Mark Galli, retiring Editor of Christianity Today, writes this op/ed calling for the impeachment of Trump:
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.
I’m not sure the facts are “unambiguous” as Galli writes, perhaps he watched a different set of hearings and read a different call transcript than I and many others did. Not only is there zero evidence of “quid pro quo” but there is no evidence for any “Constitutional violation” as Galli claims. That Trump merely asking a question in a rather short call is mischaracterized here as “harassment” seems wildly disingenuous, especially as Galli attempts to wrap this remark in Christianity for moral authority. Furthermore, “quid pro quo” is a silly take that ignores how the basis of all foreign policy is some form of give and take (and should be, particularly with our tax dollars). I loved Andy McCarthy’s take on this (we also discussed in on my radio show) — and I’ll add that the election itself is a give and take, or quid pro quo. You as a voter expect a return on the investment of your vote.
Galli does similar with his presentation of the “number of people” who are now “convicted criminals.” On Manafort, yes — I personally was not a fan of Paul Manafort’s inclusion in the campaign due to his history which I felt would be a liability to Trump during the general, but to compare Manafort and his actual crimes to Mike Flynn and a fabricated process charge is is fairly ridiculous. If you recall, Flynn was interviewed by Peter Strzok, the same smarmy Peter Strzok who exchanged texts with his mistress on their work phones, messages about having an “insurance policy” in the event Trump won. Just as the FBI stands accused of omitting that the CIA informed them Carter Page was working for them against Russia while the FBI compiled information for FISC to surveil him, just as an anti-Trump FBI lawyer is under investigation for altering emails related to the investigation, so too is the FBI accused of fudging their notes in the Flynn case so as to get him on a process charge. Rick Gates, a loathsome character, turned on his former business partner Manafort and spent 45 days in jail. George Papadopoulos spent 14 days in jail for what some say was wrongful targeting by the FBI. Remember — this was all part of the Mueller probe into the Russian collusion that wasn’t. This is the truth of Galli’s accusation, but rather than include these details, he glosses over them with a vague “number of convicted people” without mentioning that all but two are contested process charges with questionable methodology. That doesn’t seem like a fair take, nor does the proclamation that that Trump “remains proud” of his past mistakes.
We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see.
Again, I and many others fail to see where this “abuse” took place. Read the transcript for yourself. I’m also not sure how the hearings further illuminated his “moral deficiencies,” did we not know about his previous marriage, affairs, et al. before the hearings? I’ve known about these things since I was in elementary school and watched “Designing Women” with my mom, a show which featured an entire episode about Trump and his first marriage. Is acknowledgement of his admitted failings endorsement of them? It sure isn’t an endorsement of them, or of anyone’s transgressions. That’s what Galli seems to suggest, that support of Trump is an excuse or endorsement of his transgressions.
To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: 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? 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?
CT lauds itself for their self-described “reserve” and “patient charity” but it seems odd when contrasted with the tone and substance of this editorial.
(CT once featured an op/ed by Tim Kaine wherein Kaine attempted to make the Christian case for government, rather than individual stewardship of our fellow man — it’s a practice I’ve seen before, the attempt to rewrite Jesus as a socialist figure, which Scripture doesn’t support.)
Forgive me, but I don’t think surrendering the fight for life to the abortion-on-demand left because of Trump’s Tweets is the best way to demonstrate piety. I also don’t discount the omnipotence of God when it comes to His history of using flawed people (which we all are) for His glory. The giant of Christian mission work was a man with more red in his ledger than Trump and yet God used him. I’ll be honest: The reason this sort of commentary bothers me is because it presents redemption as unattainable and undeserving, whether that message is meant or not. Christians are mocked all the time for saying things like “God chose Trump” but those doing the ridiculing misunderstand the root of the remark in Daniel 2:21 (and Acts 17:26) — Christians aren’t saying that Trump was specially selected because of purity or good behavior. Some of the most corrupt and criminal people in the Bible have been raised according to God’s will because, as I have so often heard in church, God doesn’t call the justified, He justifies the called (Romans 8:30). I don’t know what’s in Trump’s heart and I’m not going to pretend that I do. But I know this: He is where he is at this time because God allowed it. I’m not sure why, amongst the options for Christians in the referenced editorial, is absent the choice to support the good things the President does while offering Godly correction when warranted, praying daily, and advancing the kingdom in our own spheres of influence?
Some have said we shouldn’t overstate the importance of this Christianity Today editorial from an outgoing editor, which would be well received if it wasn’t widely used as a cudgel by godless media looking for a “rejected by Christians” narrative. And yes, CT doesn’t represent all Christians and Christians aren’t a monolith — but within the cited editorial they most certainly are questioning the discipleship of those who plan to vote for Trump in 2020 or at the very least suggesting that support for Trump is somehow incompatible with faith. If it was unintentional it doesn’t seem like much of an effort was made to avoid the confusion.
(While my tone may stumble in conveying it, I do not mean to be combative here, but rather my intent is to question, challenge, correct, or at the very least, present an alternative.)