Toby Morrell curses and talks about sex on his podcast. Mike McHargue talks about evolution and LGBTQ issues on his. These things would be typical on most podcasts — but McHargue and Morrell’s audiences are almost entirely Christian.
A study by the Pew Research Center, released in 2015, shows that millennials have been leaving Catholic and mainline Protestant churches in droves from at least 2007 but they don’t necessarily lose their belief in God. In fact, more than half say they’re still religious or spiritual.
That’s the type of audience that’s tuning in to McHargue’s podcast The Liturgists and Morrell’s podcast Bad Christian.The Liturgists has about 1 million downloads a month for some episodes and according to its Website, 250,000 subscribers.
Bad Christian is sponsored by a few corporations not generally known for their religious affiliations. Among them are Lyft, Casper, Stamps.com.
These two podcasts aren’t unique in their approach. Similar podcasts include The Robcast, hosted by ex-pastor Rob Bell, who left his church after saying God doesn’t send people to hell, and Drunk Ex-Pastors, where the hosts take a shot of an alcoholic beverage before every show.
McHargue and Morrell say they grew up as Christians who didn’t feel like the institutional church allowed them to question and explore their faith. They spoke with NPR’s Michel Martin on All Things Considered about why they left the church, how that changed their faith, and how podcasts like theirs could be affecting Christianity.