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Empty the Pews editors seek writer submissions

In the essay anthology Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church, Chrissy Stroop and Lauren O’Neal sought to capture a generational portrait of people leaving North American conservative Christianity (evangelicalism, Mormonism and Catholicism). They are now seeking stories for a sequel that expands the ex-fundamentalist conversation to include former members of any high-control religious tradition or cult.

While contributions will obviously highlight the particularities of their authors’ experiences, they are looking for essays that explore the issues so many ex-fundamentalists deal with regardless of their particular background, such as difficulty forming healthy relationships, coping with shame around sex, and the ramifications of an inadequate childhood education.

While some contributors will feature examples of abuse, they aren’t looking only for shocking stories. In fact, many of the essays in Empty the Pews were successful because they examined the things the authors cherished or missed about the faith they ultimately decided to leave behind. Instead, they want compelling personal essays from a diverse group of authors, each of which looks back at what it was like to believe before breaking from a religious community.

Because they hope to encompass a diverse array of lived experience (class, race, sexuality, and former religion), they encourage writers of all backgrounds to submit.

All contributors who are selected for the anthology will receive a small payment.

Submission guidelines

• Only personal essays. No fiction.

• Word count is 2,000 to 6,000 words, but exceptions can be made for exceptional writing.

You may submit a full essay or a detailed pitch with links to writing samples.

• Send submissions to Attach the essay as a .docx or .pdf file.

• Include a short author bio with your pitch or submission.

• Submit your pitch or submission by Jan. 11, 2021.