President Donald Trump kicked off his Friday morning by tweeting angrily about a Christian magazine. He was livid that Christianity Today — an influential publication founded by the evangelical leader Billy Graham — ran an editorial calling for his removal from office.
“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,” Trump tweeted.
On the heels of being impeached by the House this week, it makes sense that Trump is angry: the editorial from CT is scathing.
“The facts in this instance are unambiguous: 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,” wrote CT editor-in-chief Mark Galli. “That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.”
But what made the editorial especially powerful is that CT didn’t just call out Trump — it urged its Christian readers to abandon Trump to preserve their own morality:
“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?”
White evangelicals are an important voting bloc for Trump, but there have been signs of decaying support for the president among that group. Exit polls in 2016 suggested 80 percent of white evangelicals cast a ballot for Trump. A Morning Consult poll earlier this year found just 55 percent of white evangelicals preferred Trump as the 2020 GOP nominee, versus some other Republican like Vice President Mike Pence.
Still, overall, white evangelicals haven’t come close to fully jumping ship. Trump has a 75 percent approval rating among the demographic, according to an NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll this month. Galli said in an interview that he spoke out, in part, because he was concerned about the long-term damage Trump was doing to Christians’ ability to share the Gospel.
“Oh my God. It’s going to be horrific,” Galli told The Atlantic, referencing Christianity’s association with Trump. “We’ve been a movement that has said the moral character of our leaders is really important. And if they fail in that department, they can’t be a good influence.”
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks during a summit on transforming mental health treatment to combat homelessness, violence, and substance abuse, at the the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)