Christianity Today Impeaches Its Credibility
December 20, 2019
Yesterday, Mark Galli, the outgoing editor-in-chief of Christianity Today published a scathing editorial calling for President Trump to be removed from office. Within hours, the article went viral as the mainstream media rushed to capitalize on what they believed was an opportunity to exploit a divide in President Trump's evangelical supporters. The article was shared on social media so many times that CT's website temporarily crashed and throughout much of today "Christianity Today," "evangelical," and "Billy Graham" while maybe not the best indicator of interest, those terms were ranked higher on Twitter's list of trending stories than last night's Democratic debate.
But anyone following Christianity Today shouldn't be surprised by the magazine's public backing of impeachment. In 2016, CT's executive editor denigrated Christians who supported then-candidate Trump weeks before the general election, writing: "Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord." Dismissing the genuine concerns of millions of evangelicals and publicly questioning their commitment to Christ signaled an out-of-touch, ivory-tower elitism completely out of step with Jesus' own command to love one another (John 13:34).
Fast forward to today, and clearly, the effort to prop up Galli's editorial comes from the fact that Christianity Today was founded by the late evangelist Billy Graham, one of the most well-known and respected Christians in history. Galli wastes no time invoking Graham's name, mentioning him in the article's first line.
The rush to invoke Graham's name for the sake of garnering evangelical credibility earned a stern rebuke from Franklin Graham, the evangelist's eldest son and successor at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. In a lengthy post on Facebook, Franklin Graham wrote, "Yes, my father Billy Graham founded Christianity Today; but no, he would not agree with their opinion piece. In fact, he would be very disappointed." Graham went on to disclose for the first time that his father voted for Donald Trump in 2016, explaining, "I have not previously shared who my father voted for in the past election, but because of this article, I feel it is necessary to share it now. My father knew Donald Trump, he believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump. He believed that Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation."
Turning to the content of the editorial, it is important to note that Christians are not well-served by a biased article that paints a narrow picture of this week's impeachment proceedings which it somehow claims are unbiased enough for Christians to take their cues from. In the article Galli says: "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."
While Galli is entitled to his own opinion, he is not entitled to his own facts. And any honest observer will admit that Galli is merely asserting his own opinion when he claims it is "absolutely clear" the president "betrayed his constitutional oath." In fact, a fair analysis of the impeachment inquiry and the hearings held by the House Judiciary Committee shows there was nothing fair about the partisan way the proceedings were conducted. In fact, as House Republican Whip Steve Scalise noted on the House Floor, Democrats even violated House rules by denying Republicans the ability to call witnesses to testify during at least one day of the hearing. Furthermore, the articles of impeachment were written based on a report that relied on cherry-picked witnesses and lacked any input from the minority or president.
Incredibly, even though Galli admits that "Mr. Trump did not have a serious opportunity to offer his side of the story in the House hearings on impeachment," he somehow insists the president violated the constitution. However, Galli fails to mention that the first Article of Impeachment, "Abuse of Power," does not cite any actual crimes or facts about improper actions taken by President Trump. He also fails to mention the fact that the second Article of Impeachment for "Obstruction of Congress," ignores longstanding constitutional privileges exercised by presidents of both parties. Notably, the Democrats were in such a rush to impeach the president that they did not even bother going to court to subpoena witnesses they claimed were important to the investigation.
All of this demonstrates the highly partisan nature of this week's impeachment proceedings. That's why it was no surprise that not a single Republican lawmaker voted to impeach President Trump. This includes over two dozen Republicans who are retiring from Congress and likely feel more freedom to vote their convictions. Some of these Congressmen, including Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), have criticized the president before on other matters. Yet even Hurd argued there was not enough evidence to proceed with impeachment. This points to the unprecedented partisanship exhibited by Democrats this week. In fact, Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, highlighted Democrat partisanship on Wednesday, noting, "It goes down as the historic failure of the Democratic majority in the House to convince even one or two Republicans to vote against the president."
Worth noting is that as recently as March of this year, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ruled out impeachment, arguing, "Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path, because it divides the country."
This backstory of Pelosi going back on her word and overseeing the most partisan impeachment process in American history, makes Mark Galli's decision to throw CT's weight behind the impeachment sham even more confusing. But especially galling is when Galli argues: "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."
By invoking the Ten Commandments and implying that Christians must support the impeachment charade or else they are not loyal to God crosses the line. Who would he have Christians to support? Those who want to open the flood gates of taxpayer-funded abortion, including up to the day of birth? Thou shall not kill? The God of the Bible is a God of truth and justice. But at this point the President of the United States has simply not been subjected to a fair or just process.
However, Galli does not stop there. He goes on to say, "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."
Putting aside Galli's holier-than-thou patronization, the underdeveloped political theology advanced here represents a failure to look at Trump's record and the growing contrast between the two parties on life, family, and religious liberty. Although Galli recognizes Trump's accomplishments in these areas, Galli goes on to say these positives do not compensate for Trump's failings in other areas. And while President Trump is certainly not perfect, it is totally unfair to imply that support for Trump jeopardizes Christian witness to Christ when many Christians support the president because of his commitment to policies that are grounded in a biblical worldview. Not only is it unfair, but it betrays the prudence and measured judgment that Christians ought to be bringing to a broken world, and a political system which is not perfect but requires us to apply our faith in the best way we can.
Although neither political party perfectly represents evangelical Christians, party platforms do allow us to make considered judgments for who to support at election time. Political scientists have shown that legislators have voted in line with their party's platform nearly 80 percent of the time over the last thirty years. Thus, a party platform is a good indicator for how politicians from that party will vote. And increasingly, party platforms and the political parties they represent show that Republicans and Democrats are divided on the great moral issues facing our nation, particularly abortion and religious liberty. For example, whereas Republicans support the rights of unborn children, Democrats this year denied over 80 requests from Republicans to vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, legislation that would provide protection for infants who survive botched abortions. This is the reason many Christians support President Trump and his party, and for Galli to insinuate that such support is a betrayal of biblical values is wrong.
There is least a basis for supporting President Trump and the Republican Party, even if Galli doesn't agree. For him to claim a Christian is required to take a position which will in effect aid Democrats' efforts to further gruesome, late-term abortion and other anti-biblical policies, hardly seems like the biblical thing to do at all.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.