An Open Letter to White Evangelicals

An Open Letter to White Evangelicals March 20, 2021
Please understand that my tone is not angry.  But, I am resolute.  It’s a not a time to bunker down.  It’s a time to start talking, so I want to be precisely clear when I express what I am disturbed by.  To be perfectly clear, I see most of the issues that trouble our world originating inside of organized religion.  It’s time for change.  The 500 year garage sale is already underway.  These are my thoughts.
To the white, evangelical church and especially my heritage (the SBC):
If you want me to recognize your validity:
1. Take a strong stand against racism and publicly admit your past mistakes.  Systemic Racism is the issue, if you don’t understand it, don’t comment.  There are several books you could read or perhaps have a long conversation with a black person or person of color.  Be prepared, they are getting tired of explaining it to you!
2.  Accept and understand the rights of women to speak and lead at all levels, stop demoting and abusing women and calling it Biblical.  A pithy few statements in Scripture and a misogynistic tradition doesn’t validate this tragedy that needs to end.  We have missed the voices that could have saved us and it’s past time to embrace equality.
3.  Make a strong statement about public inclusiveness of LGBTQ people.  Who a person loves as an adult is literally none of your business.  Spending an unusually high amount of energy as a group persecuting people you don’t agree with is what Jesus talked about a lot while he was here.  Simply accept people as they are!  Period!
4.  Give up your idols of religion and bibliolatry.  Organized religion is probably on it’s way out, if it’s not already dead.  We can do the things we hoped religion would do for a fraction of the money and make it 10 times more effective outside the walls of the institution.  But, we have to give up the idea that we are right and that people have to come to our place to get the right answers.  The Bible very simply is a collection of man’s thoughts about God from a specific timeframe.  It may “useful,” like Paul said, but to make it into something it’s not (like we have done) only creates more trauma and confusion.
5.  Address the sexual misconduct fiercely of all your leaders, youth pastors and congregants.  We waged a war with the purity culture and now are experiencing the fallout of telling the men they can’t control themselves and it’s all the women’s fault.  At the same time, we told women their bodies were not their own and heaped shame on all those involved because we needed to control.  All the while religious leaders routinely were abusing, molesting and traumatizing men, women and children.  Stop sweeping it under the rug and really address it.
6.  Stop supporting any hate-based leaders like Donald Trump. Don’t lash out at me about this, really contemplate it, you have to see it!  People like this have no fruit of the spirit and are not anything like Christ.  Why would you follow them blindly just because they help your 401K and support the anti-abortion movements.  The needle hasn’t moved on abortion in 40 years and it’s not the only issue.  I don’t care which party you vote for, but you can’t vote for a party just so “our guy” can win.  I know we like bullies if they’re on our team, but I think Jesus did the opposite of that.  He stood up for the marginalized, he didn’t egg on the bullies.
7.  If you can’t address the systemic brokenness of organized religion, don’t invite me to church or try to save me.  I am not lost, I’m only wondering and wandering.  I am finding deep truths and lasting peace and even healing from my religious trauma.  Don’t single me out as the exception.   Every day, more people are joining me here.  I’d rather be alone as an introvert, but it’s encouraging to see people finding something real.  We didn’t slide down a slippery slope or plunge into evil.  We watched with horror as the capitol was sieged by mostly church people — we weren’t there.  We didn’t listen to the lies and the hate speech.  Stop looking outside your organization for the “demons,” they are within.
Again, PLEASE understand my tone is not angry, but it is resolute. We are indeed in a post-Christian world.  But, the white, evangelical world has no one to blame but themselves. Don’t get mad at the “dones” and “nones” for following their heart and pursuing greater truth.  If you are unwilling to change and still believe you have ultimate truth, then please turn off the lights when you finally leave. I’ll say “hi” to Beth Moore for you here in the desert.
Be where you are, be who you are,
Karl Forehand
About Karl Forehand
Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and the soon-to-be released Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary and Too Many Podcasters podcasts. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply! You can read more about the author here.

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16 responses to “An Open Letter to White Evangelicals”

  1. Agreed. But this won’t work. Conservatives aren’t capable of humanity towards others. Religions are inherently pro-conservative so it allows conservatives to be vicious to fellow humans.

    I mean, surely one of these christians noticed and thought about why men are incapable of sexual control to the point that women must modify their behavior BUT that men are somehow superior to women. This doesn’t make sense. Why should the gender that cannot control itself have any power? Shouldn’t women be in charge and men serve?

    I think the evangelicals will double down. In 50 years, if we survive, they’ll pretend they were always pro-lgbt. They’ll just lie like they usually do. I mean, they hated MLK Jr. Now, they quote him so they can silence BLM.

