The magazine Christianity Today was founded by the late Reverend Billy Graham in 1956, and today has a readership of about 260,000. It is an evangelical Christian periodical often referred to as “evangelicalism’s flagship magazine”. When Graham founded the magazine, he said he wanted to “plant the evangelical flag in the middle-of-the-road, taking the conservative theological position but a definite liberal approach to social problems”.
Yesterday, Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, published an editorial about Donald Trump titled Trump Should Be Removed From Office, and I’d like to share a portion of that piece.
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. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.
The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.
We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.
Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.
To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? 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?
To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence.
I don’t profess to know whether Mr. Galli’s words can be taken as an indicator that the evangelical community is losing some degree of their admiration for Trump or not, but one can only hope. Those evangelicals who have slavishly supported Trump, came quickly to his defense once the editorial was published. Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, about whom I’ve written before, claimed that …
“He [Billy Graham] would’ve been very embarrassed that the magazine he started would call for something like this when there are no crimes committed. It’s a totally different magazine than what he started. For Christianity Today to side with the Democrat Party in a totally partisan attack on the President of the United States is unfathomable.”
And, of course Trump had to tweet his rambling, ranting and irrelevant two-cents worth …
“A far left magazine, or very “progressive,” as some would call it, which has been doing poorly and hasn’t been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years, Christianity Today, knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call and would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President. No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close. You’ll not get anything from those Dems on stage. I won’t be reading ET again!”
In a conversation with Mr. Galli this morning, he told The Washington Post that the email response to his editorial had been overwhelmingly positive, though he had received at least one threat. Threats are, after all, the favoured tool of Trump and his faithful followers.
It is my hope that this is a sign that Trump is falling out of favour with at least some of the evangelicals, but I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch on this one.