‘This is nothing like the faith I entered into’: Ex-megachurch pastor explains his path away from conservatism
John Pavlovitz (Facebook)

A left-leaning pastor has gained an increasingly wide audience since the election of President Donald Trump -- but his journey away from conservatism began years earlier.

John Pavlovitz, pastor of North Raleigh Community Church in North Carolina, grew up Catholic in Syracuse with a sense that some groups of people were blessed by God, while others weren't, reported Indy Week.

Black people, LGBT people, poor people, addicts and atheists "all were to be avoided or feared, or at least approached with great skepticism," he told the newspaper.

But Pavlovitz's worldview began to change in college, studying graphic design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and after his brother came out as gay, and both he and his parents accepted his sibling.

"It was a gradual deconstruction of my faith," Pavlovitz said. "You look at one isolated area of the Bible, for example, then realize, Well, if that doesn't mean what I was taught it meant, what other areas of my spiritual journey was I taking for granted? So you start digging into it, and you find yourself exploring all areas of your belief system."

Pavlovitz found his way back to religion after getting engaged, and he eventually served as youth pastor at a North Carolina church -- but his views grew increasingly progressive.

"I think we all have the same pull toward protecting humanity," Pavlovitz said. "If you're a person who believes in equality that transcends gender or faith traditions, you'll find something that appeals to you."

He was fired from the megachurch several years ago, and the blog he'd previously started writing grew in readership -- which exploded Nov. 9, 2016, the day after Trump was elected.

"That day, a lot of people were searching on Google, and they found me," Pavlovitz said, modestly leaving out a plug by pop singer Katy Perry, another former conservative Christian, for his post "This Is Why We Grieve Today."

Pavlovitiz, the author of "A Bigger Table," said his readers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but he believes many of them instinctively feel disconnected currently from political and religious life.

"People say to me, 'I've been in the church my whole life, but you're finally giving me permission to wrestle with things,'" Pavlovitz said. "Right now, there's a voice of Christianity that seems loud because it has the White House behind it. But there's a large population in America that thinks, This is nothing like the faith I entered into."