USA Today put the following headline on Associated Press religion reporter Eric Gorski’s story about James Dobson stepping down from Focus on the Family’s main radio broadcast:
Evangelist Dobson parts ways with radio show, Focus on the Family
I know that the words sound similar, but the word USA Today is looking for is “evangelical.” Let’s all watch to see how long it takes to correct this one.
Evangelical is hard enough to define as it is, but it’s different than “evangelist,” which Random House defines as:
Show Spelled Pronunciation [i-van-juh-list]
1. a Protestant minister or layperson who serves as an itinerant or special preacher, esp. a revivalist.
2. a preacher of the gospel.
3. (initial capital letter) any of the writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) of the four Gospels.
4. (in the primitive church) a person who first brought the gospel to a city or region.
5. (initial capital letter) Mormon Church. a patriarch.
6. a person marked by evangelical enthusiasm for or support of any cause.
This is also an excellent reminder that headlines are typically not written by the reporter of the story and sometimes they’re not even in a position to correct the headline if necessary. Gorski is very precise with his word choice and would not make a mistake like this.
Anyway, since the media tend to mess this one up with alarming frequency, Dobson is still, at press time, a psychologist and not an ordained minister or itinerant preacher. GetReligion has been calling attention to this error for a long, long time. We are not alone, either.
Come on, people. Get with the program.