Christian Underhistory: Facing The Horrors of Christianity Past

by Vivian Taylor

Let me tell you about my new podcast Christian Underhistory.

It’s a Christian True Crime podcast.

Each week I have a different guest, usually a preacher or a theologian or a seminarian, and I tell them a true horror story from Christian history. We usually engage in gallows humor, joke so we can get through it, and end up learning all sorts of things about what Christianity looks like when Christians hurt other people.

These are stories of murder, molestation, sometimes of mass suicide. These are ugly, bad stories. Why have I put so much time and energy into telling these stories? Why don’t I just let that ugliness from the past stay dead and hidden away?

I actually do think this is an important ministry. I’m a queer Christian, most of the guests on my show are LGBTQ+ Christians or other kinds of LGBTQ+ believers. Many LGBTQ+ people I talk to about Christianity or the Church, their first reaction is that Christianity is something dangerous, something threatening to their freedoms and livelihoods.

With decades of anti-gay and anti-trans hammering, it’s no surprise that so many of us are afraid of Christianity, afraid that no matter how friendly a Christian community or institution looks, underneath its just oppression and violence.

It’s not just LGBTQ+ people who have suffered trauma because of Christianity.

Women, people of color, people of other faiths, all those people have been at times harmed by the Church. Even then that’s not everyone. White cis hetero men have been abused. Rich and powerful people have been abused.

Christianity is incredibly powerful, and when it’s misused, when it goes bad, terrible things can happen. But what does it mean for Christianity to do bad? That’s the question we work to answer at Christian Underhistory. By going through these stories week by week we can learn where the pitfalls are.

Spoiler alert—the pitfalls are usually a love of money, a desire by a religious leader to have sex with his, her, or their followers, or a willingness to enforce religious authority by use of violence.

By recognizing these threats, as Christians we can hopefully avoid them.

My hope is that if we face the horrors from our past we can keep them from happening again in the future.

Of course, we try to have fun too. If this sounds like a journey you’re interested in, please join us on iTunes at

Photo by David Wise