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Christianity Today says it saw a spike in subscriptions after it called for Trump's removal

Posted at 3:12 PM, Dec 23, 2019

After it published an op-ed calling for President Donald Trump's removal for office, Christianity Today says it's seen a boost in readership.

Mark Galli, the editor-in-chief of the leading evangelical publication, made the remarks during an interview with the Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC on Sunday.

The editorial, he said, divided readers -- but support outweighed criticism.

"Although we've lost hundreds of subscribers, we've gained three times as many subscribers," he told Sharpton.

Galli penned the condemnatory editorial for the magazine last week. In it, he criticized what he called Trump's "grossly immoral character" and urged evangelicals to stop supporting him.

"We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath," he wrote in the op-ed. "The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president's moral deficiencies for all to see."

The publication, influential among evangelicals, has criticized Trump's policies in the past but never called for his removal.

"Something flipped" during the impeachment hearings, Galli said during his MSNBC interview.

'Legacy' of magazine to criticize presidents

The editorial drew criticism from readers, who argued Galli was "questioning their spiritual integrity," he told Sharpton.

But other readers thanked him for the piece, and he noted there was anxiety among some evangelical Christians over whether a publication would address the impeachment hearings.

"We rarely comment on politics unless the situation is grave and serious and might affect the welfare of the American people in some way, whom we're called as Christians to love as ourselves," Galli said.

He noted the publication, founded by the late Billy Graham, an influential evangelical leader, previously called for the impeachment of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton during their hearings.

"This is part of our legacy -- to speak out on national issues of moral import when the time calls for it," he said.

Galli told CNN last week he was leaving the publication.

Praise and criticism from Graham's family, Trump

Even within its ranks, the editorial was polarizing.

Jerushah Duford, Graham's granddaughter, told CNN the editorial was "courageous."

Her uncle Franklin Graham, a vocal presidential supporter, said it was "unfathomable" that the publication would release a "totally partisan attack" on Trump.

Trump dismissed the criticism follow its publication, calling Christianity Today a "far left magazine" and drawing a contrast between himself and the Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination.

"No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it's not even close," he said. "You'll not get anything from those Dems on stage."

In an editorial published Sunday, Christianity Today president Timothy Dalrymple said the magazine is "theologically conservative," but still felt compelled to say "the alliance of American evangelism with this presidency has wrought enormous damage to Christian witness."

"While the Trump administration may be well regarded in some countries, in many more the perception of wholesale evangelical support for the administration has made toxic the reputation of the Bride of Christ," he wrote.