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What’s the Meaning of Evangelical?

Steven Waldman is president and editor-in-chief of, and author of Founding Faith. Previously the national editor of U.S. News & World Report, he is a recognized expert on religion, social issues and politics.

I’ve given talks and interviews on “the politics of evangelical voters” numerous times over the past seven years, so I was surprised after a TV appearance last week when my wife turned to me and asked, “Um, Hun, what do you mean when you say ‘evangelical?’”

For a few seconds I was angry, then disappointed. Like any spouse, I wondered if she truly listened to me. But she was right. Evangelical is a word I regularly use without defining. So, I’d like to try. …

Political Perceptions : What’s the Meaning of Evangelical?