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Evangelicals close ranks around Trump after Christianity Today rebuke

Christianity Today editor: Trump "unfit for office"
Christianity Today editor says Trump's "public morality" makes him "unfit for office" 06:28

As the political clamor caused by a top Christian magazine's call to remove President Trump from office continues to reverberate, more than 100 conservative evangelicals further closed ranks around Mr. Trump on Sunday.

In a letter to the president of Christianity Today magazine, the group of evangelicals chided editor-in-chief Mark Galli for penning an anti-Trump editorial, published Thursday, that they portrayed as an affront to their character as well as the president's.

"Your editorial offensively questioned the spiritual integrity and Christian witness of tens-of-millions of believers who take seriously their civic and moral obligations," the evangelicals wrote to the magazine's president, Timothy Dalrymple. Michele Bachmann, Gary Bauer, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Mike Huckabee were among the evangelical leaders who signed the letter.

Besides calling for Mr. Trump's removal, Christianity Today also carried a warning for evangelical leaders who support Mr. Trump "in spite of his blackened moral record." 

"Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump's immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency," Galli wrote in the editorial. "If we don't reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come?"

The new offensive from the group of prominent evangelicals, including multiple members of Mr. Trump's evangelical advisory board, signals a lingering awareness by the president's backers that any meaningful crack in his longtime support from that segment of the Christian community could imperil his reelection hopes. Though no groundswell of new anti-Trump sentiment emerged among evangelicals in the wake of Christianity Today's editorial, the president fired off scathing tweets Friday accusing the establishment magazine – founded by the late Reverend Billy Graham in 1956 — of becoming a captive of the left.

Mark Galli, the editor-in-chief of the flagship Christian magazine that promotes taking the Bible literally and practicing conservative social values, told CBS News "Face the Nation" Sunday that it "strikes me as strange that a — for a people who take the word, the teachings of Jesus Christ seriously, the teachings of the Ten Commandments seriously — that we can't at least say publicly and out loud in front of God and everybody, that this man's character is deeply, deeply concerning to us."

The Christianity Today editorial has clearly captured the attention of Mr. Trump, whose scathing tweets lambasted the magazine, describing it as "progressive," despite its generally conservative tendencies. The president has long touted his support from evangelicals and insists his administration has done more for evangelical Christians than any other administration in history. 

"I guess the magazine, 'Christianity Today,' is looking for Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or those of the socialist/communist bent, to guard their religion. How about Sleepy Joe? The fact is, no President has ever done what I have done for Evangelicals, or religion itself!" the president tweeted Friday

A day after the editorial published, the Trump campaign announced the launch of an "Evangelicals for Trump" coalition. 

White evangelicals in particular have consistently offered strong backing for the president. A Pew Research Center poll found 69% of white evangelical protestants approved of Mr. Trump's job as president in January 2019, a higher approval rating than the president receives among other racial and religious demographics. Black protestants only gave the president a 12% approval rating in January, according to Pew, and white mainline protestants gave the president a 48% approval rating. Catholics across all demographics gave the president a 36% approval rating. 

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