Axios Today Podcast: Moving Away from the Evangelical Church

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About a quarter of Americans describe themselves as evangelical Protestants, according to the Pew Research Center. But lately a movement of so-called “Exvangelicals” is moving away from the Evangelical Church in the USA

  • Also, new steps to protect US workers from extreme heat.
  • And some of you share how you dealt with raising young children during the pandemic.

Guests: Axios’ Stef Kight and Andrew Freedman; Axios Today listener.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in collaboration with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Erica Pandey, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani and Alex Sugiura. The music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected] You can send questions, comments, and story ideas to Niala as text or voice memos at 202-918-4893.

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Transcript

ERICA PANDEY: Good Morning! Welcome to Axios today! It is Tuesday, September 21st. I’m Erica Pandey and I represent Niala Boodhoo. Here’s what we see today: new steps to protect US workers from extreme heat. Also, some of she Share how you handled raising young children during the pandemic. But first a movement one way from the Protestant Church is now One Big Thing.

About a quarter of Americans describe themselves as evangelical Protestants, according to the Pew Research Center. But recently a movement of so-called “ex-evangelicals” is moving away from the evangelical church in the USA, according to Stef Kight from Axios. She is here with more now. Hello Stef.

STEF KIGHT: Hello Erika.

ERIKA: So Stef, how big is this exodus from the evangelical church?

STEF: You know, it’s really hard to measure how many people have left the evangelical church in recent years. It’s hard – it’s hard to deal with polls. Um, what we do know is that there are some social media accounts that have tens of thousands of followers. And these social media accounts are aimed at ex-evangelicals or deconstructed evangelicals.

ERIKA: What do you mean by the term “deconstructed”?

STEF: Deconstruction is a kind of buzzword used in these circles and it honestly has a number of meanings. For some people it means that they have just withdrawn from a certain type of Christian church or culture or politics. Um, while for others it means they have left organized religion altogether.

ERIKA: So what is responsible for this surge in ex-evangelicals?

STEF: There are a couple of different things that have happened in the past few years that have caused people to leave the Church and be more open about it too. Donald Trump’s presidency was a really big issue that a lot of the people I spoke to raised. Because we saw so many white evangelicals join Donald Trump, this became a focus and reason for some people who disagreed with his policies and rhetoric to move away and highlight issues they may have always been with of the Church, but seeing how people reacted to his presidency made them resign in the end.

ERIKA: And how does social media play a role here?

STEF: You know, people have always left churches in the past. It is not new for people to change their beliefs or change what kind of church they want to go to. But what’s different this time around is that social media has actually made it possible for people to form communities, to support one another, even hashtags like “exvangelical” or “deconstruction” or “churchtoo” have made it possible for people to share their To share stories and also to find others people who had similar reasons for quitting, who had also experienced stories of abuse within the church, or who did not feel they belonged because of their sexual identity or other problems. So it was more like a movement that had previously only been a one-time person who walked and nothing really was said about it.

ERIKA: So Stef, give me your big souvenir here. Why is that important?

STEF: It is important because evangelicalism is still very popular in the US and is also a political target group. I think sometimes it’s easy to look at evangelicals and just think about the Republican Party, but there are nuances and we’re starting to see, uh, that the fellowship is falling apart in different ways. So it will be interesting to see how it goes on.

ERIKA: Stef Kight is a political reporter for Axios. Thanks Stef.

STEF: Thank you Erika.

ERIKA: In 15 seconds to protect US workers from extreme heat conditions.

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ERIKA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I’m Erica Pandey, who represents Niala Boodhoo. Last summer was the hottest summer on record in the US, putting outdoor workers at risk. And yesterday the Biden government announced new steps to protect workers from the extreme heat. Axios’ Andrew Freedman has the story. Hello andrew

ANDREW FREIMANN: Hey thank you Thanks for the invitation.

ERIKA: So has the Biden government announced any steps to combat these heat waves that we’ve seen across the country?

ANDREW: You are going to take a step that advocates over the past few years have argued should be taken. This means that OSHA has to issue a rule that specifies adequate protection for workers from extreme heat. So if you’re an employer now and you have a lot of people in a warehouse and you don’t have adequate air conditioning and it’s a hundred degrees and people have heat related problems. They don’t have a special law telling you what to give them regarding a break, regarding access to air conditioning, water breaks, and the like. This regulation by OSHA would mean a new requirement for businesses, and farms, particularly farm workers, and anyone who has to work in the fields, will be particularly affected. Construction is an important sector that is essentially losing working days every year due to climate change. So you think it would help protect companies from liability, but it would also help protect workers.

ERIKA: This goes well beyond just managing heat at work. On a hot day, this affects many different communities. Who does it hurt?

ANDREW: Yes, so this really has a disproportionate impact, especially in urban areas, on colored communities and poorer residents. You know, neighborhoods that were discriminated against in real estate policy in the past. These areas have fewer trees than more affluent neighborhoods. And there can be a 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit difference in the middle of a heat wave between the temperature like the top of the urban heat island and some of the more shady areas. And it has a significant impact on people. You know, you can also see when there are major power outages and hot weather after a storm. We just saw this in New Orleans, where about 10 or 11 people died from exposure to heat after the storm. These are people who couldn’t afford to forestall the storm. Heat is some kind of insidious killer. It is, on average, the number one weather-related cause of death in the United States each year. So I think this is really a question of environmental justice and not just a mere climate protection measure. Think of it more as climate adaptation and environmental justice.

ERIKA: Andrew Freedman covers climate and energy for Axios. Thank you, Andreas.

ANDREW: Thanks for the invitation.

ERIKA: To learn more about how climate change is affecting color communities, you can check out our latest episode of Hard Truths on Race and the Environment.

All of the last week on the show, we’ve been telling you stories about the effects COVID has on children. And we asked you to tell us how you have supports your young children through the pandemic. Here’s some of what you’ve told us.

ZACH: Hello, this is Zach from Pennsylvania. This pandemic has certainly pushed our toddler’s classroom into nature and abandoned cultural areas of our local community. We complemented this with the purchase of educational subscriptions. That, combined with my wife’s experience as a teacher, worked really well for us as she did a great job of structuring everything we did.

SARAH: My name is Sarah and I am in Greenville, South Carolina. My husband and I now have a five-year-old boy, but he wasn’t even four when the pandemic first broke out. Given his age, my main concern is social development. And the best way we’ve found over the past 18 months is to really practice it and show it in front of him. I tried to be very expressive with my eyes and facial expression with a mask so that it can mirror me. And what that has done is really allowing him to thrive and get back to normal in school now that he can go to kindergarten this year.

JESSICA: Hello my name is jessica Our son is very active and that didn’t go well with school, um, especially after all the COVID pandemic protocols of keeping your distance, wearing masks and sitting still. Unfortunately, in the midst of the pandemic, when vaccines weren’t available, play therapy wasn’t an option. So my husband and I met with a play therapist weekly through Zoom. We spent over 100 hours and nearly $ 3,000 improving our parenting while trying to do our full-time jobs. Our son is now in first grade and has had a much better experience, but it’s very stressful for him and our whole household.

ERIKA: Thanks to the listeners Zach, Sarah and Jessica for submitting them. You can always send your thoughts on the show or feedback by sending a text message or voice memo to Niala at 202-918-4893.

That’s all we have for you today! I’m Erica Pandey – thanks for listening – stay safe and Niala will be back with you in the morning.


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