Sunday, December 22, 2019

Christianity Today Editorial Supports Removal

Christianity Today is one of the most prominent magazines in the evangelical world, and evangelical support for Donald Trump remains - as I see it - ridiculously high. So I was pleasantly surprised to read about an editorial in the magazine in support of removing Trump from the presidency. I do know that not all Christians, or even all evangelicals, necessarily fall into the categories that I routinely make fun of here on Audoeides, like those who claim to be oppressed by the mere existence of different opinions. Folks in those categories get all the media attention, though, so they tend to be the ones I see the most.

The flagship magazine of American evangelicalism, Christianity Today, released a surprise editorial on Thursday calling for the removal of Donald Trump from the presidency.

“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,” Editor-in-Chief Mark Galli wrote. “None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.”

Founded by Billy Graham in the 1950s, Christianity Today is widely ready by pastors, institutional leaders, and churchgoers. The editorial sent shockwaves through evangelical circles on Thursday. The magazine has been critical of Trump in the past, but has avoided a full-throated condemnation of him.

The editorial makes the good point that in the 1990s, Christians supported the impeachment of Bill Clinton over lying in a deposition for a civil suit that was dismissed before it even went to trial. Their position at that time was ostensibly that honesty showed good character and therefore dishonesty by public officials should not be tolerated, even in personal matters unrelated to governing the country. If they still consider that true, it's pretty hard to come up with a scenario in which Trump has not engaged in conduct that's objectively worse.

On the other hand, it's hard to see the position that it's okay when Republicans do it, but not okay when Democrats do it as anything other than the sort of rank hypocrisy that Christians are supposed to avoid. That whole idea means that "morality" is irrelevant, or at the very least secondary to temporal wealth and political power. Jesus had a lot to say about both of those, little of it good. The modern Prosperity Gospel movement throws that all away, but as I keep pointing out here that perspective is a highly twisted and suspect form of Christianity.

So it pleases me to see that there are evangelicals out there who are not completely in the tank for Trump and are tired of his lack of any Christian principles aside from hating the same people that the most conservative Christians do. And honestly, why they wouldn't prefer a true believer like Vice President Mike Pence over Trump has never made sense to me. They know that he becomes president if Trump is removed, right? I only mention that because from some of the statements I've seen, it sounds like there are people out who think it will go to Hillary Clinton - which it totally won't.

For the record, enough Republicans (if any) in the Senate are never going to vote to remove Trump from office, so to some extent this discussion is all academic. And in some ways, I would say that Pence is scarier than Trump - he's a true believer who knows how to work the political system, whereas Trump is all bluster and just thrashes around. My point here is simply that it's nice to see at least a few evangelicals who are willing to stand up for their principles in a coherent way.

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