Advancing Studies in religion

The Subversive Evangelical

The Ironic Charisma of an Irreligious Megachurch
By Peter J. Schuurman
June 2019

A close investigation of a new wave of “reflexive evangelicals,” whose playful critique of their own faith wins crowds.

Evangelicals have been scandalized by their association with Donald Trump, their megachurches summarily dismissed as “religious Walmarts.” In The Subversive Evangelical Peter Schuurman shows how a growing group of “reflexive evangelicals” use irony to critique their own tradition and distinguish themselves from the stereotype of right-wing evangelicalism.

Entering the Meeting House – an Ontario-based Anabaptist megachurch – as a participant observer, Schuurman discovers that the marketing is clever and the venue (a rented movie theatre) is attractive to the more than five thousand weekly attendees. But the heart of the church is its charismatic leader, Bruxy Cavey, whose anti-religious teaching and ironic tattoos offer a fresh image for evangelicals. This charisma, Schuurman argues, is not just the power of one individual; it is a dramatic production in which Cavey, his staff, and attendees cooperate, cultivating an identity as an “irreligious” megachurch and providing followers with a more culturally acceptable way to practise their faith in a secular age.

Going behind the scenes to small group meetings, church dance parties, and the homes of attendees to investigate what motivates these reflexive evangelicals, Schuurman reveals a playful and provocative counterculture that distances itself from prevailing stereotypes while still embracing a conservative Christian faith.

Buy this publication at McGill-Queen's University Press

Advancing Studies in religion

Prayer as Transgression?

The Social Relations of Prayer in Healthcare Settings
By Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham, Sonya Sharma, Rachel D. Brown and Melania Calestani
September 2020
Advancing Studies in religion

Identities Under Construction

Religion, Gender, and Sexuality among Youth in Canada
By Pamela Dickey Young and Heather Shipley
July 2020
Advancing Studies in religion

The Public Work of Christmas

Difference and Belonging in Multicultural Societies
Edited by Pamela E. Klassen and Monique Scheer
June 2020