Mark Galli retires today from his position as editor in chief of Christianity Today. Galli put his name to the famous and powerful December 19, 2019, editorial calling for removing Donald Trump from office and pointing out the long-term damage the evangelical embrace of Trump is doing to their religion and their social agenda.
In an exit interview with the New York Times, Galli notes that support for Trump seems to depend on (I would say willful) naïveté and ignorance:
I’ve been surprised by the ethical naïveté of the response I’m receiving to the editorial. There does seem to be widespread ignorance — that is the best word I can come up with — of the gravity of Trump’s moral failings. Some evangelicals will acknowledge he had a problem with adultery, but now they consider that a thing of the past. They bring up King David, but the difference is King David repented! Donald Trump has not done that.
Some evangelicals say he is prideful, abrasive and arrogant — which are all the qualities that Christians decry — but they don’t seem to grasp how serious it is for a head of state to talk like that and it does make me wonder what’s going on there [Mark Galli, interviewed by Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, “Christianity Today Editor Laments ‘Ethical Naïveté’ of Trump Backer,” New York Times, 2020.01.02].
Galli also notices that Trump’s disciples’ reaction to the CT editorial shows Trump has also done damage to civil debating skills:
…I will say that some of his closest followers are, in a sense, being discipled by him. Mr. Trump’s typical response to a critic is to frame the entire conversation as a competition between success and failure. When the editorial published, the first response coming out of the mouth of some leading evangelicals was “That’s Christianity Yesterday” or “You’re a dying magazine.” They’re taking their cues on how to react in the public square from Donald Trump, whose basic response is to denigrate people [Galli, 2020.01.02].
Trumpism depends on cloaking inadequacy and corruption with bullying and insults. Trump depends on stroking a certain identifiable base and then threatening and marginalizing any critics. Trumpists inflate and insulate their minority beliefs (and Trumpists have never been a majority, thank goodness) by convincing themselves they can ignore facts and honest criticism by dismissing the factfinders and critics as idiots, sissies, and enemies of the state.
Christians are supposed to represent the marginalized, not shove them further to the margins. Donald Trump and his disciples are not Christians.