“It’s no surprise to you that evangelicals are not monolithic in their political viewpoints,” Short said of the scathing article by Christianity Today’s retiring editor, Mark Galli.
Galli wrote that Trump’s removal from office “is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.” And, he added, to the “many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve.”
Christianity Today, founded by the late reverend Billy Graham, published the editorial on Thursday. It sparked immediate outrage from Trump and his allies, with the president tweeting that the publication is a “far left magazine . . . which has been doing poorly.”
Trump added that “no President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close.”
Short, who for decades has worked with Pence and alongside evangelical leaders, echoed the president on Sunday. He cast Galli’s comments as unrepresentative of evangelicals’ appreciation for Trump and his policies, from antiabortion efforts to overhauling the judiciary.
“A lot of us who will celebrate our savior’s birth this week, we acknowledge that there is a president in this administration who is also protecting thousands of other unplanned pregnancies in defense of life,” Short said, noting his own faith.
Short then argued that Trump has “stood up for Israel” and for religious liberty — policies and positions that give “a lot of comfort to Christians across our country.”
When “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd asked Short whether evangelicals have concerns about Trump’s behavior, Short again said Christian voters are “not monolithic” and said many of them “take great gratitude that he’s our president.”
Elsewhere, on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, Short again defended Trump’s conduct, this time Trump’s suggestion during a campaign rally last week that John Dingell — the late longtime lawmaker and husband of Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) — might be “looking up” from hell.
Despite an uproar from Democrats and some Republicans, Trump has not apologized. Speaking to media Thursday afternoon, Trump appeared to ignore questions posed by several reporters, one of whom asked, “Mr. President, will you apologize to Congresswoman Dingell?”
“Chris, I’m sorry that she’s hurting and I’m sorry — and I certainly wish her the best as she deals with the circumstances,” Short said of the congresswoman. But, you know, in light of where we were on Wednesday night, I think the president’s saying John Dingell was not exactly a wallflower. John Dingell called the president ‘imbecile’ in his closing months.”
Trump also tweeted Friday that he assumes that Christianity Today supports a Democrat, and he noted the transactional relationship he has had with evangelicals.
Galli told The Washington Post on Friday morning that Trump had mischaracterized the magazine, which considers itself centrist or possibly center-right.
“Nobody considers us as far left,” Galli said. “We don’t comment on larger national issues except when they rise to a level of moral influence. . . . That’s not who we are.”
Galli said the magazine struggled financially during the recession, as did many media outlets, but is on strong footing with donations and subscriptions now.
He agreed that Trump has pleased the evangelical community when it comes to policy decisions on abortion and religious freedom. But Galli compared evangelicals to a wife in an abusive marriage where the husband is a reliable provider.
“When that husband starts to become violent and physically abusive, the scales don’t balance,” Galli said. “It’s time for him to get out of the house. That’s what I’m saying about the Trump presidency.”
Trump’s presidency has created divisions among evangelicals, especially across racial and generational lines. Many strongly support the president and have hailed his policy choices and appointments of Supreme Court justices they hope will make antiabortion rulings. But others have decried Trump’s behavior and comments.
Exit polls in 2016 suggested that 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump. A NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll from earlier this month found 75 percent of white evangelical Christians approved of Trump, compared with 42 percent of U.S. adults overall.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey contributed.