Kate's Reviews > In the Land of Believers: An Outsider's Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church

In the Land of Believers by Gina Welch
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's review
Dec 14, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: faith
Read from August 31 to September 01, 2011

As a progressive Christian who currently attends an evangelical church, I was intrigued by the idea of Gina Welch’s book, but it only took a few chapters to become offended by the execution. She approaches her experiment of trying to figure out evangelicals as if she’s off to study chimps in Africa, oozing all the condescension of a Victorian explorer. Even after she finds that some of her fellow church members are actually nice people who think and can converse in full sentences, the patronizing tone never lets up. At the end when her Big Secret is revealed, one person asks if there’s anything potentially embarrassing about him in the book. “No, it’s not that kind of book,” she replies. I’m sure he was tickled to read about how he’s a bad tipper who dresses funny.

My other gripe is that the author paints evangelicals with a pretty broad brush. She attends one church, a pretty high-profile one, and, with only a few weak caveats, ascribes their practices and beliefs to evangelicals across the board. If she’d been more careful to admit from the beginning that this project would only focus on one church run by one very controversial fundamentalist pastor, it might have been taken better, but as it is, it’s sloppy and disingenuous.
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