Rebuttal of Christianity Today's Trump editorial leads to a resignation

Karen Zraick, The New York Times

Posted at Dec 25 2019 09:25 AM

A scathing anti-Trump editorial published by the prominent evangelical magazine Christianity Today continues to provoke fierce debate. A response in The Christian Post on Monday denounced the editorial, prompting an editor there to resign in protest.

Christianity Today, a leading publication founded by the Rev. Billy Graham, published the anti-Trump editorial on Thursday, following the House vote to impeach President Donald Trump on charges that he had abused his power and obstructed Congress.

The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Mark Galli, argued that it was “profoundly immoral” that Trump had attempted to persuade his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate a political rival, and called for the president’s removal from office.

The Christian Post rebuttal, published Monday, noted the “firestorm of criticism and dissent” the editorial had provoked, noting that white evangelicals have strongly supported Trump despite repeated controversies.

The authors, John Grano and Richard Land, wrote that Christianity Today’s “disdainful, dismissive, elitist posture toward their fellow Christians may well do far more long-term damage to American Christianity and its witness than any current prudential support for President Trump will ever cause.”

This apparently proved too much for an editor at The Christian Post, Napp Nazworth, who wrote on Twitter on Monday that he was “forced to make the difficult choice” to leave the site, which lists him as a politics and opinion editor. He did not immediately respond to a message Tuesday.

“They decided to publish an editorial that positions them on Team Trump. I can’t be an editor for a publication with that editorial voice,” he wrote. He had worked there since 2011.

In a statement, The Christian Post said that it was “so very grateful for Napp’s contribution over these many years.”

“We wish him the best,” the statement added. “We will remain a publication rooted in our Christian faith & committed to objectivity in our reporting & diversity in our opinions.”

The original editorial has stirred controversy for days — starting, not surprisingly, with Trump himself. “I guess the magazine, ‘Christianity Today,’ is looking for Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or those of the socialist/communist bent, to guard their religion,” he said on Twitter the day after it was published. “How about Sleepy Joe? The fact is, no President has ever done what I have done for Evangelicals, or religion itself!”

Trump’s reelection campaign announced that he would go to Miami on Jan. 3 to start an “Evangelicals for Trump” coalition.

The Christian Post response noted that nearly 200 evangelical leaders had signed a letter condemning the Christianity Today editorial, which was also the subject of a news story on its home page. The letter said that the editorial “offensively questioned the spiritual integrity and Christian witness of tens-of-millions of believers who take seriously their civic and moral obligations.”

The Post also noted that Franklin Graham, whose father was Billy Graham, continued to support the president. In a response to the editorial, Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook that his late father had voted for Trump in 2016, a revelation he had never before made publicly.

The Christian Post was launched in 2004 to provide news and commentary of interest to Christian readers, and is not linked to any particular sect or congregation, according to the site.

A recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that 77% of white evangelical Protestants approve of the job Trump is doing in office, including half who strongly approve. Nazworth had taken issue with those figures in a recent article, arguing that evangelical support for Trump had been greatly overstated.