'Evangelical' Label is Here to Stay, Says Prominent Christian Leader

The term "evangelical" is increasingly taking on a negative connotation amid sex scandals and other controversies from the pulpit. But one conservative evangelical reminded Americans of what the term defines.

It means the "good news" in Greek, Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family told Neil Cavuto on FOX News on Friday.

Despite media coverage defining what evangelicals are against, Daly does not believe the "e-word," as Cavuto and Christianity Today magazine called it, is "dirty."

"I think they (the media) like to try to drive a wedge between us (evangelicals)," said Daly. "I don't think they'll succeed because again there's nothing wrong in the description of an evangelical."

"Christians are about love and truth," he said.

Daly went on to say that it is reasonable for media to be interested in the recent scandals in the evangelical circle just as it would be with teacher scandals in schools.

"These are people in positions of trust, yet they break that trust," Daly explained.

One of the biggest evangelical scandals broke out this past November when Ted Haggard's drug and sex scandal was exposed. A former male prostitute alleged that Haggard, who resigned as head of the National Association of Evangelicals, paid him over a three-year period for sex and sometimes for methamphetamines. Haggard said the accusations were not all true but only stated to being guilty of "sexual immorality."

Haggard and his wife, Gayle, recently completed a counseling program in Arizona, the Associated Press reported.

A Barna Research poll conducted before the scandal found that 38 percent of Americans label themselves as "evangelical." However, only 19 percent of the self-proclaimed evangelicals actually meet the evangelical criteria, defined by Barna.

"Only half of them understand what the [evangelical] creed is," noted Daly, explaining why evangelicals do not agree on everything.

Still, the e-word is here to stay, Daly reassured.

Ron Sider, founder of Evangelicals for Social Action, said he plans to stick with the word evangelical despite the broad spectrum of people (from Jerry Falwell to Rick Warren) who identify with the term.

"It tells you something about the attractiveness and good character of the term," said Sider, according to USA Today.

And Daly has hope for the faith of the nation.

"I think where sin abounds," he said, "grace abounds even more."