Backstory of “Christianity Today”‘s Demonization of Trump

Backstory of “Christianity Today”‘s Demonization of Trump December 30, 2019

+ Brief Analysis of Former Editor Mark Galli & Discussion of Whether the Title “Never Trumper” is Justified

See my previous related article: Christianity Today Treats Trump & Evangelicals Disgracefully (Christianity Today Represents Pure, True-Blue Evangelicalism More So Than Billy and Franklin Graham and Dr. James Dobson?).

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No wonder Mark Galli wrote his editorial in Christianity Today, condemning President Trump and calling for his removal. He had already announced two months earlier that he was departing his position as editor.

We know that he grew up in Santa Cruz, California, and was a Presbyterian pastor for ten years, in the PCUSA denomination: which is theologically liberal and pro-abortion. This doesn’t necessarily prove he was of like mind. But he could possibly have been.

Now he has become an Anglican (the relatively conservative and traditional breakaway denomination, Anglican Church in North America).

He classifies himself as politically  “center-right”. Here’s an example of (perhaps) his “center” [???] inclinations:

Jesus told his disciples—to put it into today’s terms—that when asked to bake a cake for a gay wedding, we might offer to bake two (Matt. 5:41). (editorial, Christianity Today: 5-20-16)

Typically of Never Trumpers, he is a third-party guy, which — I always contend — is being a “useful idiot” for the Democrats and playing into their hand: at least in states where the vote is close:

He added that he doesn’t belong to either major political party, and voted third party in the last election. “People are going to think of it as if it’s partisan,” he said. “I’m not joining the Democratic Party to take Trump down.”

My primary point is that this bone-level inveterate opposition (very similar to opposition to Pope Francis) does not come from nowhere. There is always some sort of background that would indicate this sort of behavior and mindset. We already see important clues of where it comes from: such as being “center-right” and third party. The guy is simply not a mainstream conservative Republican (90% of the entire party — including RINO’s — supports President Trump).

Keith Pavlischek wrote an excellent and insightful article: “Mark Galli and Christianity Today’s New Impeachment Orthodoxy” (Juicy Ecumenism, 12-20-19). He nails it with regard to the hypocritical self-righteous, holier-than-thou mentality of so many Never Rational Never Trumpers:

We now have it on the authority of the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine founded by Billy Graham and Carl Henry that, if you are a Christian believer, you are disloyal to God, have betrayed the Holy Trinity, and are unfaithful to the Lord Jesus if you (1) oppose the impeachment and removal of President Donald Trump or, if he is not removed by impeachment, you (2) support Trump over whichever Democratic candidate opposes him in the 2020 election.

And they said that Pastor Jerry Falwell and the old Christian Right stepped over the line with voter guides and insistence that Christians must vote for Candidate (fill in the blank)!

Let’s see what this implies, taking the views of a not-so-hypothetical Christian whom Galli tells us is a bad, disloyal, disobedient believer (an anti-Christ, if you will).

Suppose that a Christian believer finds persuasive the anti-impeachment arguments of Constitutional scholars such as Jonathan Turley (a liberal Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton), Alan Dershowitz (a liberal Democrat who voted for Clinton) and Ken Starr (an Evangelical who knows a little bit about constitutional law and impeachment). But, then, out of the blue, comes an obscure editor of a Christian magazine who – as far as readers can tell – has no equivalent expertise, and he tells him that he has a high moral obligation as a Christian believer to support not just impeachment, but removal of Trump from office. This is not a matter of prudence, but moral duty, Galli insists. . . .

This editorial should disabuse those who are inclined to think that ignorant political fundamentalism and self-righteous moralism is the exclusive province of Trump court theologians.

Another excellent, spot-on article is “Christianity Today and the evangelical left’s feigned Trump outrage” (Ryan Bomberger, The Christian Post, 12-26-19):

Christianity Today didn’t call for the removal of a Presidential Predator—Bill Clinton. In their 1998 article entitled “The Prodigal Who Didn’t Come Home”, they lamented his inadequate “apology.” According to CT, Clinton merely “missed a truly historic moment” with what could’ve been a “straightforward admission.” But the conclusion of the article really showed the “progressive” magazine’s hopes for the impeached President: “At this writing, we expect Clinton to hang tough, to remain the comeback kid he is known to be.”

That was gracious.

Then there was the 1974 CT editorial that asked the question “Should Nixon Resign?” In it, there is never a call for removal. “The transcripts show him to be a person who has failed gravely to live up to the moral demands of our Judeo-Christian heritage. We do not expect perfection, but we rightly expect our leaders, and especially our President, to practice a higher level of morality than the tapes reveal,” writes CT.

[Even Billy Graham eventually turned against Nixon]

So if we were expecting at least ostensible or prima facie moral and philosophical consistency (e.g., “we called for the removal of Nixon and Clinton, too!”) we didn’t get it. According to Galli and his (heaven knows how many) like-minded colleagues over at Christianity Today, Trump is in a class of “presidential wickedness” all by himself: even surpassing the relentless playboy JFK.

