The impeachment of President Trump has fiercely divided the nation. Although Trump won't be removed from office unless the Senate votes to do so — an unlikely outcome — many people are expressing support for the idea, and some of it is coming from unexpected sources. On Thursday, influential evangelical magazine Christianity Today advocated for Trump's removal from office, and the president wasn't so happy about it.
Founded by the late preacher Billy Graham, Christianity Today was described in 2015 as "evangelicalism's flagship magazine." The magazine continues to be a major forum for evangelical thought and largely appeals to a moderate audience.
In an op-ed published Thursday, the magazine's editor-in-chief Mark Galli noted that "the typical CT approach is to stay above the fray and allow Christians with different political convictions to make their arguments in the public square." However, Galli pointed out that impeachment is a "significant event" that "requires comment."
"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."
CT's op-ed ended up garnering traction across the internet. Morgan Lee, host of CT's Quick to Listen podcast, tweeted, "Congrats to Mark Galli for his mic drop two weeks before retirement. He has crashed our site!"
Evangelicals have consistently made up a large portion of Trump's base; it was their unshakeable support for the candidate, in the hopes that he might solidify a pro-life majority on the Supreme Court, that helped carry him into office. That's why seeing CT call for his removal from office is so astounding. Still, it's important to note that CT's editorial is focused on impeachment alone, and the facts of the case regarding Trump's behavior toward Ukraine.
Long before becoming president, Trump was criticized for his history of racist policy and actions, like when he doubled down on claiming the Central Park Five were guilty despite DNA evidence concluding otherwise. Trump has been consistently accused of racist rhetoric and policy since taking office, too, but CT's editorial does not acknowledge these flaws.
Given how the editorial exploded, it's no surprise that the article reached Trump himself. The president ended up attacking the conservative magazine as "progressive," tweeting that CT was a "far left" magazine that's been "doing poorly" and "hasn't been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years."
To be clear, CT isn't close to a "far left" or "progressive" magazine as Trump claims. In an interview with The Atlantic, Galli identified CT's audience as "moderate, center-right, and center-left evangelicals." It's long been a published hub for evangelical thought and is "vehemently anti-choice," as author and musician Mikel Jollett noted.
Although the editorial has exploded online, The Atlantic pointed out that "much of its readership is international, and many older print subscribers might not even register the small, seismic event that just happened on CT’s website."
With that in mind, it's unlikely that CT's editorial will cause evangelicals as a whole to turn away from Trump. However, Galli seemed to preemptively address the fact that some readers will continue supporting the president, speaking directly to them towards the end of the editorial.
"Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior," Galli 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?"