Define 'evangelical,' yet again

Sorry 'bout this, but it's time for another picky post on religion-beat linguistics. But first, a question about one of the biggest and most important religion trends of the late 20th century. OK, readers, what is the form of faith that is -- through its rapid growth -- literally changing the face of South America? Does anyone recall that particular Pew Forum study that, justifiably so, generated so many headlines about five years ago? Right, that would be Pentecostal Christianity.

Now, Pentecostal and charismatic people are a pretty complex lot, since these are terms that can and do describe everyone from charismatic Catholics to Oneness Pentecostals have even have a unique (many would say heretical) view of the nature of the Godhead.

The latter also have interesting views on women and long hair.

Say what? With that in mind, let's check out this entire Associated Press report, which showed up all over the web because of its rather strange crime hook:

SAO PAULO -- Brazilian police say a thief cut off and stole a woman's long hair while she waited at a bus stop.

Police say the hair was virgin, meaning it had not been chemically treated, and will probably be sold for the production of wigs.

Inspector Jose Carlos Bezerra da Silva said Friday to Globo TV's G1 website that the woman was waiting for a bus in the central city of Goiania when the man used a knife-like weapon to cut the hair, which reached past her waist. She said she thought the man was going to steal her purse so she turned her back to him.

Silva said he'd never seen a theft like it in 20 years. He said the 24-year-old woman reported the case to police because she is evangelical and had to explain to her pastor why her hair wasn't long anymore.

Readers! What think ye? Has anyone out there heard of "evangelicals" emphasizing women needing to keep their hair long? I mean, even among homeschooling folks?

So what are the odds that this woman was a Pentecostal believer -- a Oneness, Apostolic Pentecostal believer in fact -- and not a generic "evangelical"?

I know, I know. "Evangelical" is vague and has little meaning these days. That's precisely my point.

In this case, the vague word it is also certainly inaccurate and makes the story weaker.

Correction, please.

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