As fans of Christian author Rachel Held Evans mourned her death on Saturday at age 37, many women came forward with testimonials of how her writing and personal encouragement changed the trajectory of their lives.
Because of Evans’s writing about the place of women in Christianity, the women wrote, they are pastors now. Or they are Christian authors because she promoted their early work and told them to keep going. Or they held on to their faith despite their doubts because she wrote so eloquently of her own doubts.
Because of Rachel Held Evans, they wrote over and over — until it became a hashtag, #BecauseofRHE, which trended on Twitter over the weekend.
Evans came from a conservative evangelical background, where most interpret the Bible to say that women cannot lead congregations. Evans challenged that interpretation — a challenge so powerful that some women said she led them right to seminary.
Some paid tribute to Evans by posting snippets of emails she sent them over the years, part of her consistent habit of lifting up other Christian writers, especially those outside the evangelical mainstream.
Evans wrote about a range of issues, including feminism, sexuality, politics, race and scripture. That writing spoke to a range of people: evangelicals and mainline Protestants, those totally unsure of where they fell on the spectrum of faith, men and women, gay and straight, conservative and liberal.