Eric Metaxas has spoken out after footage emerged of the broadcaster appearing to punch a protester after the final night of the Republican National Convention.
Metaxas, an award-winning biographer of William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, said that the anti-Trump protester had been bothering him for an extended period of time. "For context, just so you know, the guy came at me with his bike and was very menacing for a long time," he told World Magazine.
The protester, who has yet to be identified, disputed that description of events, telling Religion News Service, "He attacked me, I wasn't threatening or intimidating. I was on a rented bicycle! He clearly punched me from behind."
The original video, which was widely shared on social media, appears to show the protester riding his bike down the street and shouting profanities. Then a man wearing a blazer and white trousers - who appears to be Eric Metaxas - punches him in the back of the head, before running backwards.
A video on Instagram appeared to show the protester later being detained by police. "I didn’t touch him!” the man can be heard shouting.
Following the incident, prominent conservative writer and senior editor of The American Conservative, Rod Dreher, said he was "very surprised" at the report that Metaxas punched the man because he was "one of the most genuine, gentle men I know."
Dreher did, however, appear to try to justify Metaxas' actions. "If Eric felt that the screaming cyclist was a threat to his party - which you could easily imagine if the guy was headed towards them - then that could explain why he reacted as he did," he wrote.
"There’s a part of me that was not sorry to see Eric punch the guy, though it was apparently just a glancing blow. You just get so sick of these people and their filthy mouths, and their berserk screaming at people. You get sick of the pornification of the public square, and the degeneration of civil standards. Sometimes you have to use violence to preserve order."
Dreher was careful to qualify that he wished Metaxas had not punched the protester.
"Eric Metaxas should not have punched the lout," he said, "but that’s not to say the lout didn’t deserve it."
Theologian Katelyn Beaty snapped back at Dreher for his comments, calling him "tone-deaf".
"I know his takes bring a lot of eyeballs to the [American Conservative] website, but as someone who professes Christian faith, he should be held to a higher standard than pageviews," she added.