Mere Orthodoxy

Here we go again: New York Times says White House door wide open for all 'evangelicals'

Here we go again: New York Times says White House door wide open for all 'evangelicals'

Before we dive -- yes, it's time to try again -- into another example of "Gosh, all those evangelicals sure do love Donald Trump" coverage, let's pause to, uh, separate the sheep from the goats.

If you understand that image, the odds are good that you are an evangelical or some other brand of Christian who has cracked open a Bible more than once.

Whatever. A few months ago, Sarah Pulliam Bailey of The Washington Post tweeted out a fun little link to a MereOrthodoxy.com "Are you an evangelical?" quiz that is kind of fun. Click here to take the test. (Or click here for her original tweet, which has some interesting comments.)

So I took the test, as a former Southern Baptist preacher's kid from the Jesus Movement era, and scored 10 out of 31. The site's judgement:

Spiritual but not religious: You are definitely not evangelical, but you might still have feelings that you associate with Jesus in some way when you are standing on a mountaintop or contemplating the ocean. 

Well, at least I know where I stand when writing about the press and its struggles to realize the complexities of evangelical identity in this day and age. I would have done better if it included a question asking how many Bruce Cockburn CDs are in my collection (I think I own every note the man has recorded).

Anyway, the New York Times recently (pre-National Prayer Breakfast) weighed in with another report on you know what. The headline: "Evangelicals, Having Backed Trump, Find White House ‘Front Door Is Open’." Once again, readers are told that all "evangelicals" backed Trump and, today, all of them are welcome at the White House." I am sure that will come as a shock to many.

However, this story is slightly better than that headline. At the very least, it acknowledges that even the early, core evangelical supporters of The Donald are a bit more complex than many would think. Hold that thought. First, here is a solid paragraph on why evangelical poll numbers remain high, when it comes to this White House. It starts with the prayer breakfast crowd, saying that the president stood:

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Weekend thinker with a punch line: Please take this 'You might be an evangelical if ...' quiz

Weekend thinker with a punch line: Please take this 'You might be an evangelical if ...' quiz

Sorry for the social stereotypes, but the video at the top of this post -- or the comedy riff at the heart of it -- was the first thing that I thought of a week or two ago when I saw a tweet from Sarah Pulliam Bailey of The Washington Post that proclaimed: "This is a fun quiz. Are you an evangelical?"

Obviously, that link went into my "GetReligion Guilt" file.

Of course, "Are you an evangelical?" isn't that far from, "You might be an evangelical if ..." You can understand how I guy (that would be me) who grew up in a Southern Baptist pastor's home in Texas would make the leap to Jeff Foxworthy.

Now, I realize that there already are lots of websites with one-liners built on this concept. For example, at the "Progressive Christian" site at Patheos you'll find examples such as these:

If you have strong opinions about when, precisely, Amy Grant “sold out,” then you might be an evangelical.
If the first time you saw your uncle’s shot-glass collection, you wondered where he got all those fancy communion cups, then …
If you’ve ever forgotten to set your clock back at the end of Daylight Savings Time and your first thought at seeing the empty church parking lot was, “Oh no, I’ve missed the Rapture,” then …
If you never watched “Highway to Heaven,” not because it was too preachy, but because it aired on Wednesday nights, then …
If you knew that “Wednesday nights” in the previous joke was a reference to prayer meeting, then …

But, semi-seriously, there is a reason that your GetReligionistas have dedicated so much digital ink over the years to discussions of what the word "evangelical" does or does not mean.

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