Church is often the place where people seek comfort and community in unsettling times, but the contentiousness of this election has filtered into the pews. In a sign of lingering partisanship, some people have looked for another place to worship, having split with their pastor over politics. Others are staying but feel estranged, wondering how a person a pew away backed a pro-choice candidate, for instance, or supported someone who demeaned immigrants.
“We have a lot of fingers pointed at each other saying ‘You are not Christian,' ” says Megan Sutker, who was ordained in the United Church of Christ, works as an interfaith minister and belongs to the Episcopal Church. She worries the split will exacerbate disillusionment with organized religion, at a time when mainstream churches are already experiencing declines. Even messages from the pulpit urging unity can be loaded, with some people feeling it diminishes their concerns.