The word, evangel, comes from the Greek euangelion, which means "good news." In the Christian New Testament it refers to the gospel of Jesus Christ which is supposed to be "good news" to the world.
Evangelicals, therefore, are bearers of this Good News. It applies to all those who claim the title, Christian. However, some years back it was co-opted by "conservative" Christians who stressed the infalibility of the Bible and certain doctrines which they cherry-picked to suit their inclinations. For example, they chose John 3:16 to be their rallying cry: people must be "born again" in order to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Conservative Christians thus distanced themselves from more traditional Christianity by giving this verse extraordinary power in their theological tradition. All persons who have not had a "conversion" experience and been born again are suspect and not "real" Christians.
They also co-opted the term, evangelical. Because, unlike other traditional Christian groups, they stressed the need to convert everyone and ensure everyone has a born-again experience, they decided that they, alone, were the true evangelicals bringing good news to the world.
And that's why people like Billy Graham and other hucksters travel around the world holding huge rallies designed to do only one thing - convert people to "evangelical" Christianity.
Somewhere along the way, evangelicals became puffed up with pride believing that they alone were doing God's work. As they became more numerous, they began to force their beliefs on other people. The more power they had, the more successful they were.
Years ago, I confronted a public middle school principal in Texas about his insistence on reading the Bible during the morning announcements. When I suggested this was illegal and unconstitutional, he proudly stood his ground as an evangelical Christian and told me to "jump in the lake" or something similar.
I've thought for some time that the good news brought by evangelicals wasn't very good at all. It was totalitarian, disdainful of other people, and quite often disregarded the rights of non-evangelicals.
According to the latest statistics, 81% of evangelicals in this country voted for da Trampf. In other words, a huge majority of people who identify as conservative Christians, true Christians, voted for a thrice-married sexual predator, a con man and grifter who is a pathological liar, a man with no government experience, a man with an ego the size of Russia, a man with strong ties to Russia's leaders, a man whose word cannot be trusted, a man who lives his life to make enormous sums of money but gives away very little, a man who is, in every respect, the antithesis of what a Christian should be and who stands firmly opposed to the teachings of Jesus.
Evangelicals today are not bearers of good news; they are the epitome of bad news. We can understand the 81% voting for da Trampf when we realize they operate and believe the same things da Trampf does. They are hateful and dismissive of people different from themselves. They are wrapped up in fear of homosexuals, Muslims, liberals, blacks, latinos, and the way the world is moving which they perceive as the wrong direction.
Unfortunately, for Christianity, the evangelicals have despoiled the "evangelical" name and the Christian faith. They have proven they are not "born again" but are self-serving political creatures who will sell out their Lord for a bigger piece of the pie or for the pie-in-the-sky promises of a fascist demagogue.
They remind me very much of the story in the Christian Bible, where Jesus' favorite disciple, Peter, denies knowing his Lord three times, because he was afraid.
Evangelicals today have lined up with Peter, not with Jesus. Their shame is palpable and their recovery is doubtful. Traitors are generally greeted by the words, "Go to hell!"