White Evangelical Christians voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election. Attempting to explain this odd political alignment has since become an obsession among American writers.
Lyz Lenz is uniquely qualified to comment on this topic. A life-long Christian, Lenz and her husband began attending Evangelical churches in the 1990s, and helped form an independent church in the early 2000s. This was also the time Lenz began voicing her uneasiness with the Evangelical movement’s attitudes towards women, race, and politics. Her husband didn’t approve of her positions, and in 2016 she voted for Clinton while he went in with Trump, a political split which prefigured their imminent divorce.
Lenz’ 2019 book is part investigative journalism, part memoir, with the latter being its strength. The author doesn’t reach many unique conclusions about Evangelicals — as stated earlier, the topic has been covered extensively over the past several years — but her personal journey is compelling. Perhaps the most riveting moment comes in an early chapter, when she and her husband confront a pastor about the conduct of another pastor. The pastor apologizes to Lenz’ husband, but when she insists the apology needs to be offered to her, the pastor replies “I did apologize to you when I apologized to your husband.” It’s one of several indignities documented by the author in her last ten years as an Evangelical.
Given her experience, it’s easy to see how the author would eventually abandon her faith. It’s during a Holy Saturday service towards the end of the book where Lenz finds her reason for remaining a believer:
I believe in church because whatever else, it’s an intentional community of people trying to do good in a world that could use more of it.
There are enough moments like this to make this a memorable work.