Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, published an editorial on Thursday telling his readers that the impeachment hearings “illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see.”
“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,” Galli wrote. “That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.”
Trump’s evangelical supporters justify their loyalty to the president by pointing to his Supreme Court nominees, defense of religious liberty, stewardship of the economy, and other achievements, Galli wrote. But none of the political wins Trump has achieved for evangelicals can justify the “moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.”
“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,” the editor wrote.
Galli’s call to remove Trump from office temporarily crashed the popular evangelical magazine’s website on Thursday afternoon.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives voted Wednesday ― mainly along party lines ― in favor of impeaching Trump for abuse of power and for obstruction of Congress. That made Trump only the third American president in history to be hit with that sanction.
The House accused Trump of leveraging military aid to attempt to solicit help from a foreign government in investigating his 2020 election rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Lawmakers also charged Trump with “unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance” for refusing to turn over documents and allow witnesses to testify during their investigation.
Christianity Today, which was founded by Billy Graham in 1956, now claims a readership of over 5 million.
The late preacher’s son, Franklin Graham, is a vocal Trump supporter who has called the impeachment inquiry a “sham.” Earlier this week, Graham tweeted that Trump was facing an “onslaught of lies, slander & innuendos” even though, Graham contended, he has accomplished more for America “than perhaps any president in modern history.”
“The Dems have been trying to destroy [Donald Trump] since day one,” Graham tweeted on Wednesday.
HuffPost has reached out to Galli, Christianity Today and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, where Franklin Graham is chairman of the board, for comment.
White evangelicals have been a loyal base of support for Trump. In October, before the House Intelligence Committee began its public hearings on impeachment, the Public Religion Research Institute reported that 88% of white evangelical Protestants didn’t think Trump should be impeached and removed from office. That was much higher than any other major religious group surveyed.
In his editorial, Galli hearkened back to how evangelicals ― and Christianity Today itself ― reacted in 1998 to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment. He pointed out that back then, the magazine’s editors claimed that Clinton’s moral failings precluded him from behaving ethically in his public and professional life.
“Unsavory dealings and immoral acts by the President and those close to him have rendered this administration morally unable to lead,” the magazine wrote in an October 1998 editorial.
“Unfortunately, the words that we applied to Mr. Clinton 20 years ago apply almost perfectly to our current president,” Galli wrote on Thursday. “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.”
Galli also warned that how American evangelicals respond to Trump’s behavior today will have a profound impact on their religious movement in the future.
“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,” he wrote. “If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come?”
In October, Galli announced that he was retiring as editor-in-chief of Christianity Today in January after working at the magazine in various capacities for 30 years.
Trump’s Senate trial is expected to begin early next year.