Wineke: More evidence political battle is now theological dispute

I’ve been standing on a soap box for a while proclaiming that the real political battle in this country is actually a theological battle about the divinity of President Trump.

We saw further evidence of that last week when “Christianity Today,” the flagship magazine of mainstream evangelical Christianity, called for the removal of Trump from office.

The magazine’s editor, Mark Galli, asserted Trump does not have the moral standing to remain as president.

The editorial probably received more press attention than it deserved. Christianity Today is an influential, but small, magazine with a circulation of about 130,000 and an estimated readership of a quarter-million people. Like its liberal counterpart, The Christian Century, it is pretty much aimed at the ecclesiastical elite who are interested in religious thought.

So Galli’s editorial might have been a one-time shot heard not too many places had not Trump – who I can guarantee has never read an issue of Christianity Today in his life – responded, calling the magazine a far-left stooge for Democrats.

Christianity Today “knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call and would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President,” Trump tweeted. “No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close. You’ll not get anything from those Dems on stage.”

And many of the nation’s white evangelical leaders (the evangelical community is very large and includes probably a majority of African American Christians who do not share the veneration of Trump) including Franklin Graham, whose father, Billy, was one of the magazine’s founders, jumped on the issue, assuring the president they were in his corner.

Some 100 of them sent a letter to Galli insisting that, because he called for Trump’s removal from office, he was questioning the faith and integrity of those who voted for the president and threatened financial consequences to the magazine.

They noted that Trump appoints conservative judges who, they assume, will one day outlaw abortion and that Trump has also moved the nation’s embassy to Israel to Jerusalem.

The Israel bit can be a bit confusing. Some evangelicals believe that moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a sign that the Second Coming of Christ is near.
Or, to repeat the president, “No president has done more for the Evangelical community and it’s not even close.”

You can put that another way, too: What the president is telling his evangelical supporters is once you’re bought, you stay bought. The president bought the movement by giving them judges and now he expects them to bend the knee and discipline those in the movement who falter. After all, to criticize Trump is to criticize true believers.

On Jan. 3, the religious leaders and the president are planning an “Evangelicals for Trump” celebration in Miami. I am sure it will be very spiritual in nature. My guess is no one will quote Jesus warning that you can’t serve both God and mammon.

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