Razed Evangelical: Book Review
Stephanie McCown is reclaiming time. In Razed Evangelical: Losing my Faith and Finding Myself (2019) McCown recounts the hours, days, and years of shame and life-limiting beliefs that shaped her experiences. The book's tone is reflective and honest as she revisits confusion and heartache similar to what so many have experienced growing up within fundamentalism and evangelicalism.
For example, McCown shares the personal damage done by the purity culture movement of the 1990s-2000s, which focused on courtship and marriage instead of dating and which associated sexuality with shame. She explains, "Purity Culture sets the wheels in motion early, presenting children with the idea they are not their own." The byproduct: children are left with the impression they must not trust their own instincts about relationships. The effect this has especially on girls should not be underestimated. McCown states, "For all the bases purity culture attempted to cover in its juggernaut of shame, the one thing it missed entirely was the concept of consent." She relates the price paid by females within the movement, taught to be submissive and to be responsible for the interests and actions of the males in their lives, even if the relationship is abusive. Her experience reflects just how damaging this can become.
McCown recounts events and insights, such as, "I began to see that the coping tools I had been given by my spiritual mentors trapped me in cycles of guilt and shame." McCown identifies what many others leaving the church are discovering: the limiting dogma of evangelical Christianity has left them ill-equipped for what they face in life. This is a wake-up call for parents within these movements.
McCown's voice is one voice and her book in one account, but it is a powerful one that gathers strength. She shares what it's like to love her parents through these struggles, to raise a child herself with a different agenda than her own upbringing, and to face uncertainty when she was conditioned with false certainty. Razed Evangelical is worth your time, especially if you are or have been an evangelical.