Sarah Pulliam Bailey Reports That Journalist Napp Nazworth Quit His Job at Christian Post Because the Website Was Planning to Publish a Pro-Trump Editorial That Would Slam Christianity Today

President Trump speaks to Rev. Franklin Graham as they attend a ceremony to honor the late Rev. Billy Graham in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, on Feb. 28, 2018 in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)

The decision by Christianity Today to publish an editorial describing President Trump as “immoral” and calling for his removal drew immediate rebuke from the president himself, who called the outlet “a far left magazine.” The piece drew nearly 3 million unique visitors to the magazine’s website and became the talk of TV news shows over the weekend.

At the same time, the longtime centrist-right evangelical magazine saw a rush of canceled subscriptions — and an even greater wave of new subscribers, magazine President Timothy Dalrymple said. Both he and the author of the editorial, retiring editor in chief Mark Galli, could also face personal and professional consequences, according to interviews with several other conservative Christian leaders and writers who in the past have spoken out critically about Trump.

They described losing book sales, conference attendees, donors, church members and relationships.

Journalist Napp Nazworth, who has worked for the Christian Post website since 2011, said he quit his job Monday because the website was planning to publish a pro-Trump editorial that would slam Christianity Today. Nazworth, who sits on the editorial board as politics editor, said the website has sought to represent both sides and published both pro- and anti-Trump stories.

“I never got the gist they were gung-ho Trumpian types,” Nazworth said. “Everything has escalated with the Christianity Today editorial.”

Nazworth, who has been critical of Trump and suggested leaders who supported him have “traded their moral authority,” said he doesn’t know what he will do next.

“I said, if you post this, you’re saying, you’re now on team Trump,” he said. He said he was told that’s what the news outlet wanted to do.

“I’m just shocked that they would go this path,” he said, adding that even though he felt “forced” to make the decision to quit, the parting was a mutual agreement between him and the outlet.

Since the editorial, many Trump supporters have decried Christianity Today as irrelevant and even “elite.” On Sunday, 200 evangelical leaders and other Trump supporters issued a letter slamming the publication. It was signed by many on the president’s evangelical advisory committee, pastors of Pentecostal and Southern Baptist churches, and Christian musicians such as Brian and Jenn Johnson and Michael Tait. Other evangelical leaders were planning a letter in support of the magazine that will come out Tuesday.

Dalrymple said Monday that the magazine has lost 2,000 subscriptions but gained 5,000, with the latter coming from a younger, more diverse and more global audience.

“We don’t like to lose anyone,” he said. “We need to stay in conversation with one another even when we disagree.”

Dalrymple, who wrote a piece Sunday about the editorial, said editors have received an “enormous outpouring of notes and messages speaking in deeply emotional terms about their gratitude.”

“Clearly, there was a profound yearning for some evangelical institution or leader to stand up and say these things,” Dalrymple said. “One of the most consistent phrases was ‘stay strong.’ People had rallied to the flag, and they were afraid we would abandon them, afraid we’d buckle under the pressure and bend the knee, and then their disillusionment would be even worse than before.”

Bible teacher Beth Moore tweeted that what Christianity Today did was “costly” for both Galli and the magazine.

“The ramifications are legit,” she wrote. “It would be so much easier to keep your mouth shut. He could’ve just gone on down the road safe and sound. That’s why my hat’s off to him.”

Even the children and grandchildren of the late evangelist Billy Graham, who founded Christianity Today, appear divided over the editorial on social media.

Exit polls from the 2016 election showed that 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump. An NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll from this month found that 75 percent of white evangelicals approved of Trump, compared with 42 percent of Americans overall.

Among the small number of prominent evangelical leaders who have openly opposed Trump, many, like Galli, are retired or planning to retire soon. The group includes Minnesota pastor John Piper, who has called the president “unqualified,” and Texas pastor Max Lucado, who said in 2016 that Trump didn’t pass a “decency test.” Spokespeople for Piper and Lucado said they were not available Monday.

Doug Birdsall, an evangelical leader who gathered a group of influential institutional leaders at Wheaton College last year to discuss the Trump era’s impact on the evangelical movement, said his decision to hold the event has affected him personally. Birdsall, who is honorary chair of Lausanne, an international movement of evangelicals that was started by Billy Graham, raised $21 million for a gathering of evangelicals in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2010 for “a congress on reconciliation.” Now, he said, many of those donors are alienated from him. He said he has had to self-fund some ministry work he’s doing using $400,000 in savings and home equity.

“I think people have been waiting for someone of [Christianity Today’s] stature to say something,” Birdsall said. “I think Mark’s piece inspires others to be courageous.”

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Source: Washington Post