  2. Your thinking is articulated very well, and you are not alone. I would just point out that the issues we have with the White Evangelicals are not unique. Much of the same can be said of the entirety of organized religion. My Power has led me to wander as well, and I have gravitated into a purer form of faith that is not construed by man. It is faith in its natural state. It is in and around us and everything we experience. It is Love manifested as Energy

  3. Love your article and I sent this to my siblings as most of them are staunch Catholic and Trumpers.

  4. The premise of your whole letter is nonsense on stilts. Badgering a teenager in to picking their laundry off of the floor works because the teenager generally agrees with the premise that it’s better to have laundry in the hamper than on the floor. White evangelicals are not teenagers procrastinating at the unpleasant but necessary job of being good liberals. They genuinely do not agree with your premises, any of them. It’s time to stop telling yourself that you are helping by writing letters like this. You aren’t.

  5. This article just had me shaking my head. Is this what so-called “unity” looks like? Demonizing an entire segment of the American population for having beliefs that are more conservative than the norm? Why don’t you go out of your way to criticize Muslims and Orthodox Jews who, for the most part, hold to the traditional understanding that sexual acts and relationships outside of the bounds of heterosexual marriage are sinful? Oh I know! It is because they aren’t “privileged”.

  6. Thanks for your thoughts and honesty. I am not of the same mind on all of these ideas, but it helps me to understand the failures of the church even more deeply. I guess where I differ is in the sense of grace and truth coming together in a much more dynamic manner within the heart of Christ followers. Jesus was not for a lifestyle of anything goes and yet was so full of grace. He brought the two together in a way of true loving holiness. He spoke grace and truth, he loved grace and truth, he embodied grace and truth. He is one full of grace and truth. The church often has leaned too heavily into truth void of grace which shames, punishes and runs off many. It is this church you chastise in your column. Other parts of the church have embraced grace while voiding truth. It’s a nice love fest where all are welcome to be comfortable but there is no power to change a heart and life. I am sorry but without Christ we are not good, and not fine – none of us. We are broken and damaged vessels desperately needing grace and forgiveness. I know that I need this but I cannot convince you or others of their need. But I promise you that you still have great need of Christ. And He is a more than willing and capable Savior and Lord. He alone will stand the test of time! My hope is built on nothing less. I am not angry, but I am very resolute! Much love in the name of Jesus Christ!

  7. This does not look like an attempt to meet anyone halfway. The message is basically: Give up your religion. It is uncompromising, to say the least. It is also honest. It accepts that there is a real battle going on. Those of us on the other side also believe that. We believe that the Order of Creation reflects the will of God. That is why we can never accept LGBT rights. Those who promote those rights reject the divinely ordained system of the world. They think they are right to do so; we think they are completely corrupt. The atheists and fake Christians seem to be in the ascendancy at the moment. What they don’t realise is that their Opponent is not one they can ever hope to defeat.

  8. David,
    Thanks for you input. I was a pastor for 20 years in a fundamentalist, evangelical setting. I know exactly where you are at. I don’t need to change you, I have a feeling that world is dying and we are in a post-Christian world. I am very resolute in my position, like I said, if you are happy there, I’m happy for you. I can experience God here in the Desert and I do, I don’t need any kind of religion to help with that. Close the door when you leave.

  9. Thanks for your input. I am a former fundamentalist, evangelical pastor. How do you feel about this statement? Most every thing bad I see in the world comes from that conservative, evangelical world. Start with the rampant sexual abuse, the trauma caused by purity culture, the hatred for people that are different (love different people), not to mention the insurrection. All religion needs a major overhaul, not a few tweaks. So, when I see evangelicals say they are not willing to change anything, I know we are in a post-Christian world.

  10. Because conservative, evangelicalism is my roots – I was a pastor there for 20 years. And, most of the evil I see in the world comes out of this tradition. Insurrections, racism, misogyny, homophobia, threating to kill a vice-president, rampant sexual abuse (it’s almost the norm, trauma all throughout the evangelical church (it’s also almost the norm). During the pandemic, this tradition failed to care for the “least of these” but was extremely careless and irresponsible with the virus. Don’t demand unity to a system that is severely broken – just look at the SBC for a model. In droves, the dones and nones are leaving. You need an overhall and most aren’t even willing to look at the sexual abuse.

  11. Some seem to wish for some sort of neutral ground in the middle which will satisfy both the decent liberal Christians and the delusional white-right sorts. I fail to see the utility of such equanimity. The Christian Right is demonstrably evil. They have no grounding in the teachings of Jesus, and are a social force for retrograde evil in the USA.
    Currently they’re denying that “black lives matter”, they’re supporting a treasonous insurrection against democratic elections, they’re following evil and demented conspiracy theories and salivating after a perverted narcissist wannabe-dictator.
    Condemnation is all they deserve, and is the only appropriate approach to them.

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