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Author Rachel Held Evans dies at age 37

Rachel Held Evans Facebook/Rachel Held Evans

Author Rachel Held Evans dies at age 37

Rachel Held Evans, an author and blogger popular with theologically liberal Christians, died Saturday at a hospital in Nashville, Tenn., after a brief illness. She was 37. On April 19, her husband, Dan Evans, announced that doctors had placed his wife in a medically induced coma after she began “exhibiting unexpected symptoms” and “experiencing constant seizures” after being treated for an infection. Doctors, according to her husband, attempted to wean her off of the coma medication this week, but her condition worsened. He said that “extensive swelling of her brain … caused severe damage and ultimately wasn’t survivable.”

The Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, a former Lutheran pastor known for her irreverent and profane writings, including her endorsement of porn, was at Evans’ bedside. “We were able to surround her last night. Offered her our touch and tears and song. I anointed her with oil,” Bolz-Weber tweeted Saturday. “She was and is well loved.”

Evans was raised in a conservative Christian home and attended Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn., where she met and married her husband, but she began to question her faith openly and write about it extensively, gaining a large following in liberal Christian circles. In 2012, she wrote the New York Times bestseller A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master,” where she made light of traditional male and female roles prescribed in the Bible.

Evans was also a graduate of the World Journalism Institute in 2001. “While we disagreed theologically, she was a fluid and engaging writer,” said Robert Case, the former director of WJI, WORLD News Group’s program that prepares Christian journalists for work in secular and Christian media. “I found her to be compelling and, at times, prickly but always respectful and engaging. I was proud to call her an alum of WJI.”

Pastor, blogger, and author Trevin Wax shared his memories of Evans on Twitter: “The two of us sparred online—in public and in private interactions—over the years. She was always friendly even when we had sharp disagreements. I always felt like her pushback and our debates sharpened me as a thinker and a writer, and I was grateful for that engagement.” He added, “What an awful reminder of how fragile we are. Lord, be with her family.”

In addition to Evans’ husband, her two young children, a 3-year-old boy and a nearly 1-year-old girl, survive her.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to include reaction to Evans’ death.

Mickey McLean

Mickey is WORLD’s executive editor for audience engagement. He previously was the executive editor for WORLD Digital. Mickey resides in Greensboro, N.C.



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Unexpected death at a young age is always tragic.  I’m so sorry for her family.  But death is a pretty certain outcome of life.  I hope we all are reminded to live like we are dying...because we are.  And to hope in Jesus, because He is the only hope that lasts.

And some of these comments crack me up!  Especially from Big Jim...made me laugh out loud!

Steve Shive

Thanks Mickey for this balanced obit. Comments are also interesting and revelatory on their own merits. You have struck a chord with what appears to me to be a balanced factual article.


Maybe the devil killed her because in the end she began to see the light again. It makes one wonder. 

I agree that there are many churches that have many problems. I feel it's because the people chosen to lead are chosen for the wrong reasons. I have attended evang., baptist, methodist, lutheran, catholic, orthodox, and non-denom. churches. (It's what happens when you are married twice and with child.) I've seen way too much and have many concerns for places of worship. But churches that are ok with people who live together in sin, who have homosexual relations, women who go to church with their breasts exposed, stuff that is an abomination to the Lord. Yes, we are to love all, but not to accept continuing sins as ok because God loves you. Yes, we all sin, but that doesn't make it ok. God didn't say go and continue to sin. He said go and sin no more. 

I don't know it all. I'm just saying what I feel about sinners and churches who lead them, or fail to lead them. 



Well said, Leslie.


Linda, this was a fair and honest obituary, there are no inaccuracies, there is no Pharasaism.

Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners but he most certainly did not condone sin. When you condone sin as she did, it doesn't matter how much you "identify with Jesus."


Mickey, when you read Luke 5:30 who do you identify with? “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”  I think Rachel tried to identify with Jesus and follow his example.  I’m sad to say, you sound more like the sect of Pharisees in this shameful attempt of an obituary. (Have you actually read any of her books?)  I have subscribed to a World Magazine for longer than I can remember.  This is the first time I have thought it was time to cancel my subscription.  


While the dark spiritual overtones related to Rachel's choices and company are hard to dismiss, my sympathies are with her husband and two small children.  May they somehow know His comfort at this difficult time...