Rachel Held Evans

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Rachel Held Evans

Rachel Grace Held Evans (born June 8, 1981 in Birmingham; died May 4, 2019) was a newspaper columnist and author of four books, including the bestseller, A Year of Biblical Womanhood.

Evans was the daughter of Peter and Robin Held. She grew up next to Ruffner Mountain in Birmingham and attended Parkway Christian Academy and Faith Chapel of Huffman. She moved with her family moved to Dayton, Tennessee, when she was 14 as her father took a job as an administrator at Bryan College. She graduated from Rhea County High School and then attended Bryan, where she majored in English literature. She received her bachelor of arts degree in 2003 and married her college boyfriend, Dan Evans, that year. They moved to Chattanooga, where she worked as an intern for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

In 2004, Evans returned to Dayton where she worked for the local paper, The Herald-News. In 2006, she lost her full-time position, but continued to contribute an unpaid humor column, which won an award from the Tennessee Press Association a year later. She continued to write freelance articles for national publications and also started a blog.

In September 2008, Evans signed with Christian publisher Zondervan for her first book, Evolving in Monkey Town, referencing Dayton's history as the setting for the historic 1925 Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes "Monkey Trial". The book explores her journey from religious certainty to a faith which accepts doubt and questioning. Her second book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master, was released in October 2012. In it she recounts how she spent a year of conforming to a "Biblical lifestyle," based on a literal reading of the Bible. The book garnered Evans national media attention, including an appearance on The Today Show. In 2014, Zondervan re-released Evolving in Monkey Town with the new title of Faith Unraveled.

In 2015, Evans wrote a column in The Washington Post that was entitled: "Want millennials back in the pews? Stop trying to make church 'cool'”. In the column she self-identified as a millennial, and expressed her belief that while churches in the United States are attempting to get more millennials in the church, their approach is wrong because they focus primarily on stylistic aspects, which she believes "are not the key to drawing millennials back to God in a lasting and meaningful way. Young people don’t simply want a better show." She believes that while the church is acting in good faith in their efforts to bring millennials back to the church, they too frequently use misguided strategies to do so.

Evans attended St Luke's Episcopal Church in Cleveland, Tennessee. She no longer considered herself to be an evangelical due to its close association with the Christian right in the United States. She served on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In early August 2016, Evans published an editorial for Vox defending her "pro-life Christian" position and support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Evans, who has two children, was placed in a medically-induced coma in April 2019 following an infection that caused seizures. She died on May 4 of complications from swelling of her brain.


  • Evans, Rachel Held (2010) Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan ISBN 9780310293996. Republished in 2014 as Faith Unraveled ISBN 9780310339175
  • Evans, Rachel Held (2012) A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc. ISBN 9781595553676
  • Evans, Rachel Held (2015) Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc. ISBN 9780718022136
  • Evans, Rachel Held (2018) Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc. ISBN 9780718022327


  • Garrison, Greg (November 14, 2014) "Rachel Held Evans, a Ruffner Mountain girl turned bestselling author, returns to speak at church on Sunday." The Birmingham News
  • "Rachel Held Evans" (April 21, 2019) Wikipedia - accessed April 22, 2019
  • Koplowitz, Howard (April 20, 2019) "Rachel Held Evans, bestselling Christian author and Birmingham native, in intensive care." The Birmingham News
  • Dias, Elizabeth & Sam Roberts (May 4, 2019) "Rachel Held Evans, Voice of the Wandering Evangelical, Dies at 37." The New York Times
  • Wan, William (May 6, 2019) "What we know about the death of popular Christian writer Rachel Held Evans." The Washington Post

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