'We couldn't find a compromise': Christian Post editor resigns over editorial defending Donald Trump

A scathing anti-Donald Trump editorial published by the prominent evangelical magazine Christianity Today continues to provoke fierce debate. A response in The Christian Post on Monday denounced the editorial, prompting an editor there to resign in protest.

Christianity Today, a leading publication founded by the Reverend Billy Graham, published the anti-Trump editorial on Thursday, following the House vote to impeach President Donald Trump on charges that he had abused his power and obstructed Congress.

The magazine's editor-in-chief, Mark Galli, argued that it was "profoundly immoral" that Trump had attempted to persuade his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate a political rival, and called for the president's removal from office.

The Christian Post rebuttal, published on Monday, noted the "firestorm of criticism and dissent" the editorial had provoked, noting that white evangelicals have strongly supported Trump despite repeated controversies.

 We couldnt find a compromise: Christian Post editor resigns over editorial defending Donald Trump

File image of Donald Trump. AP

The authors, John Grano and Richard Land, wrote that Christianity Today's "disdainful, dismissive, elitist posture toward their fellow Christians may well do far more long-term damage to American Christianity and its witness than any current prudential support for Trump will ever cause."

This apparently proved too much for an editor at The Christian Post, Napp Nazworth, who wrote on Twitter on Monday that he was "forced to make the difficult choice" to leave the site, where he had worked since 2011, most recently as politics editor.

In an interview on Tuesday evening, Nazworth said he wanted the publication’s politics section "to be an open space for both sides". He said the site had worked to include voices that praised and criticised the president, and he objected to labelling the column as an editorial representing the site's opinion.

"There was an impasse. We couldn't find a compromise," he said. "I said, 'If this is what you represent, you're announcing that The Christian Post is joining Team Trump'."

In a statement, The Christian Post said that it was "so very grateful for Napp's contribution over these many years."

"We wish him the best," the statement added. "We will remain a publication rooted in our Christian faith and committed to objectivity in our reporting and diversity in our opinions."

The original editorial has stirred controversy for days — starting, not surprisingly, with Trump himself. "I guess the magazine, Christianity Today, is looking for Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or those of the socialist/communist bent, to guard their religion," he said on Twitter the day after it was published. "How about Sleepy Joe? The fact is, no president has ever done what I have done for Evangelicals, or religion itself!"

Trump's reelection campaign announced that he would go to Miami on 3 January to start an "Evangelicals for Trump" coalition.

The Christian Post response noted that nearly 200 evangelical leaders had signed a letter condemning the Christianity Today editorial, which was also the subject of a news story on its home page. The letter said that the editorial "offensively questioned the spiritual integrity and Christian witness of tens-of-millions of believers who take seriously their civic and moral obligations."

The Post also noted that Franklin Graham, whose father was Billy Graham, continued to support the president. In a response to the editorial, Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook that his late father had voted for Trump in 2016, a revelation he had never before made publicly.

The Christian Post was launched in 2004 to provide news and commentary of interest to Christian readers, and is not linked to any particular sect or congregation, according to the site.

A recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that 77 percent of white evangelical Protestants approve of the job Trump is doing in office, including half who strongly approve. Nazworth had taken issue with those figures in a recent article, arguing that evangelical support for Trump had been greatly overstated.

Nazworth said that since his resignation, "a lot of people have been reaching out with words of encouragement and support." He said he had no idea what he would do next.

"I thought I would be working at The Christian Post until both of my kids graduated from school," he said.

Karen Zraick c.2019 The New York Times Company

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Updated Date: Dec 25, 2019 10:55:13 IST