A Leap of Doubt

#031: How Evangelicalism Fosters Sexual Abuse (w/ Carly Gelsinger)

October 25, 2018

My guest for this episode is Carly Gelsinger, author, writing teacher, and freelance editor. She holds a bachelor’s in psychology from William Jessup University and a master’s in journalism from Boston University. Her work has appeared in local, regional, and national publications. Her first book, which was released this month, is called Once You Go In: A Memoir of Radical Faith, a book about her life inside a fundamentalist Pentecostal church, where she was on fire for the Lord, as they say, until she found the courage to leave and forge her own path free of the toxicity and fear that fundamentalist religion so often breeds.

Carly and I discuss her life inside the Pentecostal faith and her exodus out of it, as well as the conservative evangelical “purity culture” movement and the ways in which it has damaged the well-being of young women within conservative evangelical subcultures. We explore the ways in which evangelicalism fosters sexual abuse and why conservative evangelical women often vote against their own interests, not just in matters related to reproductive rights, but even when it comes to supporting men accused of sexual assault. We end by discussing resources young women and men trapped in a religious community can turn to if they need to call out sexual abuse.

Doubter of the Week: Anne Newport Royall (1769-1854): First professional woman journalist in America, and the first lobbyist in Congress for the separation of church and state.


Carly Gelsinger on Twitter: https://twitter.com/carlygelsinger

Carly Gelsinger’s website: https://carlygelsingerauthor.com/

Carly Gelsinger’s book Once You Go In: A Memoir of Radical Faith: https://www.amazon.com/Once-You-Go-Memoir-Radical/dp/1631524291

Carly Gelsinger, “Pentecostalism and Spiritual Abuse,” Patheos, October 5, 2014, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/andygill/pentecostalism-and-spiritual-abuse/.

Carly Gelsinger, “How Evangelicalism Fosters Sexual Abuse,” Unfundamentalist, January 18, 2018,  http://unfundamentalists.com/2018/01/evangelicalism-fosters-sexual-abuse/.

Carly Gelsinger, “I Know Why Evangelical Women Support Brett Kavanaugh. I Was Raised To Do The Same,” Huffington Post, October 3, 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/brett-kavanaugh-evangelical-women_us_5bb3a28de4b0ba8bb211985b.

Andy Herndon’s The eXvangelicals documentary on GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/theexvangelicals

GRACE (a ministry that trains Christian communities to recognize, prevent, and respond to child abuse): http://www.netgrace.org/.


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The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license. The editing was done by Rich Lyons of the “Living After Faith” podcast.

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