Friday, May 18, 2007

Give us this day our proper label

It's always fun to pour my Mystery-Flavor Super-Strength tea-of-the-day (brewed for me each morning by my DH), prop my feet up on the wall, check email and find a Zogby survey waiting. How I got on their list I dunno, but being a Zogby Survey-ee makes me feel terribly important.

But when I finish the fun part and get to the standard questions designed to box me into my Proper Demographic, one question bugs me. Having checked off that I am a Protestant of non-denominational or "other" persuasion, I get asked this:

"Do you consider yourself a born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christian?
- Yes
- No
- Not sure
- Refused"

So. What if I'm one out of three?

On one occasion I got irritated and marked "Refused." For awhile I ticked "Not sure." I did this in spite of the word "or." The Zogbyists might want me to check "yes" even if I fit only one of the three terms, but in results I will still get lumped in with fundamentalists. But OK, I'll check "yes." Let me skew the official position of the fundamentalist demographic. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Months ago I decided to annoy them with some "Questions and comments on this survey" wherein I explained that the three terms - fundamentalist, evangelical, born again -- are not a package deal. While they tend to occur together, not one of them is dependent on another, either as cause or as effect.

I am born again. It's an experience. I had it.

I am not a fundamentalist. I am not an evangelist. I am also not, technically, a "liberal Christian" since my theology is not anti-supernatural, not anti-miracle. The Nicene Creed is pretty much okay by me.

If I fit into a box --and that's a big If -- it's the Christian Left. You know, those radical pinko preverts who believe Christ was a fan of peace, caring for the needy, everybody being entitled his own spiritual path. Stuff like that. Subscribers to liberal theology can be Christian Leftists too, but if we want to believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, nobody is kicking us out of The Left over how backward we are.

Zogby ignored me. The question remains worded as it always was.

My guess would be that for a Born Again to be a political liberal is so statistically uncommon -- or they think it is -- that they have no motivation to break the "non-denominational Protestant" category down any further than their question allows. It still bugs me. There are, I think, a lot more of us than the popular image of the "Christian" would indicate. Whatever our percentage, we're not marginal. If surveys glom the three categories together under one fundamentalist umbrella, it's hard to sort us out and I think we need to be identified.

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