Friday, February 19, 2010

Gina Welch

Gina Welch is the author of In the Land of Believers: An Outsider's Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church.

From a Q & A at her publisher's website:

Q: Why were you initially drawn to write a book about Evangelicals?

When I was a kid religion barely touched my life, and when it did, it delivered a neat, repulsive shock. I clamped my lips shut during the under God bit of the Pledge of Allegiance, and wrote anxious letters to my father when I felt I was being pressured to pray at summer camp.

Eventually I matured enough to tolerate the religious practices of others, just as long as they were willing to tolerate my resistance to the God stuff. What I couldn’t accommodate was what I perceived as rampant arrogance on the part of people who felt entitled to badger others into adopting their faith. Proselytizing struck me as not only arrogant but dangerous, in that it suggested a fundamental unwillingness to coexist with people who don’t share your narrative of the universe. I couldn’t help but notice that for Evangelicals, the most determined and numerous proselytizers around, that unwillingness to coexist was manifesting as legislation of faith.

When I moved to Virginia for graduate school, it wasn’t long before I realized I was squatting in Christian country. Naturally, I felt alien there, but I began to realize—with the Christian conservative-fueled reelection of George W. Bush and the ensuing media coverage of the whopping third of our country self-identifying as Evangelical—that my whole perception of our country as a secular place had canted to favor my experience. Our country was much more Evangelical than I’d ever realized, and I felt it critical to grapple in person with what that meant: What were Evangelicals like when they weren’t speaking into a microphone? What was it like in their churches? What was their vision for our shared future?

Q: Why did you choose to join Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church?

Jerry Falwell was one of the only Evangelicals...[read on]
Visit Gina Welch's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue