Christians? What would the neighbors think?

A mother struggles with being both a Christian and a liberal academic—and it sounds like she’s embarrassed about it.

Here’s writer Christin Taylor in The New York Times: 

As I drove home from church, I eyed the bright foam sign my 6-year-old daughter held. “Jesus is Alive” it read in kid scrawl. “We’re supposed to put them in our yards!” Noelle beamed, eyeing her creation proudly through pink-rimmed glasses.

I imagined our wide, open yard in Pennsylvania, the green grass stretching without fences from one neighbor to the next. Our best friends in the neighborhood, secular humanists, would easily see it. I cringed. What would they think?

While Dwayne and I have never sought to conceal our faith — anyone who spends more than a couple of evenings with us will find out we’re Christians — we also don’t talk openly or easily about our backgrounds as missionary kids raised in the evangelical church.

We both work in higher education and run in circles that are highly educated and liberal. In our community, intellect is the only viable form of religion, and the fact that I’m a Christian calls into question my intellectual grit. When my colleagues find out, they are hard-pressed to reconcile the bright, open woman they see before them with the stereotypes they understand about evangelicals. You know the ones: judgmental, anti-intellectual, homophobic, which we are not.

We are the types of young adult Christians who love our faith, but who’ve moved slightly left of center. Just enough so that we have to keep our social and political views quiet in our faith communities. On the other hand, we have to tamp down the religious talk in our work and social communities. I am constantly negotiating how much of myself to share in either group.

Nothing embodies the tension I feel around integrating my identity into both these communities like Noelle’s first explorations with faith. She is extroverted and vocal in ways I am not brave enough to be. She is unselfconscious — completely unaware of the stereotypes that linger around conservative faith.

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