Penny Nance / January 2, 2020

Christianity Today Has Damaged the Christian Witness in America

The recent Christianity Today editorial calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment was beneath the institution founded by Billy Graham.

The recent Christianity Today editorial calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment was beneath the institution founded by Billy Graham

The magazine, frequently accused of a leftward drift, proved every critic correct with its misleading attack on fellow believers. It was sad to read. 

In order to make the case for impeachment — a constitutional and legal matter that is being contested at every turn — Mark Galli, the author, concludes that it “is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.” Unfortunately, Galli chose to do something that evangelicals involved in public policy are accused of doing all the time. 

The organization I lead, Concerned Women for America (CWA), the largest public-policy organization for women in the nation, is opposed to this impeachment. We believe it is a sham because the facts presented do not meet the high bar set by the Constitution. But you have not and will not hear us say that if you do not believe as we do on impeachment, then you are opposing “the Creator of the Ten Commandments.” How silly would that be? How pompous, arrogant, prideful, pharisaical, and un-Christian would that be?

No one is arguing that Trump or his administration or his policies are perfect. I have been blessed to meet and even dine with Trump. Like most of us, he is on a complicated spiritual journey that he began with little understanding of the Gospel. Only God knows what’s in his heart. And in order to share God’s word, wise counsel, and encouragement of his “better Angels,” I have made a conscious choice to praise his administration publicly and correct it privately. Christianity Today prefers to stand on the outside and cast aspersions, while even condemning those who fail to take the same approach.

Galli decided his assertion that one cannot be both Christian and a Trump supporter needed to be in the pages of Christianity Today. Yet his silence about all other politicians has been deafening. I suspect that his “Remember who you are and whom you serve” has brought embarrassment enough to the publication already.

In fact, its president and CEO, Timothy Dalrymple, has already felt the need to come out with an explanation of the disastrous editorial. Regrettably, it was just as dubious as the original piece. Dalrymple would have us ignore the way Galli wrote as speaking for the institution. “CT does not have an editorial board,” he wrote. “Editors publish under their own names.”

But at least he admits the obvious. Their hatred of President Trump is not about the “unambiguous” facts for impeachment, as Galli slyly claimed. “Galli’s editorial focused on the impeachment, but it was clear the issues are deeper and broader. Reasonable people can differ when it comes to the flagrantly partisan impeachment process. But this is not merely about impeachment, or even merely about President Trump,” he wrote. 

So I guess it is not about loyalty to the Creator, after all. Reasonable people can differ — imagine that. 

Still, CT’s president is as clueless as Galli about Christian involvement in public policy. He also commands us to “consider whether they have given to Caesar what belongs only to God: their unconditional loyalty.” That evangelical straw man is easier to tumble, but it is not a real argument either. Christian conservatives most certainly do give not unconditional loyalty to Trump, nor to any man. But, of course, Galli and Dalrymple know that already. 

Dalrymple describes the choice that Christians faced in 2016 as follows: “Vote for a pro-choice candidate whose policies would advance so much of what we oppose, or vote for an extravagantly immoral candidate who could well damage the standing of the republic and the witness of the church." 

This ludicrous formulation is so inane as to take one’s breath away. Even graciously giving him his unfounded, amorphous point about "damage to our witness,” Dalrymple is misrepresenting the actual choice in the last presidential election. At most, it was a choice between two different candidates who were both “extravagantly immoral” and “could well damage the standing of the republic and the witness of the church.” It’s just that one of them supported abortion, placed gay and transgender rights above religious liberty, and promised to appoint radical judicial activists to the courts. 

In that context, it is not hard to understand why evangelicals gravitated toward and tend to support Trump. But Christianity Today disapproves of and in fact now condemns them for violating God’s law. 

It is one thing to show off their poor grasp of public policy, but couldn’t Galli and Dalrymple at least make their case in an honest, respectful way?

Dalrymple is an astute businessman. He knows the damage that he and Galli have caused. Now he has come up with a clever marketing plan to “invite authors who represent a variety of viewpoints” to publish a series in January. That would have been wiser before this fiasco. A straightforward apology right after the editorial would have been second-best. 

Having botched that too, here’s hoping that Christianity Today does nothing to further damage our witness.

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