Here at GetReligion, the “F-word” always catches our attention.
I’m referring, of course, to fundamentalist.
It’s a loaded word that can carry a negative connotation when applied to religious groups or institutions.
The Associated Press Stylebook — “the journalist’s bible” — contains this entry:
fundamentalist: The word gained usage in an early 20th century fundamentalist-modernist controversy within Protestantism. In recent years, however, fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians.
In general, do not use fundamentalist unless a group applies the word to itself.
That brings us to a Washington Post story this week on former Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell taking a part-time teaching job at Liberty University.
From that story:
McDonnell began the job this semester by giving a few lectures at the fundamentalist Baptist college founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., who died in 2007. He will resume the lectures in the fall, making six to eight appearances per semester, said Johnnie Moore, a senior vice president at the school.
Here’s the question — actually, two questions: Is Liberty fundamentalist? And is Liberty officially Baptist?
In an email thread among your inquiring-mind GetReligionistas, editor tmatt noted: