Whose Evangelical?

Soong-Chan Rah’s article on “Salt, Light, and Social Change” in the November 2011 issue was of special interest. I take no fault with it, save this: It is a mistake to use “evangelicalism” as an all-encompassing word. Evangelicalism as practiced by Sojourners and evangelicalism as practiced by fundamentalists are not the same.

Secular media conflates the two, but Sojourners shouldn’t. “Fundamentalism” was a part of the lingua franca of Americana through much of the 20th century, but after 9/11 its usage became lethal. Fundamentalists were smart enough to understand their nomenclature needed redeeming, so they became “evangelicals.” They changed their identity but not their theology. They remain, as they were, biblical literalists.

People are free to believe as they choose. But Sojourners evangelicals, who believe in social justice, deserve to be identified as people holding to different values than their right-wing, reactionary brethren. Maybe, in delineating the difference, Sojourners can help secular media own up to its responsibility.

George Mitrovich
San Diego, California

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