Press "Enter" to skip to content

CT Editor Cites Ethical Failure of Trumpist Defenders

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.


  1. o 2020-01-03

    I came across this piece that helps to explain why evangelicals so easily and deeply accept Trump:

    The acceptance of dogma and the lack of critical questioning seems to be a theme in most of my frustrations with the President and his supporters. It more seemed to crystalize when I had the opportunity to hear Megan Phelps Roper speak about her story of leaving one of the most radicalized dogmatic environments. Two things allowed that to happen: 1) being engaged with critical (but respectful) questions, and 2) her internal processing to seek answers to those questions.

    I have seen so many on this blog become incensed when others seem to hold on to ideas/beliefs/dogma in the face of facts/science/evidence . . . truth. We live in a time where not only what is true is up for discussion, but also – and more importantly – what constitutes truth is up for discussion. For so many we place in the Trump/evangelical camp, dogma is truth.

    Unfortunately, the President seems to not only be a leader of dogma, but a follower. Looking at the foreign polity of the US now in North Korea and Iran, it is guided by dogma – personal belief in what leaders of those nations will do, belief that flies in the face of the facts and actual repercussions.

    Finally, I believe it is both the strength AND the weakness of so many liberals that there is always the nagging “you might be wrong: in the back of our minds that makes us question our leaders, our positions, and is so often perceived as “weakness” to our political opponents.

    Galli questioned the dogma. He did not compromise his core beliefs (in fact those are what pushed him to question the dogma of the Trump support). Looking at Gallelio, Socrates, or even Jesus, questioning dogma never works out well for the questioner in the short term.

  2. David Newquist 2020-01-03

    An old college classmate who is the pastor emeritus of a large suburban church wrote earlier this fall about Trump’s effect on his former congregation. The congregation had experienced a rather abrupt decline in attendance and in congregants fulfilling their pledges of financial support. A number of members took issue with Trump supporters in the congregation saying that endorsing Trump was a denouncement of the Christian principles that the church was supposed to foster. They said one could not support Trump and claim to be a Christian at the same time. Those members resigned their memberships to form a new congregation. I wonder how many churches are having this experience.

  3. kj trailer trash 2020-01-03

    Strong truth, here, from you, Cory, as well as from Mr. Galli.

  4. Porter Lansing 2020-01-03

    That impeached President seems a bit spooked, today. His tweets show a lack of bluster and bravado since he assassinated the second most powerful man in Iran. Some get that way, after their first murder.

  5. Debbo 2020-01-03

    Mike, the biggest split in the Methodist Church will be between the USA and the African Methodists. In Africa they are very conservative/traditional. In the USA it will remain the United Methodist Church, while others will join together in other forms of Methodism. There be some off shoots in the USA, but the UMC will remain the largest by far and the most open and welcoming of all. Like Jesus.

  6. Debbo 2020-01-03

    My working premise regarding faith systems is if it’s a church, denomination or religion best known for who or what they’re against, I want no part of them.

    White Evangelicalism in the USA has become one of those.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-01-03

    Thinking about what O said, we liberals, with our persistent questioning of authority and of ourselves, would provide the best government, if we just keep getting interrupted by all those overconfident absolutists.

Comments are closed.