Today we’re going to take a close look at the phenomenon of progressive Evangelicals. I do not come from an Evangelical background, so my stereotype has always been the right wing, xenophobic, anti-gay, right to lifer model that we all remember from the heyday of the Religious Right of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jim & Tammy Fay Baker, Francis Schaeffer and that whole gang. I lived in that bubble for a long time. But in the last ten years or so, I’ve met so many extremely progressive Evangelicals that my bubble was popped. The biggest eye opener is the Wild Goose Festival, which I have attended since 2012. Most of the people there are Evangelicals and you’ll never find a more open and committed bunch of progressive people, working in all kinds of really great ministries.
My guest in this episode, Deborah Jian Lee, has a new book, Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism. In it she tell her own story, in addition to several others, of becoming fed up with the right wing expectations of the church. Through these stories and a lot of very well researched history and analysis, she points out that there have always been progressive Evangelicals and there have been times where it looked like they may actually become the leadership of the movement. And better still, she shows that they are in ascendency today.
Deborah Jian Lee lives in Chicago. She’s an award-winning journalist and radio producer. She’s been a staff reporter for the Associated Press, taught journalism at Columbia University, and written for Foreign Policy, Forbes, Slate, GOOD, Reuters, WBEZ, WNYC, and others.
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Now, let’s join the conversation with Deborah Jian Lee.