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One of my pandemic discoveries was the podcast, Mega. It’s a satirical podcast for the fictional megachurch Twin Hills, hosted by church staff Hally LaBonte and Gray Hoss (comedians Holly Laurent and Greg Hess). Gray leads the teen youth group, Climax, while Hally works as a weekend producer for the church.

Greg Hess and Holly Laurent

Each episode, Hally and Gray update each other on their lives and ministries and talk about what’s new at the church before inviting on a special guest, someone involved in ministry at Twin Hills. It could be a fellow employee at the church, a volunteer, or a member (all played by various comedians including Cecily Strong, Jason Mantzoukas, and others). These “guests” have included the oldest member of the church, the church’s barista, a touring Christian band, the pastor for Twin Hill’s Spanish services, a leader of a true crime bible study, and the church’s very own influencer.

The more you listen, the more you learn about the world of Twin Hills. The mysterious and revered Pastor Steve leads the congregation — always much too busy and important to show up to Hally and Greg’s podcast though they hold out hope that one week he might join them. Over the course of the podcast, we get hints at Steve’s extravagant lifestyle — multiple cars, homes, and a Norwegian au pair. Another recurring plot line involves Hally’s teenage son Day, who is starting to question his church’s beliefs and politics and pushing Hally to the edge with his questions. Day is the voice of reason on the show, though Hally and Gray are constantly dismissing his questions and concerns about evangelicalism in America.

Some of the podcast is absurd; some of it hits a little too close to home. In many ways, the podcast has the pulse of evangelicalism’s current failures, using satire to expose the absurdity and cruelty of the movement in recent years. They tackle issues of sexism and racism in evangelicalism and its embrace of far-right politics. They highlight the ways evangelicalism props up corrupt and abusive male leaders, covering for them and explaining away their vices.

In one memorable episode, Karen, the recently hired Director of Diversity, tries to figure out how to do her job. When asked what diversity is, she responds: “You know I didn’t know but I’m excited to find out.” She then extols the diversity of white people in the congregation — so many different hair colors and eye colors and also “there’s really not a lot of work to be done!” Gray, Hally, and Karen praise each other for their color blindness and praise their church for doing the bare minimum: “We have a director of diversity and have pretty much solved the racism crisis, at least on our campus!” Near the end of the episode, the truth comes out when Karen quips, “As much as I welcome diversity, I don’t trust anybody who doesn’t come from where I come from, who doesn’t, you know, look like me.” The podcast nails how white evangelicals totally miss the mark on combating racism and how they can be so tone deaf on the issue of diversity and racism.

The podcast doesn’t just tackle racism in the church but also a range of other issues, including evangelicals’ callous and dangerous response to the pandemic. We see Hally, a woman in leadership, commenting on how she’s treated at meetings. And she’s so close to a breakthrough in understanding the church’s misogyny. We see the Spanish-speaking congregants treated as second-class citizens, never allowed to meet Pastor Steve and relegated to a remote and forgotten space on the church’s campus. When COVID hits, Hally and Gray are at first concerned but soon lose interest — celebrating the church’s resumption of activities and services and their disregard for local public health recommendations.

Even when the podcast hits a little too close to home, there’s something refreshing and empowering about laughing about it. There were so many things I took so seriously when I was an evangelical that now looking back seem so silly, absurd, and inconsequential. The podcast has a way of exposing those absurdities while not letting evangelicals off the hook. And as Hally always says in the podcast, it’s a “true treat and a treasure” to finally laugh at it all.

Allison Vander Broek

Allison Vander Broek is a historian of American religion and politics. She recently graduated from Boston College with her doctorate in history. Her dissertation, Rallying the Right-to-Lifers: Grassroots Religion and Politics in the Building of a Broad-Based Right-to-Life Movement, 1960-1984, explored the origins of the right-to-life movement in the 1960s and its rise to national prominence.

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