Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal have been best friends since first grade and host the popular YouTube show Good Mythical Morning. They grew up in religious households in rural North Carolina and were very involved with their church youth groups in high school.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Rhett and Link started questioning their faith in college in the mid to late 1990s and ultimately left organized Christianity in their 20s.
In this approximately 3000 word article, we will take an in-depth look at Rhett and Link’s religious upbringing, their time at college when their beliefs began to change, their process of deconstructing faith, and finally when they ultimately left the church.
Rhett and Link’s Religious Upbringing
Attending Church and Youth Group
Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal grew up in the small town of Buies Creek, North Carolina in Christian families. From a young age, they attended Sunday school and youth group activities at their local church.
Both Rhett and Link have spoken fondly about their experiences in youth group and the friendships they formed there.
In their popular YouTube series Good Mythical Morning, Rhett and Link have reminisced about attending Lockspur United Methodist Church as kids. They described it as a small country church where they sang hymns and memorized Bible verses every Sunday.
The church was very much the center of their social lives growing up.
Questioning Small Parts of Faith as Teenagers
As Rhett and Link entered their teenage years, they began to question small parts of their Christian faith. This is a normal part of development for many kids raised in religious households. However, Rhett and Link never rejected their religion as a whole during this questioning phase.
In an interview, Link revealed there was a brief period when he doubted whether all non-Christians would go to hell. But his doubts were short-lived, and he quickly recommitted to his Christian beliefs.
Rhett has said he also questioned certain biblical interpretations, but remained grounded in his faith.
Staying Committed Christians Throughout High School
Despite some introspection during their early teens, Rhett and Link stayed devoted to Christianity throughout high school. They were leaders in their youth group – Rhett played guitar while Link led skits and games. Both young men also went on Christian mission trips to places like Guyana and Hawaii.
After graduation, they attended North Carolina State University together. They remained active members of a Baptist Collegiate Ministry group there. Rhett and Link have always emphasized that well into young adulthood, their Christian faith was a core part of their identities.
Questioning Faith in College
Attending North Carolina State University introduced Rhett and Link to new perspectives that challenged their Christian upbringing. As they engaged with ideas outside their religious bubble, cracks began forming in their faith.
Introduction to New Perspectives at NC State
In the 1990s, NC State offered a secular environment full of scientific theories that contradicted Rhett and Link’s literal interpretation of the Bible. As they studied evolution and the Big Bang, they struggled to reconcile this knowledge with their faith.
Rhett recounts feeling less restricted at college with no one monitoring his spiritual life. This newfound independence led him to question beliefs he previously accepted without scrutiny.
Difficulty Reconciling Faith and Science
Learning about evolution and an allegorical view of Genesis thoroughly unsettled Rhett’s fundamentalist beliefs. With his religion professors providing little help harmonizing faith and science, he felt pressure to choose one or the other instead of seeking integration.
Meanwhile, Link took a more philosophical approach, exploring the historical context of biblical texts. But like Rhett, he too grappled with perceiving these classes as aiming “to disprove Christianity.” Their trust in Scripture steadily eroded.
Rhett’s Crisis of Faith After Studying the Bible Critically
The most damaging blow to Rhett’s faith came when a religious studies professor encouraged critiquing biblical texts. This led Rhett to question their divine origins – he wondered whether Scripture derived from regular people instead of God.
As Rhett studied potential embellishments and contradictions in the Gospels, his belief in biblical inerrancy collapsed. He could no longer confidently view the Bible as the error-free word of God. What remained was skepticism toward the supernatural claims of Christianity.
The Gradual Process of Deconstruction
Link’s Doubt After Negative Church Experiences
As documented in an emotional YouTube video, Link started questioning his faith after some negative experiences at church. He felt unwelcomed by fellow churchgoers who judged him for pursing creative endeavors.
Over time, these experiences planted seeds of doubt, making Link feel disconnected from the church community he grew up in.
Feeling Disconnected from the Church Community
Both Link and Rhett expressed feeling increasingly disconnected from their childhood church communities in young adulthood. As their perspectives changed and core beliefs shifted, they no longer found themselves fitting neatly into the culture and doctrine of their childhood Southern Baptist churches.
This growing feeling of alienation was pivotal in their gradual separation from Christianity.
In a 2020 video, Rhett explained: “We just didn’t belong there anymore. That community just didn’t feel like home.” This sentiment was a crucial sign of their deconstruction journey away from faith.
Realizing Their Core Beliefs Had Changed
In their 2021 memoir, Rhett and Link detail their gradual realization that their core beliefs had profoundly changed from those they grew up with. Key tenants of faith, such as biblical innerancy, no longer aligned with their evolved perspectives shaped by new experiences and knowledge.
This marked a definitive point of no return in their separation from Christianity.
Letting go of childhood beliefs resulted in painful cognitive dissonance. But ultimately, Rhett and Link felt liberated living more genuinely to their inner truth. While the deconstruction process took time, their developed worldviews ultimately could not be reconciled with Christianity.
Leaving the Church Entirely
Stopping Church Attendance in Their 20s
Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal met each other in first grade in North Carolina and bonded over their Christian faith. They attended church together throughout their childhood and teenage years. However, after high school, their commitment to the church began to waver.
In their early 20s, after moving away for college, both Rhett and Link stopped regularly attending church services. This marked the beginning of their journey away from organized religion.
Letting Go of Christian Label and Beliefs
In their 30s, Rhett and Link began to seriously question many of the core doctrines of Christianity. They slowly let go of beliefs like biblical inerrancy, the concept of hell, and the idea that faith in Jesus is the only path to God.
Eventually, they no longer felt comfortable identifying themselves as Christians.
In a YouTube video, Rhett stated, “I just got tired of telling myself that I believed things that, deep down, I didn’t really believe.” Link echoed this sentiment, explaining how he reached a point where he couldn’t reconcile what he truly believed with the tenants of Christianity.
Embracing Their Identity as Former Christians
Today, Rhett and Link openly talk about their journeys away from faith on their YouTube show Ear Biscuits. They have embraced the labels “former Christian” and “exvangelical.” Rhett has stated that he technically considers himself an agnostic atheist, while Link says he is more in the spiritual but not religious camp.
In a 2021 Instagram post, Link wrote, “We’re grateful for our past experiences but continuing to grow.” The duo hopes that by being transparent about their shifting beliefs, they can give others permission to question their own faith journeys without shame or fear of judgment.
In summary, Rhett and Link grew up as devoted Christians but began questioning and doubting their faith while studying different worldviews and perspectives in college. This led to a gradual deconstruction process throughout their 20s as they moved away from church involvement and ultimately let go of Christianity entirely.
Though raised religious, their spiritual journeys led them down a secular path. Their popular YouTube show focuses on comedy and lighthearted fun rather than their religious backgrounds.