Lance Aksamit

I’m Lance, I was born into a world dominated by two authoritarian regimes—one political and the other ontological. General Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno was the Panamanian autocrat, and Jesus the benevolent dictator. These two regimes found themselves at odds in the backwater jungles of the Darien when Noriega accused my blind father of being a CIA operative. The son of an ordained minister and missionary, I grew up fully immersed in the Evangelical church, not some fringe element or offshoot, but mainstream, nondenominational, fundamentalist, “born again” Evangelicalism. As a teen, I picketed abortion clinics, accosted strangers in the name of Jesus, and debated with my teachers concerning the dangerous falsehoods of evolution, global warming, and affirmative action. I grew up convinced humanists and atheists were busy scheming up ways to send me to hell. I became an active member and leader in Evangelical youth programs, and could easily be described as a zealot.

The unthinking convictions I adopted at a young age later propelled me into close proximity with the Alt-right. They hawked secret and suppressed knowledge that smelled of home. Ultimately, my flirtation with right-wing conspiracy theorists fizzled out. However, my short-lived immersion in the burgeoning Alt-right did provide a unique perspective from which to critique. I somehow found my way from Christian fundamentalism to atheism and from right-wing conservatism to Marxist humanism over the course of 11 years, dozens of professions, and some 30-odd countries.

I am currently a husband, a high school history teacher, and a new father. My book, Youth Group: Coming of Age in the Church of Christian Nationalism is both memoir and historical analysis with a humor-driven narrative.


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