Nearly 200 Faith Leaders Sign Open Letter Rebuking Controversial <em>Christianity Today</em> Op-Ed

Source: Lori Arnold | Contributor

Nearly 200 faith leaders are pushing back against a recent Christianity Today editorial calling for President Trump’s removal from office, saying the piece “offensively questioned the spiritual integrity and Christian witness of tens-of-millions of believers who take seriously their civic and moral obligations.

“It not only targeted our President; it also targeted those of us who support him, and have supported you.”

The comments were made in a Dec. 22 open letter to CT President Timothy Dalrymple and published by the Christian Post. The letter also takes umbrage at comments Mark Galli, the editorial’s author, subsequently made during a cable news interview about the fallout.

“It was astonishing to us that your editor-in-chief, Mark Galli, further offensively dismissed our point of view on CNN by saying, “Christianity Today is not read by the people—Christians on the far right, by evangelicals on the far right—so they’re going to be as dismissive of the magazine as President Trump has shown to be.”

The letter went on to talk about the need for Christian involvement in public service.

“We are proud to be numbered among those in history who, like Jesus, have been pretentiously accused of having too much grace for tax collectors and sinners, and we take deeply our personal responsibility to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s—our public service,” it reads.

As Christian Headlines previously reportedChristianity Today surprised readers—and many Evangelical believers—with a Dec. 19 editorial calling for Trump’s removal from office, either through impeachment or by the ballot box. CT posted its editorial the day after Trump was formally impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. Interest in the editorial momentarily caused the magazine’s website to crash.

Fallout was immediate.

The President lashed out on Twitter numerous times, dismissing CT as “far-left” and “progressive.” Franklin Graham, whose father Billy Graham founded the magazine, also came to Trump’s defense saying the publication “has been used by the left for their political agenda.”

In the days since the editorial broke, others have come to Galli’s defense, including Dalrymple who, in a follow-up editorial, said the publication had received countless letters of support, some from readers who said “they no longer feel alone. They have hope again.”

He went on to add that Trump had done tremendous damage to the Christian witness.

“The problem is that we as evangelicals are also associated with President Trump’s rampant immorality, greed, and corruption; his divisiveness and race-baiting; his cruelty and hostility to immigrants and refugees; and more,” Dalrymple wrote.

In a Christmas Eve message posted on Religion News Service, 15 Evangelicals, many of them authors and academics, affirmed Galli’s editorial. They included Richard Foster, founder of Renovaré; Sam Logan, president emeritus of Westminster Theological Seminary; George Marsden, professor of history emeritus, University of Notre Dame; Rich Mouw, president emeritus, Fuller Theological Seminary; Ron Sider, distinguished professor emeritus at Palmer Seminary at Eastern University and Nikki Toyama-Szeto, executive director, Evangelicals for Social Action.

“The United States evangelical and Christian community is at a moral crossroads,” the statement of support reads. “Our country has never been more politically divided with white evangelical Christians at the heart of much of the political discord. Regardless of whether or not one agrees with Galli’s conclusion or his argument, we write to affirm his courage and the bold decision to have Christianity Today officially take a stand regarding the Trump presidency.

“As leaders who love Jesus and are committed to the Bible, obedience to the Holy Spirit, spiritual transformation, and Christian witness, we affirm the questions posed by Galli’s editorial and his encouragement for Christians to engage in the public square with their political convictions in ways that are constructive and respectful to others with whom they disagree.”

But signers of the Dec. 22 letter believe the CT editorial was anything but constructive.

“We are, in fact, not “far-right” evangelicals as characterized by the author,” the letter said.

“Rather, we are Bible-believing Christians and patriotic Americans who are simply grateful that our President has sought our advice as his administration has advanced policies that protect the unborn, promote religious freedom, reform our criminal justice system, contribute to strong working families through paid family leave, protect the freedom of conscience, prioritize parental rights, and ensure that our foreign policy aligns with our values while making our world safer, including through our support of the State of Israel. We are not theocrats, and we recognize that our imperfect political system is a reflection of the fallen world within which we live, reliant upon the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is freely given to sinner and saint, alike.”

Among the signers were Michele Bachmann, former U.S Rep from Minnesota; Tommy Barnett, Dream City Church; Gary Bauer, American Values; Paula White Cain, Paula White Ministries; Dr. Tim Clinton, American Association of Christian Counselors; Dr. James Dobson, James Dobson Family Institute; Jerry Falwell, Jr., Liberty University President; Dr. Day Gardner, National Black Pro-Life Union; Jim Garlow, Well Versed; Jack Graham; Prestonwood Baptist Church; Walter and Lori Hoye II, Issues4Life Foundation; Mike Huckabee; My Faith Votes; Bishop Harry Jackson; Hope Christian Church; Robert Jeffress; First Baptist Dallas; Brian & Jenn Johnson, Bethel Music; Alveda King, Civil Rights for the Unborn; Greg Laurie, Harvest Christian Fellowship; Eric Metaxas, Eric Metaxas Radio Show; Penny Nance, Concerned Women for America; Tony Perkins, Family Research Council; Chonda Pierce, Comedian; Ralph Reed, Faith and Freedom Coalition; Juan Rivera, Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition; Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel; Rev. Tony Suarez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Michael Tait, Christian Music Artist.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Win McNamee/Staff

Lori Arnold is a national award-winning journalist whose experience includes 16 years at a daily community newspaper in San Diego and 16 years as writer-editor for the Christian Examiner. She owns StoryLori Media and is a member of the Evangelical Press Association.