US President Donald Trump lashed out yesterday at a leading evangelical Christian publication that called him “morally lost and confused” and said he should be removed from office.
Trump, in a series of tweets, accused Christianity Today magazine of being “far left” and claimed that he was the best White House ally that evangelicals have ever had.
“No president has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close,” Trump wrote.
He said Christianity Today “would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President.”
In an editorial on Thursday, a day after Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives, Christianity Today said it was “necessary from time to time to make our own opinions on political matters clear”.
“The facts in this instance are unambiguous,” it said in a reference to Trump’s bid to obtain political dirt from Ukraine on his potential 2020 election rival, Democrat Joe Biden.
“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,” the magazine said. “That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.”
Christianity Today was founded by Billy Graham, a prominent Christian evangelist who died last year, but the Graham family is no longer associated with the publication.
Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son, is also an influential Christian evangelical leader and a staunch Trump supporter and yesterday he denounced Christianity Today.
“Yes, my father Billy Graham founded Christianity Today; but no, he would not agree with their opinion piece,” Graham said in a Facebook post. “In fact, he would be very disappointed.”
“My father knew Donald Trump, he believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump,” Graham said. “He believed that Donald J Trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation.”
“For Christianity Today to side with the Democrat Party in a totally partisan attack on the President of the United States is unfathomable,” Graham said. “It’s obvious that Christianity Today has moved to the left and is representing the elitist liberal wing of evangelicalism.”
Another prominent evangelical leader, Jerry Falwell Jr, issued a series of tweets in support of the Republican president.
Mark Galli, the editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, which has a circulation of around 130,000, rejected Trump’s assertion that the magazine was “far left”.
“We consider ourselves, and most people consider us, a pretty centrist magazine in the evangelical world,” he told CNN.
Christianity Today said Trump “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 mischaracterisations, lies, and slanders – is a near-perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused,” it said.
The magazine said “Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defence of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support.
“We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear ... that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath.”
“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?” the magazine asked.
“Whether Mr Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election – that is a matter of prudential judgment,” it said. “That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”
Trump has enjoyed solid support from white evangelical Christians although a Fox News poll in October found that those backing him had slipped from 81% in the 2016 election to around 70% now.
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