As I noted in my previous blog post on the topic, the entire House was almost united against Nixon, and there were 30 or so Democrat votes to impeach Clinton, whereas there were zero Republican votes to impeach Trump, and two Democrats voted not to. Impeachment by its very nature was always intended to be a bipartisan exercise, and even Nancy Pelosi used to (publicly) agree with that notion.

Another excerpt:

Christianity Today, and many other liberal evangelical outlets, rightfully point out the moral failings in (select) elected leaders. Yet they often fail to apply the same standards to those on the Left, especially when those politicians are advocating issues that CT champions. But where was the call for removal of President Barack Obama? For the first time in history, an American President keynoted a fundraising gala for the leading killer of those made in God’s image—Planned Parenthood. Though Obama campaigned on “middle ground” rhetoric regarding abortion, he never sought it as President. In fact, he was the most radically pro-abortion President in history.

And another:

CT does the same thing as mainstream media. They promote a simplistic narrative in order to demonize an entire demographic. In this instance, they claim that evangelicals who support Trump “brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behaviors in the cause of political expediency.” I never have. I find his past and even some current behavior reprehensible—whether it’s marital infidelity, unpresidential rally remarks or demeaning tweets. I find the Left’s obsession with demonizing and distorting his every action and word equally as immoral. Slander is a sin, too, people. I’ll never be invited, like many of my colleagues, to the Trump White House. I’ve never been a Trump apologist, but I will defend the rule of law. I know the alternative to a Trump presidency would’ve been a Hillary Clinton presidency. I didn’t choose the lesser of two evils. I chose to vote my conscience with a Party platform that aligns with my faith and common sense.

Bravo!!!! My thoughts exactly, and I can’t add anything to these two great articles, so I won’t try. But I had a little discussion with Facebook commenter Andrew Smith, whose words will be in blue:

I hate the phrase “Never Trumper”. It is possible to have reservations about the character of the man in office and his inclinations and still be a faithful Catholic and conservative.

Right (of course). But it describes the prevailing group that thinks in certain rigid, dogmatic (and I think, highly prejudiced and cynical) terms. Generalities (like proverbs) are understood to have exceptions. “Never Trumper” was, by the way, what people called themselves. Trump supporters didn’t start that.

Regardless, it has become a term to beat people into corners to shut them up. Much like the term “homophobe.” I have very strong reservations about Donald Trump and his character yet I approve of some of the things he has done and I refuse to be labelled with the intent of demeaning my witness. I would hope that principled people could understand this and not resort to useless name-calling.

Many times, folks seem unable (or unwilling) to understand how generalities work. We use them all the time. This one is a valid generalization. If you don’t fit into it, you don’t. But you are already exhibiting the traits, in your condescension in the service of condemning same.

It’s not “useless name-calling.” It is a sensible usage based on the fact that a large (and very influential) proportion of those who opposed Trump adopted the name for themselves. Logically, you should be going over to their sites and bitching to them and asking why they chose such a name (and mentality) for themselves. That would actually make sense. Instead, you think it is worthwhile and helpful to imply that I am trying to shut people up and have attitudes such as those who hate homosexuals (the people, not just the sin).

You’ll have to do much better than that on my page.

A generalization is different from a false characterization or a caricature, which is what anti-Catholics and pope-bashers habitually engage in. A generalization (I majored in sociology) is simply talking broadly or generally about a group of people of a particular belief-system.

There is a prominent phenomenon called Never Trump[ers] who named themselves and who continue to have a huge influence on the incessant, relentless polemics against the man. And so I am talking about them.

If you are not in that camp and use much more nuance and subtlety in your political reasoning, that’s fine. Then you’re not a Never Trumper if so. I never claimed that all those who have disagreements with Trump are Never Trumpers. But it doesn’t follow from the fact that not all who oppose Trump are Never Trumpers, that there:

1) is no such group,
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or that

2) it is unreasonable and unfair to label them as “Never Trumpers” and use the label in a broad sense (allowing exceptions) which ought to be understood as such.

There are obviously exceptions: folks who generally disagree with and/or dislike Trump but who do not fall into this extreme category. But isn’t it interesting that we never heard of such a thing as Anti-Busher or Anti-Reaganer, did we?
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This thread is primarily about Mark Galli, who exhibits all the classic traits of the Never Trumper:

1) he uncritically and pathetically swallowed Democrat / liberal talking-points about Trump in his editorial.

2) He is a third-party guy.

3) He calls himself “center-right” (Romney et al).

It’s reasonable to argue, I think, that the Never Trumper mentality came out of a portion of the third-party / libertarian / moderates / independents large and increasingly influential social group. These people starting saying “Never Republican” as well as “Never Democrat” and so they carried that over to Trump in particular.

It’s simply a position of RINO (if still in the party) or a rejection of the party and (in my opinion) pragmatic political sense in our current situation. Third party is irrelevant in national elections, because none has ever won. Even the very popular Teddy Roosevelt couldn’t do it in 1912. And no one will anytime soon. Perot got 18% in 1992, which is quite a feat, but all that did was swing the election to Clinton. He brought about that result, due to a personal grudge against old man Bush (thanks for nothing!). And he was a pro-abort as well.

This is what conservatives going 3rd party always does: enables a Democrat / radical secularist victory.

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Photo credit: Mark Galli [Breitbart.com]
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