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Daniel Silliman tackles a problem familiar to this editor: Is it “Evangelical” or “evangelical,” majuscule or miniscule, capitalized or not? The problem encompasses other terms like “deist,” “atheist,” and “charismatic.”

In the chart above, Silliman shows how preferences have swung dramatically through the sixteen- and seventeen-hundreds. Nor, as he points out, do things get any clearer in the twentieth century.


Silliman concludes, “I don’t know how much can really be drawn from these graphs. Maybe there are some social facts to be cited as explaining one style or the other at one time or another. The bigger picture, I suspect, is that we just fuddle along. Which I take some peace in.”

That sounds right. We here at First Things capitalize “Evangelical,” not least because it so often appears alongside Catholic and we want a kind of visual parity, and also because they should not have the word to themselves. Catholics and Orthodox also can be evangelical, as we have long insisted.

Anyway, do read all of Silliman’s post (and browse the rest of his blog)  here .

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