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Words and Definitions Matter

The NYT published an op-ed about Billy Graham today. It’s not particularly complimentary thankfully. But what it does, whether due to editing or unconscious choice is to continue the characterization of evangelical Christianity as all Christianity. Throughout the article Graham is referred to as Christian, not evangelical Christian (until the final paragraph), not fundamentalist, not Protestant, but Christian. It annoys me beyond reason that evangelicals/pentecostalists/fundamentalists/whatever the fuck the Duggars are have successfully managed to portray themselves as the only True Christians for so long that it’s become the default.

Perhaps I am mistaken in my thinking that most people who subscribe to the christian faith would, if asked their religion, reply with their denomination rather than the overarching belief system. Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Quaker, Mennonite, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist - there isn’t a shortage of sects to choose from. But somehow Billy Graham and Joel Osteen and so many other assholes are simply Christian*. It’s so breathtakingly crass and incredibly exclusionary. Like really, the umpty millions of other people who fall under the umbrella of Christianity are what, just bullshitters?

I’d be less annoyed if it wasn’t part of a concerted effort on the part of evangelicals and religious conservatives to insert themselves and their version of faith into the American experience, government and justice system. They claim the high ground and pretend that their way is the only way even as the leaders they anoint (cough that nasty orange hairball cough) blatantly break every commandment or behavioral requirement that they wish to impose on the rest of us sinners.


I don’t really know how to change this crap except to be aware of it and to call it out.

*As a total non expert on religion I would argue that the version of Christianity they espouse is so far from the actual teachings of Jesus Christ it should be considered heresy, but I don’t want to get derailed from my initial point.

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