#exvangelical - PhMuseum

#exvangelical

Stacy Platt

2018 - Ongoing

#exvangelical

“A fundamentalist is an evangelical who is angry about something.” --George Marsden

I was raised in a family of evangelical fundamentalists who were living in Colorado Springs at the same moment that James Dobson founded Focus on the Family, whose dogma figured prominently into my upbringing. Their subsequent indoctrination and religious fervor created a stranglehold on my life and experiences that cannot be understated. Decades later, I have unexpectedly found myself living in Colorado Springs again—which has since become an evangelical mecca—and in a current political moment whose very origins, I contend, can be traced to this place.

How did modern Christianity get so angry? How did its outer-most fringes become the center of contemporary American life? How did a relatively small group of people come to dominate our current political discourse, shifting policies that disenfranchise vast swaths of the population based on race and class? Where did it all start and how can we begin to understand it?

I am photographing all of the physical structures that house Christian church services within the city limits—there are nearly 400 of them. Taking the notion of the typology as point of departure, I am subverting its conventional meaning for the purposes of investigating what sensations these spaces evoke for those who left them. Upending any notions of sanctuary, I have conceived these images to reflect what others have shared with me their experiences of them to be: spaces that encourage senses of alienation, bewilderment, fear and the uncanny.

Of equal and vital importance to this project is finding, speaking with and archiving the stories of those who, like myself, were raised in markedly religious Christian households whose tenets they then rejected as adults. As I continue to be involved with this community and identifying with our similarly traumatic and frankly bizarre stories of collective upbringing, I recognize that the importance of these accounts being shared serves as an in-roads for the rest of our society to understand the context of our current political moment, and how it affects those harmed or otherwise influenced by policies driven by fundamentalist evangelicalism. The story of the #exvangelical is the story of the end of a way of life for this community of people, but it is also an account of the fall of what we’ve collectively recognized in our society as The American Dream—which those who identify as #exvangelical consider themselves finally, irretrievably and gratefully awoken from.

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  • First Evangelical Free Church, 820 N. 30th St., Evangelical

    "I don't believe there's anything after we die. I feel our connection to each other and the earth is all that really matters. Here. Now. We are all connected and part of the universe on a cellular level. How we live nd how we treat others and our world defines us. Good and bad actions have consequences. People make mistakes, we say things we don't mean, we do things we aren't aware are hurtful or are totally aware, we are basically self centered—it's the human condition.

    Being selfish is a choice though. It's very different than being self centered and religion seems to excuse being selfish. It allows judgement and condemnation all across every religion known. Sure we have non-religious selfishness, but when large populations collectively choose to see and condemn others based on religious teaching, it's the kind of brain washing that starts wars, permits atrocities, and does damage over and over throughout history.

    In my search for belonging and "family,” I've been hurt more by the institutions of religion than by the people in my life who know how to actually love and accept others. The communities who have been outcast and reviled hold more compassion and empathy than all the religions I've interacted with in 50 years."—Giorgi

  • Integrity Cowboy Church, 410F S 8th St, Interfaith

    "I lived with my Dad during the summers. He was completely non-religious and would take me to bars and try to get me laid. One summer staying with him, I started smoking pot early (around 15) and lost my virginity. My guilt was staggering and I tried to convert the girl who had just "made me a man", as she was the wayward one, not me.

    But I liked both sex and drugs."—Kerry

  • Garden Ranch Baptist Church and Iglesia Gracia & Verdad, 3830 Van Teylingen Dr., Baptist and Evangelical

    "Religion for me was always more about discovering the truth about the nature of reality, and then living accordingly, than about a feeling. Metaphysically, I don't see any reason to believe in divine or supernatural things. My world is fundamentally "disenchanted," and I think it's much less frightening because of that.

    There is no all-powerful being who will punish me for not trying harder to believe in him. There aren't demons and angels fighting for my soul. I'm just a clever primate, who will live for a little while and then die forever. And in the meantime, I'm making the best life for myself that I can."—Helen

  • Rocky Mountain Praise and St. Aidan's Anglican Church and New Hope Church of God, 317 E. Boulder St., Pentecostal, Anglican, Evangelical

    "My parents chose nondenominational Pentecostal gatherings as a whole and we became immersed in the culture. I would attend church both Sunday morning and evening, Wednesday evening and Friday night bible study. Our lives were filled with every traveling tent revival and every stage performance by the likes of Jimmy Swaggart and Ernest Angley that came through.

    I witnessed possessions, exorcisms and all sorts of fear-induced demonic attacks. It was crazy."—K.S.

