What Evangelicals Can Contribute to the Public Square

There have been many surprises in the wake of my Dec. 19 Christianity Today editorial, in which I questioned President Trump’s moral fitness for office as well as his unabashed support among most conservative evangelicals. But no surprise has been greater than the cheering of atheists, agnostics, Jews and former evangelicals. They responded with grateful emails, subscriptions and donations to the magazine.

The episode has opened my eyes to one crucial role that evangelical religion, and religion in general, must play in the nation’s life….

This is the beginning of an Op-Ed just published in the Los Angeles Times today. Read the rest here; I welcome comments below.

12 thoughts on “What Evangelicals Can Contribute to the Public Square

  1. Thank you so very much for letting me know that I am not alone with my thinking about this! My friends and family are all faithful Christians but I can’t engage them in any kind of discussion about the president and politics without it turning into a heated debate. Where is the love and desire to bring others to God by reflecting the love of God out to everyone, not just those that share our views? This truly hurts my heart.

  2. Thank you Mark Galli!
    I am praying for Christians with moral and spiritual courage like you to allow their voices to be heard. I commend you for your thoughtful articles and contributions.

  3. Hello, Mark –

    I admire you very much for your principled stand regarding the behavior of the current occupant of the White House, especially in view of the widespread and vicious backlash against you. I am happy to count myself among your supporters.

    As for me, I am not a Christian; nor am I an atheist. I’m a secular-humanist deist who believes in something – I’m just not sure what. Alcoholics Anonymous, of which I am a member, frequently refers to “the God of your understanding”. I refer to mine as “the God of my trying to understand”.

    That said, I try to live a good and productive life and to be kind to all people. I also try to use my ability to think, and try not to be a hypocrite. I see and admire those same characteristics in you, but not, I am afraid, in the evangelicals who support Trump. Some of his evangelical spokesmen strike me as anything but Christian.

    We all not only have a place in the Public Square, our presence there is required now more than ever. Lies are now the norm in our politics, and the truth can defeat them, but only if spoken calmly, clearly, and bravely. I appreciate that you are doing that, and I thank you.

  4. Just read your editorial on Donald Trump in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. It is refreshing to know there is theologian that understands the “true Trump”. I struggle to understand how religious people can put a blind eye to his behavior inside and outside the political spectrum. My interpretation is they are impressed by his money, ridiculous, bold comments (he gets lots of laughs from the crowd), and his ability to blur the truth. They are following someone who, theoretically, does not hold their beliefs. Thanks for your comments. Please do not publish my personal information.

  5. You know, Mr. Galli, no one is calling President Trump faultless. He has failed in many things but he trudges on trying to do what he was elected to do. It finally dawned on me that you “religious zealots” are bullies toward a man elected to clean up a mess from previous presidents. He trudges on in spite of the nastiness spewed by those who do nothing much to better the lives of others. It appears to me that it is not your job to gossip nastily about anyone…much less a President of the United States. You hunker down in your arrogance when you get applied with compliments by those who need the Lord themselves. Think deeply as to why you have a need to throw stones at anyone that is immoral in your eyes. They, too, need the Lord! Do you job in praying and sharing the Lord with the unsaved or maybe the unsavory in your eyes. The Lord will judge you someday. Be a kind shepherd to everyone and remove vicious gossip from your vocabulary. Be the man of God that the Lord asks you to be. I continue to pray for you…Blessings.

  6. Totally agree with article.many people have forgotten God. I think God has hardened the hearts of many evangelical Christians that is going to lead to our being punished for our abandoning of God.

  7. Excellent! But how do you effectively get the message to those evangelicals and their pastors and leaders who consider Trump a deity?

  8. It is certainly true that mainline Christians jumped on the 60’s bandwagon and mirrored the Democratic party. As my favorite teacher at Harvard Divinity School confessed “We replaced the supernatural Gospel with the Social Gospel and it has inspired our members to leave the church…We are looking for something better.” In spite of the fact that Progressive Evangelicals seem to be aware that it caused the demise of those churches, they are doing the exact same thing. Other than abortion, they are in absolute lockstep with the Left. Same idolatry…different deity. Justice Gospel or Righteousness Gospel…they both distort the Message. It should be no surprise to find that atheists, agnostics, Jews and former evangelicals are delighted to have their views publicly affirmed by influential Christians. I’m not so sure that it should be a point of pride. “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” I think the greater concern is that the majority of American Christians are so blatantly, harshly and publicly judged simply because they refuse to join the 1960’s bandwagon. That is, if you acknowledge that Evangelical Trump supporters are in fact your brothers and sisters. “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls… Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who eats everything must not belittle the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted him.”

  9. I agree to the extent that we should hold our leaders accountable for non-godly behavior, and that many evangelicals seem to blindly adulate Trump’s every move or statement. We can (and perhaps must) vote for him given his policy leadership and the alternative, but we should not, as you say, “idolize” him.

  10. You have nailed it sir. I applaud your courage in speaking truth in a place where it’s very unpopular to hear it.

  11. Right on the money – or should I say – right on theology. Unfortunately, too many in the Evangelical world have already sold their birthright for a bowl of stew and are too full of the closeness to political power to realize it.

  12. I was delighted to see that CT had printed the only letter I’ve ever written, but was disappointed to see they omitted my main point for writing, which was to affirm some important editorials.

    I began by describing my experience which was related to what you had written about pastoral leadership: “Pastor, you are a good shepherd, but what we need is a C.E.O.” This was the counsel from one of the church leaders prior to a vote of no confidence regarding my pastoral leadership. I resigned, wondered about my future and that of the thousands of others pastors I learned were leaving ministry for reasons other than moral failure. Thankfully, I went on to have 15 more years of productive and enjoyable ministry. Recently, I happily retired after a total of 45 years in ministry.”

    I then went on to comment on the editorials: ” I am grateful for the editorial by Mark Galli regarding important issues of leadership (November, p. 28. “Something doesn’t smell right in Lynchburg …”) I was similarily pleased with the piece by Andy Crouch prior to the election of 2016 (October 10, 2016. “Speak Truth to Trump.”). As a life-long evangelical who has become less than comfortable with the term in recent years, I appreciate the thoughtful and courageous expressions in the editorials I mentioned. I’ve never written in before and I simply want to say thank you.” This was the portion that was omitted, and so I’ll take this opportunity to once again say thank you to you.

    Of course, since my writing that note, your piece calling for the president’s removal from office came out and also the followup by Dalrymple. So, once again I am wanting to say thank you and that I am pleased to be able to read what you are now writing on these crucial matters. I look forward to your book.

    Rev. Dr. Bruce R Nelson

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