Ever since evangelical Christians rose to national prominence, mainstream America has tracked their every move with a nervous eye. But in spite of this vigilance, our understanding hasn’t gone beyond the caricatures. Aiming to find out more, Gina Welch, a young secular Jew from Berkeley, joined Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church. Over the course of nearly two years, Welch immersed herself in the life and language of the devout. Alive to the meaning behind the music and the mind behind the slogans, Welch recognized the allure of evangelicalism, even for the godless, realizing that the congregation met needs and answered questions she didn’t know she had.
THE PART OF YOU THAT’S YOU FOREVER
WHEN I BEGAN AT THOMAS ROAD IN THE FALL OF 2005, I WAS more worried about telegraphing a plausibly conservative image than I was about the scruples of telegraphing at all. It wasn’t that I had zero misgivings about going undercover—I did meditate on the wrongness of lying and the string of betrayals my project would likely leave behind—it was that I sort of managed to balance the whole messy moral equation on an unsteady ball bearing of cliché: You have to break some eggs to make an omelette. The collateral damage of going
“An amazing narrative journey into the heart of the evangelical movement.” —Washington Life magazine“Memorable... A genuinely inquisitive memoir about the complicated nature of religious belief.”
“Welch is a combination of thoughtful, funny, self-deprecating, and a skilled stylist....I am pleased I accompanied her on her journey.” —The Charlotte Observer“With compassion, wit, and verve, Gina Welch has gone where few secular liberals have dared to go—the late Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church—and emerged with a compelling story that transcends stereotypes and builds common ground. Both sides of the Great American Culture War should read this refreshing call for a cease-fire.” —Kevin Roose, author of The Unlikely Disciple