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  • JJP

    I too hate and will not fight to save the term “evangelical.” It is corrupted by right-wing politics and based more in fear than anything else. But I certainly can’t get cozy with progressives either. Any term or label you come up with will immediately be critiqued and type-cast. As long as the fight for Christian identity is fought at large and in the media, it will loose to ridicule and misunderstanding. The way to battle it is in the community, in neighborhoods, and with individuals. It’s easy to hate/misunderstand Christians at large, but the Christian neighbor you know who is kind and generous may sway your opinion. So let the big media names keep talking, and I will keep apologizing for them and distancing myself from them, all while I help my neighbor see the real Jesus, not the one they talk about.

  • “What is clear, she said, is that the evangelical Christian movement “wields huge influence in America.”

    And I am only one of the millions of Americans
    who have quit the church. The influence of Christianity on America is neither good nor practical.

    Not only is God clearly a culturally enforced illusion – but the various versions of Christianity are based on wishes, prejudices, biases and silly traditions – not realities.
    American would do well to follow other countries and dial back the religious influence as well as the silly dogmas and beliefs.

  • Doc Anthony

    The label “Evangelical”, just like the labels “Christian”, “Catholic”, “Protestant”, and “Mainline”, really don’t mean much of anything anymore.

    Biblical and spiritual **confusion** has become the new American religion. That’s not just true during election season, but also before and after election season as well.

    For that reason, I like Barna’s solution of asking respondents about nine specific theological criteria. Just narrow things down a little. Ask some survey questions that get a little closer to what people have got cooking around here (and what kind of questionable ingredients they’re using when they think nobody’s looking!).

  • Neon Genesis

    While I appreciate the efforts of evangelical leaders to condemn Donald Trump’s racism, to be blunt, evangelicals only have themselves to blame for this disaster. Evangelical Christianity has been fostering a culture of hate and exclusivity for centuries and even the original leaders this article praises so much were guilty of much of the same extremism, if not even more so. Progressive Christians and secularists have been warning the Religious Right about this for decades now but they branded them as heretics and blasphemers. And now that the bigotry and hate is no longer under their control, only now do they realize what a mistake they made when it’s already too late to do anything about it.

  • Pete

    Yes, they are very much to blame for their own position, but I also think the emergence of progressives and “centrist evangelicals” as David Gushee posits reveals they are not all part of the problem and are pushing back against both past errors and current stereotypes.

  • historyguy1967

    Excellent article that makes some important distinctions about what is and is not “Evangelical”, and why so many are abandoning that term and its baggage. The historic merger of Evangelicals with angry Republican politics that started in the late 1970s has gradually but surely driven me away…and this has only accelerated over the past 8 years, with the onset of Obama Derangement Syndrome.

    One minor historical quibble (that does not in any way detract from the point that Evangelicals have long been involved in social change movements), William Wilberforce was actually British activist that helped end the slave trade in the English colonial world of the early 19th century. He had nothing to do with slavery in the U.S.

  • Observer

    This article is one of best that I have seen on the term “Evangelical” and its history. It has been misunderstood in the modern media especially those who have little history of the variety of Christian denominations. The term has been abused by politicians pandering to certain religious groups. Groups that often do not understand the gospel of Christ.

  • D S

    I wouldn’t say “nothing”. He was emulated by the American abolitionist leaders and served as an international leader of slave abolition for a long time after Great Britain abolished slavery.

  • There is no historical quibble too minor — thank you for pointing that out! We’ve edited the sentence to make it clearer.

  • Neon Genesis

    They might not all be part of the problem but they are certainly late in the game.

  • Cyril Manuel

    Hey Max or should I call you ‘Mad’? Sorry, only joking… ;-). Christianity has always transcended culture. The various cultures in Africa alone testify to that. But not convinced? South America, the number of different cultures in Europe. Do think they’re different? Check out how difficult it is running the EU? Don’t forget the Eastern Orthodox countries. Then there’s the Christians in Asia- China, India, phillipines etc. Have I covered all the continents, except Antarctica of course? Culturally enforced? History shows time and again – when one culture is forced upon another, rebellion always ensues. I haven’t even talked about the cultural diversity among the other monotheist faiths. People recognise a truth…for themselves personally. That’s what keeps them there. The ones who fall off..I can’t begin to know why they abandoned their faith and it’s not mine to judge. I do agree with your subsequent comment re traditions but then after all, we are only human…..