In December 29, 2019 Napp Nazworth, the politics editor of The Christian Post, resigned after The Post denounced Mark Galli’s Christianity Today editorial calling for the removal of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
Now Napp Nazworth is telling his story in a long form piece at Arc Digital.
Nazworth shows how court evangelicals tried to use The Christian Post as a propaganda tool for Donald Trump. But it also reveals how these evangelical leaders crave public attention, promote themselves through public relations firms, and seek political power.
Here are some highlights:
On court evangelical Richard Land, the Executive Editor of The Christian Post:
Executive Editor Richard Land led the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission when CP first hired him, then later became president of Southern Evangelical Seminary. He was often relied upon for his theological insights and his deep knowledge of Washington politics and the SBC.
It was wise of CP to bring Grano and Land on board. All the upper management were young, in their 20s and 30s, which meant they needed people with experience they could turn to for advice.
Land is nothing like Trump on issues of race and immigration. He was one of the primary figures leading the SBC to grapple with its racist past. The ERLC also joined the pro-immigration Evangelical Immigration Table under his leadership.
Land is also nothing like his public image. He has a great sense of humor. Since his public interviews discuss serious topics, those who don’t know him don’t get to see this other side. If the multiverse is real, there’s another Richard Land somewhere doing stand-up right now. Sharp-witted, his humor often worked on many levels. One of my favorites was when he joked that Matt Drudge, founder of The Drudge Report, is what he would be like if he had never become a Christian.
On court evangelical Robert Jeffress:
Jeffress is a celebrity hound. It wasn’t uncommon for Jeffress to personally email me or our reporters to show us one of his many TV interviews in the hopes we would report on it. We often obliged. Land liked to tell a joke he heard in Southern Baptist circles that the most dangerous place in Texas to stand is between Jeffress and a television camera.
There is also a really interesting section on how court evangelicals Johnnie Moore and Paula White tried to manipulate The Christian Post to publish a White puff piece in the hopes that Donald Trump would read it.
While most of my time at CP I could write on the topics I wanted, I recall two separate occasions when I was told I couldn’t criticize prominent evangelical leaders Franklin Graham and Eric Metaxas. This made sense from a business perspective. Graham and Metaxas each have a huge and influential media presence and their audiences closely overlap with CP’s audience. All they would need to do is tell their followers to not read CP and CP would take a big financial hit. This is why it was easy at CP to be sharply critical of liberal leaders — their audiences didn’t overlap with ours, but criticizing prominent conservatives was problematic.
And more on Johnnie Moore, the self-proclaimed “modern day Dietrich Bonhoeffer”:
In 2017, Johnnie Moore was being mentioned as a candidate for the position of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. He asked CP for help in advertising his credentials for the position, while also claiming he didn’t want the position. It was an odd email. If he didn’t want the position, why should we publish articles promoting him for the position? We published two articles after Johnnie Moore’s request, “Meet the 3 Leading Candidates for Trump Religious Freedom Post,” and an op-ed by Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and also a CP advisor, titled, “President Trump Should Appoint Johnnie Moore to Top Religious Freedom Post.” Trump selected Governor of Kansas Sam Brownback for the position.
We heard from Johnnie Moore often by email and occasionally on an editors’ chat. While he was supposed to provide advice to CP, when Johnnie Moore spoke, we couldn’t tell if he was really thinking about the best interests of CP or the interests his clients and Trump. This problem was understood and discussed by both editors and reporters. We appreciated that he was well connected and sometimes helped us get interviews with his clients. But sometimes he would ignore our emails and requests for weeks, then suddenly we would hear from him again when we published a story he didn’t like. Those stories were about his clients or Trump. He wanted to help us, but only to the extent we could help his clients. When it came to Trump, he expected us to behave like state media. Kwon became increasingly frustrated with this side of Johnnie Moore.
In one editor chat, we asked Johnnie Moore for help in getting interviews with Trump administration officials. He remarked that our previous “Donald Trump is a Scam” editorial was a stumbling block. Was he fishing for a quid-pro-quo? Positive coverage in exchange for an interview? I’m still not sure. After that call, I asked Grano if Johnnie Moore was speaking for the administration or himself. Grano answered that he wasn’t sure.
CP editors all understood then that our relationship with Johnnie Moore had to be kept at arm’s length. He was on Team Trump, and would always want us to spin the news in his team’s favor.
Read the entire piece here.