Christianity Today doubles down

The flagship evangelical magazine won’t retract criticism of Trump

As everybody who pays attention to these things knows, Christianity Today has been the target of controversy and presidential vituperation ever since it published an editorial calling for the impeachment and removal from office of Donald Trump. It has been the usual and predictable cascade of slurs, from “far left” to personal attacks on the character and belief of the editors.

I’m not an expert but, judging from the nastiness directed at the magazine, and the generally stouthearted support of Donald Trump by evangelicals, I’ve come to believe that it takes a godawful amount of stored-up malice to be a good Christian.

Even so, the magazine isn’t backing down.

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 is not the sickness. He is a symptom of a sickness that began before him, which is the hyper-politicization of the American church. This is a danger for all of us, wherever we fall on the political spectrum. Jesus said we should give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. With profound love and respect, we ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to consider whether they have given to Caesar what belongs only to God: their unconditional loyalty.

[ … ]

We nevertheless believe the evangelical alliance with this presidency has done damage to our witness here and abroad. The cost has been too high. American evangelicalism is not a Republican PAC.

Well said — and good for them.

And where, by the way, have you read similar thoughts before?

Third, 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump, and that will eventually sink into public consciousness, as in, Wait a minute! What are you saying? The church people gave us that piece of sh*t p***y-grabber?! Yep, they did — and that will be the tale of how the Evangelical Right and ‘movement so-called conservatism’ committed political suicide. They might make some noise, occasionally score a small victory … but they are done. The Trump administration, with its inevitable serial indecencies and corruptions, is their achievement, and they will never live it down.

My satisfaction at having called it correctly is tempered by my awareness of the accompanying anguish caused people who are well-intended but just not very clear-headed.

Conservative evangelicals are going to be a destructive presence in our national life for a long time to come; after all, they are raising their children, who will then raise their own children, to be magical-thinking idiots. Figure 2-3 generations before their number has dwindled to a freakish sideshow. As H.L. Mencken — I think — once said, it takes 3-generations to make a genuine-article atheist.

Until their numbers decline to insignificance, they will simply have to be defeated and pushed to the side.

We should not be Pollyanna-ish about the danger they pose. After all, it doesn’t need a mind tuned for nuance to grasp that they are free to despise gays (for instance), but public policy may not. They ‘get’ that, but are determined to make public policy comport with their religious views nonetheless; in that sense they do, indeed, exhibit theocratic ambitions that are deeply un-American and dangerous. The Evangelical Right is a threat to American ideals and the country writ large.

I think the best antidote is to say so frankly and laugh at such as James Dobson, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Jr, at. al. Politely deferring to their nonsense only empowers them by granting them an unearned dignity.

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