According to an overreaching board of trustees, evangelical students at Princeton University should hide their religious affiliation because it stereotypes them as Republicans. The board recently announced their decision that the students must scrap the word “Evangelical” in their student club’s title. Therefore, what has been known for eight decades, since its founding in 1937, as the “Princeton Evangelical Fellowship” must now be called the “Princeton Christian Fellowship.”
According to William Boyce, a class of ‘79 alumnus who now serves as secretary on the board that voted to change the group’s name, the term “evangelical” is an “unnecessary hindrance” to the group’s work because it involves “too much cultural baggage”:
I’m old enough to think [evangelical] is a good word, but it’s reached a point where there’s so much baggage attached around it so that it’s no longer a helpful word to identify ourselves.
Boyce continued by explaining that by the term “cultural baggage” he means the assumption of Republican political alignment:
There might be certain assumptions that all evangelicals are Republicans, for example… In the press, evangelicals are a named group that unilaterally is in support of President Trump.
An article in Princeton’s online student newspaper “The Daily Princetonian” announcing the name change called the Republican connotation “deeply uncomfortable”:
A quick Google search reveals, fairly or unfairly, how strongly the word evangelical has become associated with Trump supporters. The term has taken on a deeply uncomfortable and misleading connotation for the University’s own evangelical Christians.
According to Jay Sourbeer, the current president of the group, “Students are totally on board. Aside from the nostalgia, there’s no good reason to keep it around.” In fact, the only regret students had about losing their freedom to identify as evangelical is that the acronym for the new title is harder to pronounce:
“I do miss the old name (“PEF” can be pronounced as one syllable, but the same can’t be said for PCF) but I think it’s worth the name change to be consistent with the meanings of words as understood by contemporary English speakers,” wrote Karen Zhang ’19, a member of PCF, in an email. “All in all, it’s been a lot easier to switch from PEF to PCF in conversation than I thought it would be, and it’s still the same group of people, so I end up not really noticing that the change has happened at all.”
Of particular concern is the fact that the students impacted by the change do not seem to realize they are being shamed into hiding their religion under the more politically correct umbrella term “Christian.” Rather, they are submissively yielding to the demands of a board of trustees who have fallen for the Left’s rhetoric that being evangelical equates to being Republican and is something to be embarrassed of.
The irony is that there are scores of other student-run organizations at Princeton with titles containing words for demographics which tend to vote for a particular party, but no one is arguing they should change their names. For example, using the same religious-political profiling, the “National Society of Black Engineers,” “Women Promoting Literacy,” and “Pride Alliance” could all be assumed to be made up of Democrats since blacks, women, and LGBT people lean liberal. But they aren’t.
Nevertheless, for years the Leftist media has been accusing the Republican Party of being composed of primarily “old, white, men.” In fact, just recently, Michelle Obama reemerged into the national news spotlight after she told attendees at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women that Republicans are all “grey and white.” And since the last presidential election, the Left has apparently added the term “evangelical” to the stereotype after exit polls showed that the majority of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump — a fact which has now evidently earned all evangelicals the brand of ignorant, racist, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-immigrant bigots.
This ludicrous, and sometimes even violent, rhetoric aimed at attacking and intimidating Republicans has gone too far. When extreme religious-political stereotyping shames students into hiding their faith, the Left has won. Conservatives should not, and cannot, allow such tactics to succeed.