In a 2017 Pew Research Center poll, Americans expressed greater approval than in 2014 for every religious group — Jews, Catholics, mainline Protestants, Mormons, Muslims, atheists and more — except for evangelicals, who stayed flat at a 61 percent approval rating.
In the past, “evangelical” was a useful marker of theological and cultural similarities across denominations — a word providing something broader than “Southern Baptist” but more specific than “Christian.” The term “evangelical” has helped parents comb through book catalogues, choose schools for their children and decide what charities to support.
Discomfort with the term “evangelical” began in some quarters with the Moral Majority in the Reagan years, which helped make “evangelical” synonymous with the Republican Party.Most recently, after Senate candidate Roy Moore drew strong majorities of white evangelicals in Alabama despite reports of his pursuit of teenage girls when he was in his 30s, some Christians across the country said they weren’t sure they wanted to be associated with the word anymore.President Donald Trump, left, and Jerry Falwell Jr., President of Liberty University, pose for photos with members of gospel choir Lu Praise during a commencement at Liberty University May 13, 2017 in Lynchburg, Virginia.(Alex Wong/Getty Images) Even two of the grandchildren of Billy Graham, the famed evangelist who helped popularize the term, are abandoning the word. sometimes close-mindedness and superiority,” said granddaughter Jerushah Armfield, a writer and pastor’s wife in South Carolina.“The term has come to represent white Republicans and . Jen Hatmaker, a Texas-based author with a large evangelical following, sees “a mass exodus” from the label in her community.