Earlier in this campaign season, before Donald Trump advised his Twitter followers to “check out sex tape,” before The Washington Post published a video with Trump talking crudely about sex and sexual assault, as many as 78 percent of white, evangelical Christians said they planned to vote for him.
Now, two major magazines of evangelical Christianity are blasting the Republican presidential nominee — and criticizing the Christians who vote for him.
“Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord,” Christianity Today editorial director Andy Crouch wrote in an editorial published Monday. “They see that some of us are so self-interested, and so self-protective, that we will ally ourselves with someone who violates all that is sacred to us.”
Christianity Today was founded by evangelist Billy Graham in 1956 and today serves as a major voice of evangelicals, who make up more than a quarter of the U.S. population.
The publication does not endorse candidates because it is a nonprofit organization, Crouch wrote in the editorial. But Monday’s editorial, which devoted a paragraph to criticizing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (mostly for her use of a private email server), hammered Trump for about 1,000 words.
World, a more conservative Christian magazine, declared in an editorial on Tuesday evening that Trump should drop out of the race for the moral good of the nation. “We know our suggestion that Trump step aside will dismay many of his evangelical supporters, for whom we have high regard,” the editorial said.
That wasn’t the magazine’s position before the video came to light. “We’ve been reluctant to applaud those who call for a definitive no on Trump because, as our republic has turned imperial, it needs the vigorous shaking that Trump supporters would provide,” World wrote.
Evangelical leaders have been some of the most prominent national figures to have stuck by Trump over the past several days, while dozens of Republican members of Congress have withdrawn their support. Theologian Wayne Grudem decided after seeing the video released Friday that he could not support Trump, but such major evangelical figures as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell Jr. have reaffirmed their endorsements of the real estate mogul.
Christianity Today said that any evangelical leaders changing their mind about Trump are “heartening, but it comes awfully late. What Trump is, everyone has known and has been able to see for decades, let alone the last few months. The revelations of the past week of his vile and crude boasting about sexual conquest — indeed, sexual assault — might have been shocking, but they should have surprised no one.”
The editorial criticized the Republican nominee in biblical terms. Quoting a list of sins that St. Paul condemns — “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry” — Crouch wrote, “this is an incredibly apt summary of Trump’s life to date.”
This post has been updated.