It’s always tricky when a secular person, in a secular forum, writes about religion. More often than not, people who are strong advocates of that presumptive wall between church and state feel uncomfortable when faith is discussed in the same breath as politics, the law, societal customs and pretty much anything else that takes place outside a place of worship.
That came to a head recently when the editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, Mark Galli, published a scathing editorial stating that President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office. Many progressive cheered, happy that a Christian organization that describes itself as “pro-life and pro-family” was critical of a president who strives to please those types of voters.
However, many evangelical readers of the magazine were displeased and vocal about it, including an open letter signed by nearly 200 evangelical leaders published by The Christian Post that refuted the call for impeachment and removal from office by saying, “We are Bible-believing Christians and patriotic Americans who are simply grateful that our president has sought our advice.”
Christianity Today’s president responded swiftly and in the way that any person running a business and doing damage control would, with hopes that this moment of disagreement can be “the beginning of a dialogue.”
What struck me about this is not the outcry from Trump-loving evangelicals, though. Instead, I was surprised to see the cheers from progressives and liberals who lauded Christianity Today for criticizing the president.
I’ve written about my Catholic faith many times for newspaper and others, including recent columns about Joe Biden being denied Communion because of his pro-life stance (I agree with the priest) and Nancy Pelosi saying that her Catholicism means she doesn’t have hate in her heart (I rolled my eyes at that).
More often than not, the vast majority of progressives who reach out to me about those columns tell me to shut up about my faith and to keep my rosaries off their ovaries. (And much more colorful language that I can’t print here because this is a family newspaper.) Watching those same types of readers thrill with delight over Galli’s anti-Trump comments was frustrating. It’s hypocritical for liberals to think it’s OK to talk about religion and its relationship to politics when they agree, but to shout “separation of church and state” as soon as the opinion shifts to something more conservative.
The editorial in Christianity Today was beautifully written and expressed the very real struggles the magazine had faced in dealing with the president. As Galli noted, “We have done our best to give evangelical Trump supporters their due, to try to understand their point of view, to see the prudential nature of so many political decisions they have made regarding Mr. Trump.” He goes on to acknowledge why many evangelicals support the president, namely, his judicial appointments, his fidelity to the pro-life cause, his stewardship of the economy and his defense of religious liberty.
While Galli and the leadership at Christianity Today are within their rights to call for Trump’s removal, it is the height of hypocrisy for progressives who embraced that message to ever again criticize conservatives who speak out about faith in the public square.
The next time a Catholic priest refuses communion to a public official who supports abortion rights, the liberals who are infuriated need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.