According to a report from Reuters, the editorial calling for Donald Trump's ouster published in Christianity Today -- which rocked the evangelical world and provoked a furious response from the president -- exposed a growing rift within the evangelical movement that is forcing many followers to question their faith.
The editorial, written by chief editor Mark Galli and published by the venerable magazine founded by Billy Graham, stated: “Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. 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. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come?"
Reuters reports those words, and the resulting furor, laid bare a movement at the crossroads.
"The Dec. 19 editorial sparked a Christmas holiday debate over religion in U.S. politics, and posed new questions about the close alignment between white evangelical voters and Trump, who has given their beliefs strong political support," the report states, adding, "There has been a big drop-off in white evangelical church participation among adults under 40, and publications such as Christianity Today and religious leaders are struggling to engage 'Gen Z,' or those born after 1996."
According to Greg Carey, a professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, "One of the major factors is that the church is too tied up in right-wing politics."
Napp Nazworth, who resigned as politics editor of the Christian Post, after agreeing with the op-ed, explained, "Having to go out and defend this guy day after day, as many of these Trump evangelicals are doing, they’re just destroying their credibility."
"Evangelicalism, like all forms of Christianity in the United States, is struggling to attract younger members, amid an unprecedented surge in recent years of the number of people identifying as religiously unaffiliated," the report states. "White evangelical protestants declined as a proportion of the U.S. population between 2006 and 2018, falling to 15% from 23%, according to analysis by the Public Religion Research Institute."
"Younger evangelicals are put off by church leaders’ seemingly unconditional support for Trump despite his 'cruel' treatment of migrants and deregulation that could damage the environment, said Marlena Graves, a Christian author on faith, culture and justice, who signed the petition," Reuters reports, with Graves explaining, "No political party embodies Jesus’s teaching closely. You can’t depend on government to do what Jesus says because, oftentimes, you have to go against the government."
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