The women who left: An ethnography with ex-Evangelical women in an age of religious pluralism
Promotionsprojekt von Rebecca L. Anne-Davis
This collaborative digital ethnography is done with ex-Evangelical women in Germany who are a part of a global cross-platform online community for ‘deconstructing’ and deconverted Christians. It explores the lived and dynamic processes of leaving one’s religion in our pluralistic and, one might argue, post-secular society in which we are hyper-connected through our digital and social technology, creating a plethora or life options available to us.
Taking a feminist ethnographic approach, the embodied experiences of deconstruction and deconversion are specifically held in focus. This project aims to offer insight into what it is like leaving Evangelicalism as a woman in Germany, especially considering the process of untangling the gendered expectations for biblical womanhood in a pluralistic environment. It examines the embodied processes of ex-Evangelical women as they re-learn what it means to be human here now on Earth.
Globalization also plays a role in the deconversion process, given the proliferation of international evangelical churches in Germany, and the global interconnectedness of the online deconstruction community. Leaving religion is an option with many precursors and consequences; learning more about this can help us gain a more holistic view of the livid experienced of religious pluralism today.
So, this project explores two main questions. First, how do these women experience the processes of deconstruction/deconversion? Second, what does it mean for them to deconstruct/deconvert in a digitally saturated age of religious pluralism?
It seems that experimentation, play, creativity, movement, ritual, creation and sharing of different forms of art, and re-telling of one’s life narrative are critical tools for deconstruction and deconversion. Deconstruction and deconversion tend to be intensely lonely journeys, where one’s beliefs and experiences around divinity, mortality, morality, matter, spirit, self, and others is broken down and built up again. To that end, the search for a new community underpins the deconstruction experience after one has lost their spiritual home and established sense of life-meaning.