Where Were You Radicalized?

Have you seen it yet? Emily Nussbaum asked a simple question on Twitter: Where were you radicalized? I admit I haven’t read all the responses, but there’s one obvious one that I have heard from lots of my ex-evangelical friends that I’m not seeing.where were you radicalized

Some of the responses are compelling. Patrick Deneen, for example, blamed the effete and impudent snobs. Where was Deneen radicalized?

Princeton University, upon hearing colleagues using the words “flyover country” without irony or embarrassment, and where being anti-Christian was an acceptable and even required prejudice.

Other respondents share stories of feminist, economic, anti-war, or other radicalizing epiphanies. But here’s my puzzle: I’m not seeing tons of responses from people who say they were radicalized in church. I thought I would.

I don’t mean the people who heard a left-wing pastor sing and play guitar. I mean the people who sat in pews and listened to the conservative, maybe fundamentalist spiel over and over until they rejected the whole thing.

As I polish and revise my creationism book, I came across example after example of evangelicals who turned away from creationism precisely because of the young-earth ideas to which they were exposed at church.

For example, as two intrepid evangelical scholars relate, they met plenty of students who were “radicalized” due to the intellectual shortcomings of young-earth creationism. As one student told them,

My parents saw evolution as incompatible with religion; I agree, and when I decided the evidence did not support a 6-day creation, I stopped believing in God.

So for all those left-leaning evangelicals and ex-evangelicals out there, where were YOU radicalized? Was it in Sunday school? At church? At your religious school?

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