Christianity Today’s editorial on Thursday calling for President Trump’s impeachment and removal has triggered an intense backlash from the conservative evangelical community.
The magazine’s evangelical critics say it has a long history of opposing Trump, and no longer reflects a conservative worldview.
Johnnie Moore, the spokesman for Trump evangelical advisory council, told Newsmax in a statement: "This editorial will have less than zero effect on the evangelical support of the president. In fact, it will motivate the community to do more.
"It is a never-Trumper, never-Trumping," he added. "Evangelicals support the president because of his policies and they see this impeachment as insincere, exclusively partisan, without legal merit and politically motivated."
The column by Galli, who has announced he will step down next month after 30 years at the Chicago-based publication whose circulation is about 80,000, urged evangelicals to reconsider their stalwart support for the president.
"To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record," Galli wrote, "we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior."
Galli’s column triggered an immediate backlash from Christian conservatives, who suggested the publication has been drifting left for some time and speaks only to a subset of the evangelical community. Other critics charge the publication no longer reflects the values of its founder, the late venerated Rev. Billy Graham.
Liberals active on social media have been playing up the publication’s significance, suggesting the editorial could signal the beginning of an evangelical backlash against Trump, or trigger a major divide within the evangelical community.
A survey of the magazine’s Twitter posts suggest its opposition to Trump is hardly new:
- On Dec. 7 the publication posted a link headlined: "What you need to know about how the Trump administration is making refugee resettlement harder — and how Christian ministries are pushing back."
- On Oct. 27 it posted a link headlined, "Thought Donald Trump has divided the country in innumerable ways, he has managed to bring together many white evangelicals from seemingly disparate theological worlds in a common cause as his allies"
- On Oct. 14 a post bore the headline, "From three years ago this month: 'Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord.'"
- A July 20 post declared: "In the wake of Trump’s latest in a long line of comments demeaning immigrants and minorities, Christians should consider the actions of the prophets John the Baptist and Nathan."
- A June 9 post stated: "Why this pastor rebuked President Trump’s disparaging remarks about other countries when the vice president attended his church."
The magazine’s editors did not immediately respond Friday to a Newsmax request for comment.
The New York Times on Friday described CT as "a prominent evangelical magazine," while acknowledging it "has long represented more centrist thought." The Times reported
: "The move was the most notable example of dissent among the religious conservative base that has supported Mr. Trump through controversy after controversy, and came at one of the most vulnerable moments of his presidency."
Responses from the Christian right are unwavering in their criticism of CT and their support for Trump:|
Rev. Franklin Graham, the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, posted on Facebook that his father would have been "very disappointed" with the editorial, adding CT "has been used by the left for their political agenda."
Wrote Graham, "It's obvious that CT has moved to the left and is representing the elitist liberal wing of evangelicalism," adding: "My father knew Donald Trump, he believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump. He believed that Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation." The younger Graham's statement marked the first time he had revealed that his father voted for Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The elder Graham passed away in February 2018.
Dr. James Dobson wrote an open letter addressed to "the conservative Christian community" noting that CT had not specified who they would prefer to occupy the Oval Office after 2020. Dobson stated, "Maybe CT would prefer a president who is passionately pro-abortion, anti-family, hostile to the military, dispassionate toward Israel, supports a socialist form of government, promotes confiscatory taxation, opposes school choice, favors men in women's sports and boys in girl's lockers rooms, promotes the entire LGBTQ agenda, opposes parental rights, and distrusts evangelicals and anyone who is not politically correct." Dobson’s parting remark: "While CT is making its case for impeachment, I hope the editors will now tell us who they support for president among the Democrat field. That should tell us the rest of the story."
The Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, founder and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who also serves on Christianity Today's board of directors, told the Times the editorial caught him completely by surprise. "Christianity Today is very apolitical," he said. "We don't do politics, we don't even bring up politics in a board meeting." After the House voted in favor of two articles of impeachment on Wednesday, Rodriguez released a statement announcing he opposes impeaching the president and removing him from office.
Rev. Dr. Robert Jeffress
, the senior pastor of the First Baptist Dallas megachurch, tweeted Friday
that CT "is a dying magazine that has been 'Never Trump' from the beginning. They are going against 99 percent of evangelical Republicans who oppose impeachment. President @RealDonaldTrump is the most pro-life, pro-religious liberty, pro-Israel president in history!"
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