In a harshly worded editorial, the editor of Christianity Today, the evangelical magazine founded by Billy Graham, called for President Trump to be removed from office.
Posted Thursday afternoon, it viewed the evidence from the House impeachment hearings as having made a clear case that Trump had abused his office for personal gain and violated the Constitution.
“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,” Mark Galli wrote. “That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.”
More so than the Mueller investigation, Galli said that the impeachment hearings “have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see.” He added, “None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.”
Galli accused the president of having “dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration,” pointing out that several of the people he’s hired are “now convicted criminals,” and noting that Trump remains “proud of” actions he’s taken in dealing with business and with women.
“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,” Galli stated.
Early Friday morning, Trump fired back on Twitter, saying the magazine would “rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President.”
….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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2019
Since the beginning of his presidency, Trump has enjoyed the support of evangelical leaders, many of whom cheered on the president for his focus on nominating conservative judges and emphasizing religious freedom. At the beginning of the impeachment inquiry, 99% of Republican white evangelical Protestants opposed Mr. Trump’s impeachment and removal.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Franklin Graham said his late father would have been “very disappointed” to read this editorial. He claimed his father had voted for Trump before he died and accused the magazine of launching “a totally partisan attack on the President of the United States.”
“It’s obvious that Christianity Today has moved to the left and is representing the elitist liberal wing of evangelicalism,” he wrote. “Is President Trump guilty of sin? Of course he is, as were all past presidents and as each one of us are, including myself. Therefore, let’s pray for the President as he continues to lead the affairs of our nation.”
But the editorial warned evangelical leaders that their support for Mr. Trump was making them into hypocrites. Addressing the “the many evangelicals who continue to support President Trump in spite of his blackened moral record,” Galli wrote:
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?
In this “political poker game,” Galli said, “we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence. And just when we think it’s time to push all our chips to the center of the table, that’s when the whole game will come crashing down.”
Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, wrote a response to the editorial on Facebook, calling it “unfathomable” and saying his late father would not agree with the piece. “In fact,” he said, “he would be very disappointed.”