Dictionary definition eu- good + angelos messenger -- American Heritage Dictionary, College Edition (1981) p. 453You can’t tell from the standardly capitalized title above, nor from the centuries-old Christian practice of appropriation, that “evangelical” can be understood to mean “good messenger” or “good message” without requiring a commitment to the content of that message. Indeed, most practicing American Christians of various sects recognize this possible neutrality when they forego challenge of their competitors who use the term “evangelical” to describe their own competing, likely specious, possibly heretical, efforts at proselytizing.
What every zealot worries most about is another zealot -- who is not a member of his own camp. This holds for religionists, their apostates -- e.g. Hitler and Stalin, who were brought up in religion -- and secularists, examples of which are available at any and many a TV talk show, think tank, corporation, laboratory or university.
Just as other businessmen are wary of new competitors, so have competing Peoples of the Book begun a very likely futile campaign to have sharia “outlawed” in legal practice (NYT, 7-31-11). They appear to be worried that Muslim American jurists, trained and sanctionable by the American Bar Association and higher courts, would somehow be able to permanently upset American traditions of Law. One need only note that even Christian jurists and legislators, despite many an attempt, have not managed to do that for very long:
a. Jim Crow lasted about 100 years.Even the public schools have been dragged into these conflicts via the path of curriculum controversy. The “intelligent design debate” has brought both zealots and their camp followers to the public stage trying to foist off the argument that their particular position is the unique and correct depiction of the role of Science in Education. As the public schools go, so -- they seem to think -- will go the culture.
b. Prohibition, 14 years;
c. exclusive heterosexual marriage rights are dissolving; and
d. removing tax exemptions from churches can now be discussed without camp followers threatening violence.
For references and to examine these issues further, see Religion, Intelligent Design and the Public Schools: serving God to Mammon?