Call it the Trump curse. Scandals seem to befall his most moralistic critics — from the activists at the Lincoln Project to journalists like Chris Cuomo to the imprisoned lawyer Michael Avenatti. A new addition to this roster of undone Trump critics is Mark Galli, the former editor of Christianity Today. The publication reported last week that according to its investigators he sexually harassed women for years.
“Eight women alleged that Galli touched them inappropriately, including one former employee who said Galli caressed her bare shoulder during an event in the early 2000s, while another said Galli’s hand got ‘stuck under her bra’ when he rubbed her back,” reports the Religion News Service about Christianity Today’s findings. “Galli was reprimanded in 2019 after three women in three days reported to human resources that he’d inappropriately touched them — allegedly hugging a woman from behind, grabbing another woman by the shoulders and shaking her and putting a hand on another woman’s butt.”
(Galli told Religion News Service that he may have “crossed lines” but didn’t have “any romantic or sexual interest in anyone at Christianity Today.”)
In 2019, Galli enjoyed a brief spurt of fame after he called for Trump’s removal from office. Galli said that Trump lacked the “morality” necessary to serve in the presidency and questioned Christian support for him: “But it strikes me as strange that for people that take the teachings of Jesus Christ seriously, teachings of the Ten Commandments seriously, that we can’t at least say publicly and out loud and in front of God and everybody that this man’s character is deeply, deeply concerning to us and in my judgement has crossed a line and no longer think he’s fit to lead the United States of America.”
In an editorial, Galli solemnly proclaimed, “That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.” The media loved the editorial and feted Galli for days. Journalists who normally decry faith in politics and call for Christians to dilute the Ten Commandments and compromise with the world were suddenly all ears. Nothing pleased the media more during Trump’s presidency than the opportunity to drive a wedge between him and Christians.
But few seemed to notice that this oh-so-righteous call was coming from a publication not particularly known in recent years for its staunch defense of traditional Christian morality and an editor who was apparently not practicing it. (His aforementioned harassing of three women over three days happened just months before he penned the editorial — a grim irony that could not have been lost on his colleagues.)
It turns out that the atmosphere in Galli’s office was far more unseemly than anything happening in the Oval Office. Christianity Today now acknowledges: “A number of women reported demeaning, inappropriate, and offensive behavior by former editor in chief Mark Galli and former advertising director Olatokunbo Olawoye. But their behavior was not checked and the men were not disciplined, according to an external assessment of the ministry’s culture released Tuesday.”
The publication reports that “Olawoye’s tenure at CT ended after he was arrested by federal agents in a sting operation in 2017. He was attempting to pay for sex with a teenage girl. He ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.” The publication then reports Galli’s odd response to the arrest of his colleague:
In CT’s editorial department, it was Mark Galli who shared the news of Olawoye’s arrest and delivered the message about suspending judgment. He told at least two women he supervised that he understood how a man could be tempted to pay for sex with a teenager. According to the women, Galli said that he also had unfulfilled sexual urges and that was a common male experience. The important thing was learning not to act on those urges.
Both would later question why he told them that. Both were later touched inappropriately by the then–editor in chief.
All of this makes Galli’s censoriousness about Trump’s vulgarities very puzzling. It is hard to believe that he was truly fretting over Trump’s “character flaws.” It is far more likely that he just didn’t like his personality and politics. Many of the ostensible moral critiques of the Never Trumpers were nothing more than disguised and opportunistic political attacks on Trump, often coming from “conservatives” who long ago abandoned any defense of Christian morality.
They wouldn’t even give Trump credit for improvements in his behavior, such as his defense of the unborn. He was the most pro-life president since Reagan. What bothered the Never Trumpers the most about Trump was not his decadent past but his break with it. They would have preferred if he had remained a Manhattanite libertine. Instead, he turned into a Rush Limbaugh-style conservative and defended the religious freedom of Christians.
The browbeating of Christians for siding with Trump over Hillary Clinton continues. But it makes no sense, especially in light of the persecution that they now face under Biden. “Be as gentle as doves and wise as serpents,” Jesus Christ told his disciples. Imprudence, even if it is dressed up as a higher form of morality, is a vice, not a virtue. Trump’s Christian voters understood that while remembering an adage to which Galli and other compromised Never Trumpers should have been sympathetic — that “every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.”
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