemplation, spiritual activism, and more expansive theology. Others have dropped the Christian label while becoming more Christ-like than they’ve ever been in their day-to-day way of life.

So here we are. Millions of us are asking the question, “Do I stay Christian?”

Frankly, I am among them. Some days, I think the “brand” of Christianity is unsalvageable, and I suspect that the religion’s ugliest, most dangerous days are ahead of us, so it’s best to get out now. Other days, I think things may finally be getting bad enough that more Christians will be ready to face and embrace the changes we need, so I should stay in the struggle as an insider.

That’s why I wrote this book, Do I Stay Christian?

In Part 1, I answer the title’s question with a firm “No.” I survey the ten strongest reasons I’ve encountered to leave the faith. In Part 2, “Yes,” I explore ten reasons why some Christians are choosing to stay, even in light of the problems we faced in Part 1. Then in Part 3, I ask the question “How?” — whether we stay or go, how are we going to live?

When I saw the beautiful cover art by Young Jin Lim, I felt that in a few simple lines, he had captured the emotion that many of us feel. Is it time for us to migrate away from Christianity entirely? Or is it possible for at least some forms of Christianity to experience a breakthrough and evolve into something the world needs and we need?

Taken together, Faith After Doubt (January 2021) and Do I Stay Christian? (May 2022) provide an overview of my work over these last 20+ years.  I hope you will find both books helpful — for your own spiritual journey, and also for those you love.

Faith After Doubt is available now, and Do I Stay Christian? is available for pre-order. They would make great Christmas gifts to give or receive for those with “ears to hear” and “eyes to see.”


Here’s the Table of Contents for Do I Stay Christian?

Introduction: A Religion Is Many Things

Part I: No

1. Because Christianity Has Been Vicious to Its Mother (Anti-Semitism)

2. Because of Christianity’s Suppression of Dissent (Christian vs. Christian Violence)

3. Because of Christianity’s High Global Death Toll—and Life Toll (Crusader Colonialism)

4. Because of Christianity’s Loyal Company Men (Institutionalism)

5. Because of Christianity’s Real Master (Money)

6. Because of the White Christian Old Boys’ Network (White Patriarchy)

7. Because Christianity Is Stuck (Toxic Theology)

8. Because Christianity Is a Failed Religion (Lack of Transformation)

9. Because of Christianity’s Great Wall of Bias (Constricted Intellectualism)

10. Because Christianity Is a Sinking, Shrinking Ship of Wrinkling People (Demographics)

Part II: Yes

11. Because Leaving Hurts Allies (and Helps Their Opponents)

12. Because Leaving Defiantly or Staying Compliantly Are Not My Only Options

13. Because . . . Where Else Would I Go?

14. Because It Would Be a Shame to Leave a Religion in Its Infancy

15. Because of Our Legendary Founder

16. Because Innocence Is an Addiction, and Solidarity Is the Cure

17. Because Im Human

18. Because Christianity Is Changing (for the Worse and for the Better)

19. To Free God

20. Because of Fermi’s Paradox and the Great Filter

Part III: How

21. Include and Transcend

22. Start with the Heart

23. Re-Wild

24. Find the Flow

25. Re-Consecrate Everything

26. Renounce and Announce

27. Stay Loyal to Reality

28. Stay Human



Appendix I: How to Get the Most Out of This Book

Appendix II: Images You Can’t Unsee (Addendum to Chapter 2)

Appendix III: Do I Stay in My Denomination?

Appendix IV: A Letter to Pastors (Addendum to Chapter 26)

Appendix V: Additional Resources