Saturday, November 04, 2006

Quick survey for my evangelical friends

If you're around this weekend:

1. Had you ever heard of Ted Haggard before this week?
2. If a stranger asked you your religious affiliation, would you use the word "evangelical" to describe yourself?

Thanks in advance.

9 comments:

Deanna said...

Answers:
1) Yes, once. We had a missions speaker who is an attendee of New Life Church (and who is also a missions director for YWAM), and he mentioned the senior pastor by name.
2) No, I usually just say "Christian" and if they ask for a denomination, I say "none." Hee hee.

Eric said...

1. Scarcely remember the mention by the YWAM missions director. I think I saw his name come up when I was reading about the movie "Jesus Camp".

2. I usually just say, "not Catholic" ;) Just kidding! I probably would not normally use that description (evangelical), but it would be accurate by its basic definition. Unfortunately, it's now a term that has become pejorative in use.

Juliet said...

Okay, you guys blew my theory that neither I nor anyone I knew had ever heard of him. But once in Deanna's extraordinarily well-remembered lifetime is not very much. ;)

I was debating this guy on another blog who was trying to make this sound much more significant than I think it is, and he said Haggard was one of the top five evangelical leaders in the country because "he's president of their organization, the National Association of Evangelicals!" And I thought 1. I've barely heard of the NAE and I don't think I know anyone in it, and 2. I don't think most people in our group of friends identify themselves as evangelicals. I use that term more than any of you do, I think, very self-consciously, because I'm in religious studies and because I coverted to Catholicism (though I think of myself as sort of an evangelical Catholic).

When I first started meeting grad students from other parts of the country, I realized that the Northwest (possibly the West in general) has an unusually high proportion of nondenominational churches and people who go to them. People are much more aware of denominational affiliations here. I think evangelical is a fairly definitive term for something so broad (and not always pejorative--usually "fundamentalist" is more so, and I don't think of any of us that way because there's such a long way to go before the very fundamentalist end of the spectrum), but that most evangelicals, unless prompted to describe themselves as such, would sooner call themselves "Christian" or members of whatever denomination they're affiliated with, if they are.

Juliet said...

"Converted," not "coverted" to Catholicism. I was not covert. :)

Laurie said...

1.)I had heard of him, but couldn't say how.
2.)I usually say, "Christian, but not a crazy, fundamentalist, evangelical--Does that sound defensive? I'm sorry, I just want to be your friend and not offend anyone. I love everybody and try not to judge--Does that sound defensive? Did I mention that I want to be your friend, and I want you to think I'm a cool kind of Christian--Does that sound desparate?" Okay, not really, but sometimes I think all that. Pretty pathetic. :)

Juliet said...

Laurie, I used to think the same thing too. That's one thing I like about being Catholic (although if this had been the only reason I'd converted, that would be lame): people can't really pigeonhole you because there are Mel-Gibson's-dad kind of Catholics and there are peace-and-justice Catholics and there are I-was-raised-Catholic-and-I'm-bitter-but-I'm-still-Catholic Catholics, and so on. Of course now there are people who assume all Catholics are partially responsible for pedophile priests, so I desperately do not want people to think I am in favor of pedophilia.

Anyway, I'll stop soon, but I wanted to mention one more thing, which is that in my research on this dude I'd never heard about till like five days ago, I discovered he's kind of a moderate evangelical. Like, he's concerned about abortion and gay stuff, but he's also concerned about the environment, poverty, AIDS and all that. (See this post over at Get Religion, a blog about religion in the media.) So the people who think that this is a big blow to the religious right, or that it will keep conservative evangelicals away from the polls, aren't attentive to the fact that evangelicalism isn't a homogenous movement and Haggard doesn't necessarily fit all their preconceptions very neatly.

eric said...

So the people who think that this is a big blow to the religious right, or that it will keep conservative evangelicals away from the polls, aren't attentive to the fact that evangelicalism isn't a homogeneous movement and Haggard doesn't necessarily fit all their preconceptions very neatly.

i.e.: Howard Dean, New York Times, Molly Ivins, etc.

Ben said...

1.) Yes, and I knew his face (with that somewhat insincere smile and plastered hair), but I couldn't have told you what he stood for or anything substantial about him. I knew the name as part of the "Dobson axis" of politico-Christians, and as a source of quotes I don't quite agree with in news stories but are somehow supposed to "represent" me. I didn't know about his predilection for the fruits of homegrown chemistry ...

Now, if NT Wright, Richard B. Hays, etc., had a similar issue, I'd be kinda discouraged. But nobody in the media listens to them anyway.

2.) I have no problem describing myself as an evangelical. I like the word because of its linguistic and historical roots. I once recommended an EvFree church to a friend who recoiled simply because of the name, so I may be kind of clueless.

Juliet said...

Ted Haggard: The Scandal of the Evangelical Hair

Richard Hays is cool. I read Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul for my biblical interpretation comp.