Skeptics that I meet do not respect evangelical Protestants, and I think I know why. In my discussions in-person or online, the non-Christian questions both the intelligence and the cultural sophistication of Evangelicals, and they will frequently point to a scandal-ridden TV evangelist to support their stereotype. Non-Christians, in my experience, will not abandon this stereotype when one quotes Scripture regarding false prophets or lists Christian intellectuals that the unbeliever has never heard of. I believe that we should concede that there are problems with prominent ministries and the Christian community needs to do more to protect its public reputation.
However, whenever I share my concerns about our public reputation with fellow Christians, they seem disinterested. They either dismiss our having any actual reputation problems, or they will point out that Jesus was unpopular. Yes, Jesus was unpopular, but for the right reasons. Meanwhile, a health-and-wealth evangelist who had been bankrupted by previous scandals, is back on television selling tiny vials of spring water and promising all sorts of miracles for his patrons.
Am I missing something here, or should we do more to distinguish ourselves from the bad actors within the Christian community?