  • Action in Action Missionaries, 930 S. Prospect St., Evangelical

    "My mother, as a white woman raised by wealthy parents in the south, was raised some kind of Protestant Christian, which she and her mother found boring. They would sneak into Baptist churches within black communities for something "more lively." —Elizabeth

  • USAF Academy Cadet Chapel, 2306 Sijan Dr., Interfaith

    "The Christian faith in the U.S. has fallen into complete ruin. Like a dying fire, there are embers here and there that glow, but by and large, it is a failed effort. It is every bit as decadent as the Jewish world in Jesus's time, and it builds and perpetuates actual evil in the world. It is a negative force that has completely lost its moorings. The Evangelicals' support of Trump is the most obvious symptom, but there are many others. It's a lost cause. We need a new prophet."—Samuel

  • Divine Redeemer Catholic Church, 926 Farragut Ave

    "I was having continuous thoughts of suicide. Sometimes it was just images of myself jumping out the 10th floor window at my office job, popping into my head unbidden. That's not a sin. But if I stopped to think it over, if I looked over the edge and thought about jumping, that was a sin. The line between the unbidden image and the intentional thought is kind of hard to discern. Mostly, I just felt bad all the time about feeling bad all the time. Ugh. Also, my misery made me doubt God, but not believing in God is a sin, too.

    So I was going to confession every week, always confessing the same things: I don't believe in God and I'm thinking about killing myself." —Helen

  • Universal Ministries of Truth, 1115 Academy Blvd N., Pentecostal

    “Brainwashed me used to see the existence of religion in most human cultures as a sign of god, but that slowly turned into the view that we, as humans, tend to most naturally view things through the lens of our own existence and experiences, and so it’s easier to imagine that our “soul” lives on. So deep is our fear of not being relevant that we tend to think we must live on in someway beyond this realm. I think how we treat people matters because if we all treat each other better we will all be happier. I don’t need more reason to do good than that.”—D.H.

  • House of Prayer Holy Reformation Church for all Nations, 324 N. Wahsatch Ave., Charismatic Christian

    “I think the biggest thing I realized was my lack of navigational skills. I was given a bible to answer life’s questions. My parents would flip a coin and pray before any important decisions. That prepared me very little for a future of much of anything. I’m still stunted by that lack of understanding and feel it often in my professional life.”—Kerry

  • Independent Missionary Baptist Church, 527 East Vrain St., Baptist

    “I did not know Democrats could be Christians, and I assumed every one of them would go to hell. I did not know climate change was real. I did not know about the Reformation —I thought there had always been some small strand of Baptists keeping the faith alive.”—Tad

  • The Sanctuary Church, 1930 W. Colorado Ave., Non-denominational

    "I was sexually abused by my missionary grandfather; my mother fell prey to the Satanic Panic of 1982, and accused me of being a priestess in the occult. Those were very traumatic events that showed me the church wasn't the safest place, but when home isn't safe, it's sometimes the ONLY place to find any kind of redemption.

    As for loss, though, the kind that rips your heart out--well, I lost my family. My mother never recovered from the spiritual psychosis of the Satanic Panic, and sent me back to live with my father. I never saw her again. I left my house when I was 17 and never went back. I haven't seen my father since I was twenty five. He became even more conservative and apocalyptic in his beliefs. My family was the most unsafe entity in my life, so I had to leave it."—Nancy

  • Detail from #exvangelical install view: (l-r, top to bottom) Garden Ranch Baptist & Iglesia Gracia Verdad, 3830 Van Teylingen Dr., (Baptist and Evangelical); Chapel of Our Savior, 8 4th St. (Episcopal); High Country Baptist Church, 865 Westmoreland Rd.; First Church of Christian Scientist, 325 N. Cascade Ave.

  • Left Column
    (l-r, top to bottom):

    • Garden Ranch Baptist Church and Iglesia Gracia & Verdad, 3830 Van Teylingen Dr., Baptist and Evangelical.
    • Chapel of Our Savior, 8 4th St., Episcopal
    • High Country Baptist Church, 865 Westmoreland Rd., Baptist
    • First Church of Christian Scientist, 325 N. Cascade Ave., Christian Science
    • Jesus Baptist USA Conference Church, 1919 N. Union Blvd., Baptist
    • Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church, 1 S. Walnut St., Baptist
    • House of Prayer Holy Reformation Church for all Nations, 324 N. Wahsatch Ave., Charismatic Christian
    • Divine Redeemer Catholic Church, 926 Farragut Ave., Catholic


    Middle Column
    (l-r, top to bottom):

    • First Evangelical Free Church, 820 N. 30th St., Evangelical
    • Universal Ministries of Truth, 1115 Academy Blvd N., Pentacostal
    • Rocky Mountain Praise and St. Aidan's Anglican Church and New Hope Church of God, 317 E. Boulder St., Pentacostal, Anglican, Evangelical
    • Action in Action Missionaries, 930 S. Prospect St., Evangelical
    • USAF Academy Cadet Chapel, 2306 Sijan Dr., Interfaith
    • Independent Missionary Baptist Church, 527 East Vrain St., Baptist


    Right Column
    (l-r, top to bottom):

    • Gateway Presbyterian Church, 731 Castle Rd., Presbyterian
    • Mesa Hills Bible Church, 615 W. Uintah St., Non-denominational
    • Christian Crossroads Center, 145 Fontaine Blvd., Non-denominational
    • New Vision Christian Center, 254 S. Academy Blvd., Church of God in Christ
    • The Sanctuary Church, 1930 W. Colorado Ave., Non-denominational
    • Chadbourn Spanish Gospel Mission, 402 Conejos St., Non-denominational


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