The Purity Culture of Progressive Christianity: A Retrospective

In 2015 I wrote a post entitled "The Purity Culture of Progressive Christianity." That was only six years ago, but it now seems like ages.

As the author of Unclean, in that post I was one of the first bloggers to notice that a purity psychology was at work in progressive spaces. This was a few years before worries about "Woke mobs" and "cancel culture" became commonplace. 

There was predictable pushback in 2015 toward my post. As longtime readers will recall, I was criticized for being a white male, though I don't know what that had to do with my analysis. I was also called "satan" on Twitter. Reactions which, somewhat ironically, illustrated the exact point I was making in the post. 

Anyway, I had a self-congratulatory moment the other day reflecting back on that post. Since 2015 you've likely read so many analyses that have made the exact same observation and argument, that a purity psychology is at work in progressive spaces. Three examples. How complicit in oppression does a Founding Father have to be to warrant canceling and erasure? How many racist or sexist Tweets are you allowed to share in high school to warrant your cancelation and erasure as an adult? How many friendships are you allowed to have with a deplorable?

Basically, how many sins or associations are you allowed before being erased or canceled? The answer appears to be zero. And can anyone ever be forgiven? The answer seems to be no.

The lines in the progressive sand are very puritanical.   

Now, as a progressive, to even raise such issues about your own team is itself a violation of the purity code. That's how you get called satanic. But I continue to believe that purity psychology is toxic, in both evangelical and progressive Christian spaces. You should want your team to be better, to be more self-critical, humane, merciful, and tolerant. Hell, I'll say it: more Christlike. And pushing back against the purity psychology at work in your heart, mind, and social space is a good place to start. 

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