The End of “Evangelical”
[A]s the decades passed and American church leaders in almost all denominations became less interested in traditional Christian doctrines and more interested in what some scholars have come to call moralistic therapeutic deism, a larger and larger proportion of white evangelicals became what Pew Research calls “God-and-Country Believers.” These folks, almost all of whom are white, may not attend church often or at all, and they may not be interested in, or even aware of, the beliefs that have typically characterized evangelical Christians, but they know this much: They believe in God, and they believe in America, and they love Donald Trump because he speaks blunt Truth to culturally elite Power, and when asked by pollsters whether they are evangelicals, they say yes.
This transformation of evangelical from a theological position to a “racial and political” one is not just bad for serious Christians; it’s also a prime driver of the increasing hostility of liberals to religion in almost any form. Those who have insisted on yoking (a very vague notion of) God and (a very specific account of) country may soon find themselves dispossessed of both.
Just before the past presidential election, I argued that the proper response to those who have stolen our religious identity is to “steal it back.” But since then, I have come to doubt whether that’s possible. This strange and inadvertent conspiracy of Trump supporters and journalists may have put an end to a useful term that once described a vital tradition in the Christian faith. The question of who is and who is not an evangelical should matter to everyone concerned with American politics and the American social order; it matters especially to those who wonder how we got here. But it might not matter much longer.
Alan Jacobs, The End of “Evangelical”.
“[A] prime driver of the increasing hostility of liberals to religion in almost any form” is my sense as well. Jerry Falwell may have as much to answer for as does his sorry-ass son Junior.