Thursday, September 21, 2006

Evangelicals Afraid of Being Evangelicals

This story reminds me of the jokes prevalent 25 years ago; namely,

* Q: Who is an evangelical? A: The son of a fundamentalist.

* And, Q: What is an evangelical? A: That's a fundamentalist who's moved to the suburbs.

Both jokes underscored the tendency of Christians to hide from their own heritage in order to be less obvious to the non-believing culture around them. The serious implication of the jokes was that a modern Christian's self-esteem, confidence and sense of purpose had become inordinately connected to the opinions of the world.

Well, this "run for cover" attitude seems to be getting worse.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) issued an interesting press release today about a recent survey done by Baylor University. According to CWA, the survey found that "that fewer believers want to be labeled “evangelical.” In a cultural environment of increasing bias against evangelicals, less than half of those who say that their beliefs are “evangelical” (33 percent) use that label to describe themselves (15 percent). Further, just over 2 percent of those same “evangelicals” are willing to say that the title “reflects their religious identity.”

“Sadly, some Biblically orthodox believers are unwilling to proudly affirm their faith. They lack the self-confidence to boldly challenge the negative bias; they don’t want to be called ‘evangelical’ or ‘religious right,’” said Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute. “Others,” Crouse added, “prefer different labels –– for instance, some prefer ‘born-again’ (28.5 percent); others ‘theologically conservative’ (17.5 percent). With so many different categories, the numbers don’t reflect the strength of the true believers.”

“Amazingly, the old stereotypes still exist,” said Crouse. “Today’s pseudo-sophisticates view Biblical orthodoxy with disdain and/or hostility. The Washington Post, reporting on the Baylor survey, noted that those who view God as ‘engaged and punishing’ are more likely to ‘have lower incomes and less education, to come from the South and to be white evangelicals or black Protestants.’ Such statements –– implying that Southerners, white evangelicals and black Protestants are poor and uneducated –– reinforce old prejudices and continue the negative stereotypes about true believers...”

Read the rest of the CWA statement here.