I don't ever remember hearing the word Evangelical growing up. If I did, it was always an adjective, as in "That guy sure loves sharing his faith. He is very evangelical." In college I think I may have read the word in passing and began to suspect that people were starting to use it to describe a distinct group of people. Then in late 2000, after the election that put George W. Bush into the White House, all the media outlets were talking about this powerful group of millions of Americans who refer to themselves as Evangelical.
During this time I began to wonder, "Am I an Evangelical?" Politically I voted the same way these people did, because I share with them many of the same socially conservative values such as preferential treatment for rights of the unborn over and above any perceived rights of their mothers (with exceptions,) and the belief that institutions of faith are better equipped (and have a better track record) to tackle the ills of society.
But when I think about my day to day life, my conversations, beliefs about God, number of adult beverages I consume and the excessive use of language that many consider offensive, it's hard to believe I am an Evangelical. I still hold to the belief that Mary was a virgin when she was conceived and that after Jesus died he literally came back alive and, in between those two events, many miraculous things happened on the watch of Jesus. I do believe the way of Christ is the absolute best way to live. But the only true way? I've yet to come to a conclusion, and may never. This last fact puts me at sharp odds with most known as Evangelical.
Am I an Evangelical? I'm not sure. It's kind of cool that they are getting all the attention and it would be neat to be a part of that. I was telling a friend last week how interesting it is that much of the print and visual media are obsessed with a group of people and way of living that was the cornerstone of how I grew up. So if it gets me a book deal, yeah, maybe I'll be an evangelical. I'm not quite sure they want me, though.
And I refuse to go back to the t-shirts.
Do you consider yourself an Evangelical?