Religion Unplugged

Boo! Just in time for Halloween, five frightening headlines about evangelicals

By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion Unplugged

Editor’s note: Every Friday, “Weekend Plug-in” features analysis, fact checking and top headlines from the world of faith. Subscribe now to get this newsletter delivered straight to your inbox. Got feedback or ideas? Email Bobby Ross Jr. at

Here’s a scary thought: Who wants to dress up as an evangelical for Halloween?

Except, exactly what would that look like?

Would it involve wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat? Or does the term still have any religious and/or theological meaning left?

Those questions came to mind as I perused some of the week’s big religion stories — both news reports and major analytical takes.

Here are five such headlines that caught my attention:

1. Why ‘evangelical’ is becoming another word for Republican: “Instead of theological affinity for Jesus Christ, millions of Americans are being drawn to the evangelical label because of its association with the G.O.P.,” Ryan Burge, a frequent contributor to, writes in an opinion piece for the New York Times.

2. In a post-Trump world, these pastors are ditching the evangelical label for something new: “They looked to each other to ask, What could it look like to organize as ‘post-evangelicals?’” religion writer Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports for the Washington Post. “They had at least one thing in common: They were all on some journey of deconstruction, the process of reexamining their long-held beliefs, and they wanted to participate in reconstruction and the building up of something new.”

3. The evangelical divide: “Political and social issues are splintering American Christians. Can the Church find unity?” asks part one of a three-part series by World magazine senior reporter Sophia Lee.

4. The evangelical church is breaking apart: “As a person of the Christian faith who has spent most of my adult life attending evangelical churches, I wanted to understand the splintering of churches, communities, and relationships,” contributing writer Peter Wehner explains in The Atlantic. “I reached out to dozens of pastors, theologians, academics, and historians, as well as a seminary president and people involved in campus ministry. All voiced concern.”

5. ‘The Liberty Way’: How Liberty University discourages and dismisses students’ reports of sexual assaults: “The school founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell ignored reports of rape and threatened to punish accusers for breaking its moral code,” former students allege in this in-depth investigative report by ProPublica’s Hannah Dreyfus. ‘”An official who says he was fired for raising concerns calls it a ‘conspiracy of silence.’”

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online magazine Religion Unplugged.

Halloween photo via Shutterstock

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