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In the Land of Believers

An Outsider's Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church

Gina Welch


In the Land of Believers Download image

ISBN10: 0312680708
ISBN13: 9780312680701

Trade Paperback

352 Pages



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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. In search of further understanding and perhaps a common purpose amongst the American people, despite the differences in culture and language, church and party, 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: she learned to interpret the world like an evangelical, weathered the death of Falwell, and embarked on a mission trip to Alaska intended to save one hundred souls. 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.

What emerges is an informative and riveting account of a skeptic's transformation from uninformed cynicism to compassionate understanding, and a rare view of how evangelicals see themselves. Revealing their generosity and hopefulness, as well as their prejudice and exceptionalism, In the Land of Believers is a call for comprehending, rather than dismissing, the impassioned believers who have become so central a force in American life.


Praise for In the Land of Believers

"Welch is a combination of thoughtful, funny, self-deprecating, and a skilled stylist—I am pleased I accompanied her on her journey."—San Francisco Chronicle

"An amazing narrative journey into the heart of the evangelical movement."—Washington Life

"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

"Gina Welch's story of her immersion in Jerry Falwell's Evangelical church is riveting. Welch is a fair, compassionate, very smart writer—and one of the most arresting narrators I've encountered in a half-century of reading."—John Casey, author of Spartina

"Memorable . . . A genuinely inquisitive memoir about the complicated nature of religious belief."—Kirkus Reviews

"Excellent prose with a laudable purpose: to promote understanding of evangelical Christians . . .
An engaging, personal look at one variant of Christian fundamentalism."—Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


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 the author

Gina Welch

Gina Welch, a 2001 graduate of Yale University, teaches English at George Washington University. Her writing has previously appeared in Meridian, Time Out New York, and Playboy. In the Land of Believers is her first book.

Gina Welch

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