Trump didn't cause the generational split among evangelicals. But Christianity Today exposed its depth.

Peter Weber

It may look like a pair of recent editorials in Christianity Today, a prominent evangelical Christian magazine, criticizing President Trump and the evangelicals who stalwartly support him caused a fracture in the white evangelical community. A group of nearly 200 prominent evangelical conservatives quickly attacked the first CT editorial, in which outgoing editor-in-chief Mark Galli argued that Trump should be removed from office, and a large group of religious scholars and speakers pushed back.

But the fight over evangelical fealty to Trump is only "exacerbating a long-term crisis facing white evangelicalism, some Christians say — it is being abandoned by younger generations," Reuters notes. And "Trump's presidency may make the age gap worse." White evangelicals made up 15 percent of the U.S. population in 2018, versus 23 percent in 2006, and the average age of white evangelicals is 55, compared with 44 for the overall white population, according to Public Religion Research Institute data.

Napp Nazworth, the politics editor at the more conservative Christian Post, resigned last week over his publication's plans to criticize Christianity Today's anti-Trump editorial. "Having to go out and defend this guy day after day, as many of these Trump evangelicals are doing, they're just destroying their credibility," Nazworth tells Reuters, and they "will have no moral authority to speak to moral issues of the day after defending him."

There has been a big drop-off in white evangelical church participation among adults under 40, and "one of the major factors is that the church is too tied up in right-wing politics," Greg Carey, a professor at Pennsylvania's Lancaster Theological Seminary, tells Reuters. He specifically mentioning evangelical activism against gay rights. The evangelical church's "singular focus" on gay marriage and abortion just makes the younger generation "shrug," agreed Dartmouth religion professor Randall Balmer.

That doesn't mean young white evangelicals are embracing Democrats. "No political party embodies Jesus' teaching closely," says Christian writer Marlena Graves. Listen to how the last Rachel Held Evans threaded that needle at The New York Times' "The Daily" podcast.

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