Wednesday, May 16, 2007

IDNTIMWYTIM: "evangelical"

BBC reports: Evangelicals split on global warming.

This is true: evangelical Christians are indeed split on global warming.

And it's a worthy topic for a news story. Evangelicals owe most of their newsworthiness to the role many of them have played in the rise of the Christian Right; as such, it's quite common for people who are unfamiliar with the evangelical movement / community /subculture to see it as a monolithic group that is totally unified on matters of theology and politics -- which it is not.

So, good idea for a news story. But the execution is questionable.

To illustrate this split among evangelicals, the story focuses on two groups which take opposing views. Choosing a group of evangelicals who thinks that global warming is not important (because it's not happening) is relatively easy: they went to (the now late) Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. As for a group of evangelicals who thinks that global warming is both happening and worthy worrying about, they went to Eastern Mennonite University.

Only problem being, Eastern Mennonite University is almost certainly not evangelical. Mennonites in general are not at all connected to the strains of Christianity that fall under the evangelical banner, and (apart from the BBC story) I can't find any webpage that refers to Eastern Mennonite University as evangelical.

Part of the problem here might be the vagueness of the term "evangelical". But semantic vagueness is no excuse for plain old sloppiness.

Another part of the problem might be that evangelicalism is a phenomenon that is probably largely foreign to the UK, especially the segment of British culture that populates the offices of the BBC. But this is the BBC, and we expect better from the BBC.

Especially when it's not all that hard to find an example of a group of evangelicals who are concerned about the environment. (Say, the Evangelical Environmental Network.)

(For more on the meaning of "evangelical", and an IDNTIMWYTIM going in another direction, see here.)

1 comment:

Clinton said...

another british publication.