I was always taught not to discuss religion or politics in polite company. It seems these Augusta pastors are not following this sage advice!
3 area pastors signed pro-Trump letter
By Susan McCord, The Augusta Chronicle, December 27, 2019
Three area ministers joined religious officials nationwide in signing a letter opposing the recent Christianity Today editorial calling for the removal of President Donald Trump.
The pastors lead three large area congregations — David McKinley, of Warren Baptist Church; Marty Baker, of Stevens Creek Church; and C.T. Townsend, of Victory Baptist Church in North Augusta.
In the Dec. 19 editorial
, editor-in-chief Mark Galli said even if Democrats have “had it out” for the Republican president since his election, evangelicals must look at the facts surrounding Trump’s effort to withhold foreign aid to Ukraine for his own benefit.
“The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents,” Galli wrote. “That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.”
to the editorial, the three Augusta pastors along with dozens of other religious officials — “Focus on the Family” founder James Dobson, former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed, Church of God General Overseer Tim Hill, Jerry Falwell Jr. — called Galli an “elite evangelical” whose views attack not only Trump but the magazine’s readership.
The editorial “not only targeted our President; it also targeted those of us who support him, and have supported you,” the letter said.
“We are Bible-believing Christians and patriotic Americans who are simply grateful that our President has sought our advice” on issues such as abortion, religious freedom and support for Israel.
Founded by the evangelical leader Billy Graham in 1956, Christianity Today reports a circulation of 130,000.
Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, said his late father supported Trump and would be “disappointed” with the magazine’s views.
No officials with any of the three Augusta churches or other local evangelical leaders responded to messages seeking comment about the letter..
A pastor ordained in the Church of God, Aaron Snow, said he reacted with shock to seeing Hill, Baker and other Church of God leaders sign the letter.
“I don’t feel it is an accurate or proper representation of what I believe as a Christian and what I hope to believe as a minister,” Snow said. “You have to realize you represent more than yourself.”
Snow, who agrees with Galli’s position, said the response letter seemed an emotional, “knee-jerk” reaction consisting of the officials’ personal values and beliefs.
Dave Barbee, a longtime GOP official and political observer, said the evangelical community has been “infiltrated” by left-leaning or moderate Christians, but the editorial does not indicate support among Trump’s evangelical base is waning.
“They’re acting like they’re speaking for all evangelical people and that’s not true,” he said.
As with Moses, King David and Noah in the Old Testament, “God uses sinners,” Barbee said. “They came around and they did God’s work.”
Dante Stewart, an Augusta pastor who has written for Christianity Today and been involved with the white evangelical community, said he was surprised Galli came out so strongly against Trump, but added that it’s a discussion long overdue.
“White evangelicalism needs to deal with this,” said Stewart, a black Protestant who attends Tabernacle Baptist Church. “As black writers for Christianity Today or other evangelical spaces, we thought, ‘what took y’all so long?’”
The white pastors tend to appear neutral toward Trump, but condone the “bartering” that gets, for instance, candidates such as pro-life judges, he said.
Upsetting the congregation means losing the power and money the community has long held, while the divide over Trump may further polarize its fringes, he said.
“The reality is when someone comes out against that strongly the defensiveness usually lodges itself deeper,” he said.
Galli’s editorial continues that Trump has “dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration,” by hiring and firing people who are now convicted criminals, remaining proud of his immoral actions, both in business and his personal life.
His Twitter feed, a “habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies and slanders,” shows he is morally lost, Galli said.
“Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?” he asked.
However, the response to the editorial added that Galli was pretentious to judge with whom the church associates.
“We are proud to be numbered among those in history who, like Jesus, have been pretentiously accused of having too much grace for tax collectors and sinners,” it said.