Trump blasts Christian magazine that called for his removal

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump blasted a prominent Christian magazine on Friday, a day after it published an editorial arguing that he should be removed from office because of his “blackened moral record.”

Trump tweeted that Christianity Today, an evangelical magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham, “would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President.”

The magazine “has been doing poorly and hasn’t been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years,” Trump wrote. He questioned whether the magazine would prefer a Democratic president “to guard their religion.”

Some of his strongest evangelical supporters, including Graham’s son, rallied to his side and against the publication. Their pushback underscored Trump’s hold on the evangelical voting bloc that helped propel him into office and suggested the editorial would likely do little to shake that group’s loyalty.

Rev. Franklin Graham, who now leads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and prayed at Trump’s inauguration, tweeted Friday that his father would be “disappointed” in the magazine. Graham added that he “felt it necessary” following the editorial to share that his father, who died last year after counselling several past presidents, voted for Trump. The president thanked Graham for the disclosure.

Christianity Today “represents what I would call the leftist elite within the evangelical community. They certainly don’t represent the Bible-believing segment of the evangelical community,” Graham told The Associated Press in an interview. He wrote on Facebook: “Is President Trump guilty of sin? Of course he is, as were all past presidents and as each one of us are, including myself.”

In a statement issued by the Trump reelection campaign, Cissie Graham Lynch, an advisory board member of Women for Trump and Franklin Graham’s daughter, said she was “outraged” to see the publication invoke her grandfather’s “name to support their personal political agenda.”

The magazine’s circulation is estimated at 130,000. In the editorial titled “Trump Should Be Removed from Office,” Editor-in-Chief Mark Galli wrote that Democrats “have had it out for” the president since he took office.

But Galli asserted that the facts “are unambiguous” when it comes to the acts that led to the president’s impeachment this week by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

Trump “attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents,” Galli wrote, referring to former Vice-President Joe Biden. “That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.”

The schism among Christians about Trump dates back to before his election. Prominent Southern Baptist Russell Moore warned that Trump “incites division” in a 2015 op-ed. The essay cited the Bible in asking fellow Christians to “count the cost of following” him. It later earned a tweeted lashing from then-candidate Trump.

After Trump defended a 2017 white nationalist rally that turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia, one member of his evangelical advisory board stepped down, citing “a deepening conflict in values between myself and the administration.”

But no such break has occurred between the president and the core of his evangelical base. Trump is deeply popular among white evangelical Protestants, with roughly 8 in 10 saying they approve of the way he is handling his job, according to a December poll from The AP-NORC Center.

Many prominent evangelicals have only intensified their support for Trump as Democrats moved to impeach him, circling the wagons despite Trump’s personal history, which includes multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, deeply divisive policies and profanity laced comments.

At the heart of that backing is what pro-Trump evangelicals view as the president’s significant record of achievement on their highest priorities, such as his successful installation of more than 150 conservative federal judges and his support for anti-abortion policies.

“No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close,” Trump said in his tweets. He declared that he “won’t be reading ET again!” using the wrong initials to describe the Christian publication.

Johnnie Moore, a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, tweeted that during the “hyperventilating” over the “inconsequential” editorial, he was at Vice-President Mike Pence’s residence, “where dozens of evangelicals who actually lead MILLIONS were celebrating Christmas undistracted by impeachment & grateful” for the administration’s policies.

Adding that Christianity Today “only represents a certain segment of evangelicals,” Moore tweeted that “this is not a game changing moment or hardly a surprise.”

Another Trump evangelical adviser, Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, tweeted that the magazine is “dying” and “going against 99% of evangelical Republicans who oppose impeachment.”

The editorial did not take a position on whether Trump should be removed by the Senate or by popular vote in the 2020 election, calling it “a matter of prudential judgment.” But Galli wrote that the need for Trump’s removal “is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”

The editorial came one day after Trump became the third president in American history to be impeached. The House charged him with abuse of power in pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations of Biden, and with obstructing Congress in the ensuing probe.

Asked Friday in an interview with CNN about Trump’s critical tweets, Galli said the president’s characterization of the magazine as far left was “far from accurate.” But Galli, who is set to retire from his post next month, also said he is realistic about the impact of his words.

“I don’t have any imagination that my editorial is going to shift their views on this matter,” Galli said of the president’s supporters. “The fact of the matter is Christianity Today is not read by the people — Christians on the far right, by evangelicals on the far right — so they’re going to be as dismissive of the magazine as President Trump has shown to be.”

Amid the furor over the editorial, the Trump campaign announced plans for a Jan. 3 event in Miami called “Evangelicals for Trump.”

___

Schor reported from New York.

___

Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Elana Schor And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Addressing anti-mask protests poses a challenge for leaders, experts say

Quebec’s COVID-19 case numbers hit their highest numbers since the end of May

Canada’s Kennedy to yesterday’s man: former PM John Turner dead at 91

Politicians and other public figures immediately began sharing memories

Community art project will thank front line workers

Red Deerians are painting hearts to say thank you to frontline workers.… Continue reading

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

The 2020 Global Business Forum in Banff, Alta., will be held as a special hybrid event

New tools, ideas needed to speed up housing strategy funding, CMHC president says

Slow turnaround time on some of its national housing strategy programs

Letter containing ricin sent to White House may have come from Canada: RCMP

The letter contained ricin, a toxic substance found naturally in castor beans

Nunavut reports first confirmed COVID-19 cases, saying both are mine workers

The territory says at this time, there is no evidence of transmission within site

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

The pandemic has shown how heavily Canada relies on migrant and undocumented workers

Wetaskiwin RCMP make arrests for Hit and Run to residence

Damage estimates are expected to be in excess of $20,000.

Former prime minister John Turner dead at 91

TORONTO — Former prime minister John Turner, whose odyssey from a “Liberal… Continue reading

Hay’s Daze: Happy to be left out of the picture

Talk about being out of the loop. Head in the sand. Uninformed,… Continue reading

Most Read