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Abstract

The support of Donald Trump by many evangelical Christian voters during the 2016 election was seen as a betrayal of core beliefs by the author, who grew up in a non-denominational evangelical church during the 1990s and 2000s. The cognitive dissonance experienced by the author after the 2016 election plunged him into a whirlwind reconsideration of his Christian upbringing. Using autoethnography, a research method that employs self-reflection and personal experience as a qualitative research tool, the author analyzes his own social media posts, journal entries, and creative writing to trace his exit from American Evangelicalism in this deeply personal account. Applying James Fowler’s Stages of Faith as a model, the author uncovers how the Trump election catalyzed his personal faith through an internal evolution. Simultaneously, the author’s candid self-reflection demonstrates the emotional and social insecurity group members can experience when they leave a religious subculture to which they have belonged their whole life. The findings of the paper reveal how one can successfully navigate such turbid waters and provides an additional source of hope for those currently going through their own spiritual migration.

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