Since the 2016 presidential election in particular, America has witnessed the increasing visibility of ex-evangelicals (also known as exvangelicals or "exvies"), who, disgusted with the "uniquely conservative ," largely white evangelical subculture from which we came, have been connecting with one another in efforts both to foster healing from religious trauma and to expose evangelicalism's authoritarian nature in an effort to fight back against the anti-democratic onslaught coming from Trump and his (mostly white evangelical and traditionalist Catholic) base. Coming along in the wake of a number of relevant podcasts, viral hashtag campaigns--#EmptyThePews, #ChurchToo, #ChristianAltFacts, #HowToEvangelical, #RaptureAnxiety, #BeingExvangelical, and others--have served both these goals. Exvangelicals have been covered in outlets like Splinter News, Salon, and Newsweek.
Many of us have been working on plans for more offline meetings, events, and community building initiatives, and that's what this GoFundMe campaign is about. The Exvangelical Community: Paths, Projects, Prospects will be a panel discussion, open to the public, held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 8, 2018, at the following location:
St. Petersburg College, Clearwater Campus
2465 Drew St, Room ES104
Clearwater, FL 33765
The organizers hope will serve both as a model for the types of offline events that will prove valuable for exvies and our allies, and also as a forum for discussion of what community building, locally, nationally, and internationally, could look like going ahead.
The panel discussion's MC will be Blake Chastain, host of the Exvangelical Podcast, and will feature exvangelical writer, scholar and Twitter personality Christopher Stroop, responsible homeschooling advocate and policy researcher Kathryn Brightbill, journalist David Wheeler, and outspoken former highly involved Southern Baptist Akiko Ross. After each panelist speaks to their own experience with living and leaving evangelicalism and their thoughts about building exvangelical community, historian and author Dr. Julie Ingersoll, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Florida, will place the discussion in historical context, after which Blake Chastain will field questions and facilitate discussion with audience participation.
This event will be recorded and released as a special episode of the Exvangelical Podcast, so that the discussion can reach those unable to make it to the Tampa Bay Area.
Here are the costs we need covered to make this event a reality:
$400 to rent the space at St. Petersburg College. The room we have reserved holds up to 100 people.
$150 to have a poster designed to promote the event. The artist, exvangelical Liz Ghent, is already working on the design.
$750 for airfare and transportation costs for Blake (coming from Chicago) and Chris (coming from Indianapolis).
$100 for lunch at the conclusion of the event, offered to us at cost by Tampa Bay local and former evangelical pastor Bryan Fyock, whose new restaurant specializing in meatballs, The Ball Joint , will be opening in Apollo Beach soon.
$100 for overnight accommodations for Blake and Chris.
Anything raised in excess of the $1500 needed to cover these expenses will be used to pay an honorarium to each of the panel discussion participants. We hope to be able to finance the event via GoFundMe so that we can avoid having to ask for donations at the door, which may be triggering to some ex-evangelicals due to the resemblance to tithing or what is known as a "love offering" in evangelical subculture.
We organizers and panel discussion participants will be immensely grateful for your support in helping us pull off this exvangelical event. By doing so, you will not only help to bring exvangelicals together "in real life," a valuable and healing experience in itself, but will also help exvies to gain increased visibility and to further strategize about how we can use our voices and our experience to push back against the Christian Right's theocratic assault on American democracy. Any amount helps, and thank you very much for your interest in and support of the exvangelical community!