I am intentionally publishing this before Christmas because I do not want politics to mess with my holiday. Recently Christianity Today published an op-ed titled “Trump Should Be Removed from Office”, which has caused a great deal of discussion and controversy. I read and loved the article but I have received what I think is an undue amount of criticism for expressing my appreciation for the article. What bothers me is that no one has asked me why I admire the article, rather people simply jump to defending President Trump. People never stop to ask me if I even want the President removed, it is simply assumed.
So here is why I defend Christianity Today and Mark Galli. The first reason is the first sentence of the fourth paragraph, in it Galli acknowledges the political witch hunt run by Democrats. There was never an attempt to work with the President. Now I know the rebuttal is that the President proved in the primary what kind of leader he was and therefore did not deserve a chance. But there is truth to the idea that President Trump was judged prior to taking office, which is something I think Christians should stand against. I commend Galli for recognizing this bias.
I also commend Galli for admitting that President Trump has done some very positive things while in office. Our tendency as humans is to create absolute categories of good and evil and to place people in those categories based on a few prejudged characteristics. Christianity Today has recognized President Trump is not “all bad” but has aligned himself with causes which the magazine prioritizes.
At the outset Galli has proven Franklin Graham wrong he did not “side with the Democrat Party in a totally partisan attack on the President of the United States”. Rather, he acknowledge the partisan attack and distanced himself from it. He further recognized the good in Mr Trump, which is something I do not hear coming from his political enemies.
Galli then makes his own case against the President. His case begins in the founding of the organization on Christian principles. He acknowledges that the magazine tries to stay out of the political arena; yet at another time felt it necessary to introduce a Christian perspective into the dialogue on a president’s character. At that time the magazine committed to holding the office of the president to specific moral standard. They as a staff feel the President in his actions in general has not held to that moral standard. Notice that Galli leaves room for the Senate to clear the President, but the people (Christians which are his target audience) should recognize the President’s moral failings should disqualify him from office.
Now I am perfectly content with people, even, Christians, disagreeing with Christianity Today’s final view that the President should be removed. What I am not fine with are responses such as Mr. Graham’s which are dismissive of the article (and flatly wrong); or those who do not follow the path which Mr. Galli took to arrive at his conclusion. By that I mean, he acknowledge the biases of both sides, he looked at the President’s whole character, not simply positive or negative elements, he set a standard for the office of president based on Christian convictions, and held to that standard. I am completely comfortable with Christians who are not in favor President Trump’s removal; I am also comfortable with Christians in favor of it. What I am not in favor of are the remarks I have been seeing which sound like they came from party talking points or the nightly news. I am appalled by Franklin Graham’s response to this article, but I am equally appalled by the Christians who identify as Democrats sharing the post as “a wake up call to evangelicals”. Mr. Galli said what all Christians should say, not that all Christians should think Mr. Trump needs to be removed, but that Christians should have a moral standard which is equal for all presidents regardless of party. Mr. Galli saw a moral standard set under President Clinton and saw that President Trump did not live up to the standard the magazine had previously set and wrote a response, good for him. I am sure Christianity Today will lose readers over this and it is a sad indictment on those readers who are not able to engage in sound Christian thinking. I do not need to have the same moral standard as Christianity Today for the President; I may be harsher or more lenient in my assessment in the moral qualification of the President. But I should follow the same approach, recognizing that the political parties are not motivated by justice nor morality but are governed by greed and power. I must acknowledge no President is without fault, nor pure evil. But mostly I must have a standard set for how I deal with the moral behavior of leaders and I had better stick to it, whether it is politically advantageous for me or not, otherwise I am a fraud. I (and others) have said it before 20 years ago the roles were reversed and I heard questions about a president’s morality and qualifications for the office and now many of the actors have taken different sides. I applaud Christianity Today for staying consistent.
( I also appreciated Mark Galli’s followup interview with NPR here. I would enjoy listening to a longer interview with him if anyone knows of one.)