Last week, the magazine Christianity Today — founded by the legendary evangelist Billy Graham — published an editorial by retiring editor-in-chief Mark Galli calling for the removal of President Trump, whom Galli described as “immoral.” The piece went viral and drew fire from the president, who called the publication a “far left magazine.” According to The Washington Post, the editorial led to a flood of 2,000 cancelled subscriptions and more than 5,000 new ones for the center-right magazine. It caused many commentators to wonder if it heralded a growing crack in Trump’s evangelical support.
“The facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents,” wrote Galli.
“The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration … His Twitter feed alone — with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders — is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”
The editorial has continued to make waves across Christian media this week. On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that Napp Nazworth, a journalist who ran the editorial board for the website the Christian Post, has quit his job in response to an editorial that the website ran today attacking Christianity Today. Titled “Christianity Today and the problem with 'Christian Elitism',” the piece called Galli out of touch with modern Christians. “One might well ask Mr. Galli how his obvious elitist disdain and corrosive condescension for fellow Christians with whom he disagrees, as ignorant, uneducated, ‘aliens in our midst’ might well damage evangelical witness to an unbelieving world,” wrote the piece’s authors, John Grano and Richard Land.
Nazworth has worked at the Christian Post since 2011. In an interview with the The Washington Post, he described the battle lines that have been drawn in evangelical media following the controversial editorial.
“I never got the gist they were gung-ho Trumpian types,” he said, referring to his colleagues at the Christian Post. “Everything has escalated with the Christianity Today editorial.”
Nazworth said that the magazine’s leaders who previously supported his anti-Trump stances have “traded their moral authority.” He said that he was “shocked that they would go this path,” explaining that they decided to make their political allegiances crystal clear. “I said, if you post this, you’re saying, you’re now on team Trump,” he said. He was informed that that was exactly the messages his bosses wanted to send.
“Clearly, there was a profound yearning for some evangelical institution or leader to stand up and say these things,” Christianity Today’s president Timothy Dalrymple told The Washington Post. “One of the most consistent phrases was ‘stay strong.’ People had rallied to the flag, and they were afraid we would abandon them, afraid we’d buckle under the pressure and bend the knee, and then their disillusionment would be even worse than before.”
While there are clearly divisions among evangelical media leaders regarding the president’s conduct, only the 2020 election will reveal whether they extend to the millions of Christians who have so far supported him.