A Crack in Evangelicals’ Blind Support for Trump? (Updated)
[See “Update” below.]
In a (welcome) surprise, the influential evangelical magazine Christianity Today, founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham, published a damning editorial, stating that — and justifying why — “Trump Should Be Removed from Office.” Among the reasons stated, Trump’s many moral failings. Specifically, his “profoundly immoral” actions addressed in the impeachment proceedings, “hearings [that] have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see”:
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.
Among the “moral failings,” Christianity Today lists Trump’s “immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud.”
Christianity Today adds, “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.” Christianity Today fails to mention other peccadilloes and character traits we mere mortals have been aware of for years: dishonesty, lack of empathy, vindictiveness, etc., etc.
The author of the editorial, editor in chief Mark Galli, generously calls Trump “ a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”
Since most of us are already aware of the actions by this morally lost and confused individual, perhaps even more interesting are the reasons posed by Galli as to why evangelical Christians have continued to steadfastly, no-matter-what, “in spite of his blackened moral record,” support their idol: “…his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president.”
But, Galli asks, “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?”
Pointing to how the president’s moral deficiencies damage “the institution of the presidency… the reputation of our country…both the spirit and the future of our people” Galli answers the question as follows: “None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.”
Galli warns the many evangelicals who continue to support Trump in spite of his blackened moral record:
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?
To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, 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. It will crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel. And it will come crashing down on a nation of men and women whose welfare is also our concern.
Yes, a damning editorial. However, the question is, will any of it have an impact on evangelicals’ blind, unswerving support for Trump?
Senior Legal Advisor for Trump, Jenna Ellis, has already called Christianity Today “shameful and constitutionally ignorant,”
That it “does not speak for most evangelical Christians;” that “Trump, for instance, is pro-life, appoints conservative judges, values liberty and freedom and self-governance, and acknowledges that our rights come from God our Creator, among many other values and virtues of our American tradition.”
Ellis’ contentions in fact reinforce Galli’s stated reasons as to why evangelicals may continue to support Trump in spite of his serious moral failings.
A short time ago, in a response to Christianity Today, Franklin Graham, the son of late pastor Billy Graham, totally rejectd the editorial: “For Christianity Today to side with the Democrat Party in a totally partisan attack on the President of the United States is unfathomable,” Graham claims.
Read Graham’s full statement here.
And what does the morally lost and confused human being have to say about this?
We did not have to wait long.
In two tweets, Trump rages:
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. 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!
An outburst that the Washington Post characterizes as “thoroughly transactional and megalomaniacal” (this author would add ”juvenile”) and decodes as:
“How dare you criticize me, after all the power I’ve granted to your movement? You’re breaking our deal, and now you’re dead to me.”