What's Tony Thinking

Leading Evangelical Magazine Calls for Trump’s Removal


This is significant. The magazine, Christianity Today, founded by Billy Graham in 1956 and the leading magazine of evangelical Christianity, has done something it doesn’t often do: address current politics. Moreover, it has taken a position that puts it at odds with the majority of white evangelicals. CT has said Trump must go.

Here’s CT Editor-in-Chief, Mark Galli:

“Let’s grant this to the president: The Democrats have had it out for him from day one, and therefore nearly everything they do is under a cloud of partisan suspicion. This has led many to suspect not only motives but facts in these recent impeachment hearings. And, no, Mr. Trump did not have a serious opportunity to offer his side of the story in the House hearings on impeachment.

“But 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. 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.”

One of the admirable things about CT speaking out in this way and at this time is that it also did this during the last impeachment, of Bill Clinton. Too many evangelicals who were in high dudgeon, constantly saying “Character counts,” and that Clinton had to go, have turned a blind eye to Trump. Christianity Today and Galli have not. He recalls what they said twenty years ago.

“This concern for the character of our national leader is not new in CT. In 1998, we wrote this:

“The President’s failure to tell the truth—even when cornered—rips at the fabric of the nation. This is not a private affair. For above all, social intercourse is built on a presumption of trust: trust that the milk your grocer sells you is wholesome and pure; trust that the money you put in your bank can be taken out of the bank; trust that your babysitter, firefighters, clergy, and ambulance drivers will all do their best. And while politicians are notorious for breaking campaign promises, while in office they have a fundamental obligation to uphold our trust in them and to live by the law.

“And this:

“Unsavory dealings and immoral acts by the President and those close to him have rendered this administration morally unable to lead.”

Back then, in 1998, I was writing a regular column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. I was one of the few liberal Christians who broke ranks and argued, much as CT did then, that Clinton’s actions were an egregious violation of trust.

That said, there is a notable difference between Trump and Clinton. Clinton was contrite and apologetic, even if not entirely straight-forward. Clinton still had a moral compass. Trump really has none. He continues to insist that his phone call to President Zelensky was “perfect,” and that did nothing remotely wrong. In so arguing, Trump is at least consistent. He believes everything he has done is “perfect.”

Remember that during the 2016 campaign, when asked about his faith, he said that he had never needed forgiveness because he had never — never — done anything wrong. That statement should have been a blinking red, right then, to all evangelical Christians.

So, I thank CT and Editor Galli for his courage and consistency. Predictably, Trump is already attacking CT on Twitter.

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