Trump blasts evangelical magazine after it calls him 'profoundly immoral,' seeks his removal

The president was reacting to a scathing editorial in Christianity Today.
Image: Donald Trump
"No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close," Trump tweeted on Friday.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

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By Allan Smith

President Donald Trump blasted the nation's pre-eminent evangelical publication Friday as a "far-left magazine" after it called for him to be removed from office for his "profoundly immoral" conduct.

"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.

"No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close," he continued. "You'll not get anything from those Dems on stage. I won't be reading ET again!" he wrote, apparently getting the initials of the magazine wrong.

Writing one day after the House voted to pass two articles of impeachment against Trump, Christianity Today Editor-in-Chief Mark Galli wrote that not only was Trump's conduct unconstitutional, but also "profoundly immoral."

"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," he wrote. "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," he continued, "That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral."

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Galli also said that Trump "has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration" and that his Twitter feed "is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused."

Speaking with MSNBC's Ali Velshi on Friday, Galli said his publication was "not a far-left magazine," adding it was often accused of being "too conservative." The publication serves readers across the political spectrum, he added, noting that it's "very rare" for it to comment on politics "unless the moral stakes are raised very high."

Evangelicalism is a "very diverse movement" made up on people beyond the "always Trumpers" who seem to speak most often as representatives of it, Gali said.

Christianity Today was founded in 1956 by the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last year, and has a print circulation of 120,000. His son Franklin Graham wrote his father "would not agree with" his publication and "would be very disappointed."

"Christianity Today said it’s time to call a spade a spade," Graham, a faith leader who has allied with Trump, wrote in a lengthy Facebook post. "The spade is this — Christianity Today has been used by the left for their political agenda. It’s obvious that Christianity Today has moved to the left and is representing the elitist liberal wing of evangelicalism."

"Is President Trump guilty of sin?" Graham continued. "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."

Friday afternoon, the president thanked the younger Graham for announcing publicly that his father voted for Trump and added: "I guess the magazine, 'Christianity Today,' is looking for Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or those of the socialist/communist bent, to guard their religion."

Exit polls in 2016 showed that 80 percent of white evangelical voters backed Trump. A Pew Research Center survey earlier this year found that about 7-in-10 white evangelical Protestants say they approve of Trump's job as president.

"Less than 20% of evangelicals supported @HillaryClinton in 2016 but now @CTmagazine has removed any doubt that they are part of the same 17% or so of liberal evangelicals who have preached social gospel for decades!"

Jerry Falwell Jr., another evangelical leader close to Trump, tweeted. "CT unmasked!"

When President Bill Clinton was impeached 20 years ago, Christianity Today lambasted him, writing that, "Unsavory dealings and immoral acts by the President and those close to him have rendered this administration morally unable to lead."

In his piece, Galli wrote that Trump's actions fit that same description.

"Unfortunately, the words that we applied to Mr. Clinton 20 years ago apply almost perfectly to our current president," he wrote. "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."

The impeachment hearings, Galli wrote, made clear Trump "has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath" and he called on evangelicals to "remember who you are and whom you serve."