After Trump and Moore, some evangelicals are finding their own label too toxic to use

They all decided they wanted to become preachers and enrolled in seminary to learn how to spread the Gospel. They chose one of the most prominent evangelical seminaries in the country.

Yet here they were, these four young preachers-in-training from the Midwest, the South and the Northwest, hanging around after listening to sermons in class. They were debating whether they wanted to be the one thing Fuller Theological Seminary is known for: evangelicals.

“It’s still a painful identity for me, coming from this election,” said Paul Johnson, one of the students at Fuller.

Discomfort with the term “evangelical” began in some quarters with the Moral Majority in the Reagan years, which helped make “evangelical” synonymous with the Republican Party. Ever since, evangelicals have disagreed with each other about mixing faith and politics.

Such debates intensified last year when President Trump was elected with the overwhelming support of white evangelical voters after a vitriolic campaign that alienated many Americans. Most recently, after Senate candidate Roy Moore drew strong majorities of white evangelicals in Alabama despite reports of his pursuit of teenage girls when he was in his 30s, some Christians across the country said they weren’t sure they wanted to be associated with the word anymore.

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