Yesterday (December 19, 2019), Christianity Today’s editor-in-chief, Mark Galli penned an editorial titled, “Trump should be removed from office.” The hot responses are flowing freely ranging from those who “cry my eyes out” in agreement to those who want to remind the world Billy Graham (one of CT’s founders) voted for Mr. Trump. These will continue, for sure. I wonder if we might see some navigate the middle?
The “middle.” That’s the problem. What is the “middle”? In other words, when we are confronted by leaders who are stupid sinners yet whose policies bring benefit to large masses of people, what do we do? CT’s response is to toss the bum out. This seems inconsistent to me. Mr. Galli, in an interview with the Atlantic said they have always “catered” to the middle-left of the thought spectrum. Isn’t that the demographic where mercy trumps justice (e.g., sanctuary cities)? Where doing social good is a greater virtue than consistent moral turpitude (e.g., opposition to abortion)? Incidentally, what does CT do with Christians who have consistently and historically voted for candidates who were pro-abortion? Who justified their votes for such candidates with some other kind of reason such as a candidates pro-education or pro-woman or pro-racial justice position?
How does CT evaluate our national unemployment rate (lowest since 1969) due to decreased regulation and lower taxes by this Administration? Or, the return of a more robust pro-life policy perspective from the Executive Branch? Or trade policies with nations that correct unfair balances of power led by President Trump? These efforts will, in some cases, literally save lives. Is it that they’ll save the wrong lives?
Mr. Galli refers to the reserve and patience he (and, ostensibly others at CT) have exercised in trying to understand those who support Mr. Trump. The editorial cites some common reasons evangelicals give for their support: Supreme Court appointments, tax cuts, growing economy, stronger defense, etc. In the end, Mr. Galli and CT find those inadequate. Would Mr. Galli and CT find the current crop of socialist-leaning Democratic presidential candidates preferable? They are a bunch of radical pro-abortion, anti-free market, heavy-taxation, open-borders supporters. (Those are easily verifiable from their debate performances, public proclamations or votes in their respective places of public service.) If they are better moral people (dubious claim) but their policies will bring more harm to more people, is that a better route?
This is what makes Mr. Galli’s editorial not courageous at all. Unlike President Clinton whose malfeasance was proven and whose impeachment did carry some bipartisan support because he committed crimes, President Trump’s impeachment was not based on facts and it contained no bipartisan support. (I’ve wondered, does it mean nothing that not a single Republican supported the effort?) I watched the committees do their interviews, put up their provocative slides and shut down the minority party from questioning. What CT has done is align themselves not with some moral majority but with those who are willing to be as myopic as those they claim to oppose. The hatred of Mr. Trump is not because he’s a bully or acts as an “abusive husband” (Mr. Galli’s words in an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep.) They hate him because from day one he’s called out their abuses of power and pointed out their hypocrisy and has not played the “game” as he was supposed to by their playbook. Of course, he’s done all this while carrying much of the same immoral luggage of others.
Why does Mark Galli and CT want the President tossed out? “Blackened moral record.” Have they applied a similar standard to Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Schiff or Mr. Nadler? Are they in a position to exert moral authority over Mr. Trump? What might happen if they were investigated for abuses of power (or former VP Joe Biden’s admitted quid pro quo with the Ukraine)? In what ways have they demonstrated obstruction? Are they more morally upstanding than Mr. Trump?
See, this is the problem. They aren’t. The impeachment of President Trump (whom I did not vote for) was itself immoral as it gave no verifiable facts, allowed no contradicting testimony and was perpetrated apart from any bipartisan support. Aren’t Christians supposed to entertain two or three witnesses? All of those talking heads that have said it would not hold up in court can’t be summarily dismissed, either. Is every single one of them just a party hack of a different color? If it is true that a case like this wouldn’t gain a conviction in a courtroom, then why do we think it is adequate to impeach a President? Saying the impeachment was immoral for these reasons is not to somehow baptize the President’s behavior!
This is where Christians have to do better. We have to work harder to find the “middle” (admittedly, not a great word). Mark Galli and CT chose a path that will win accolades with the center-left of this country but will no longer provide assistance to those who fall in a different place. Mr. Galli wasn’t terribly upset by that since he told Mr. Inskeep that side of the spectrum doesn’t read them anyway. I guess I’m the only one.
He ends the editorial with, “Remember who you are and whom you serve.” What a shockingly manipulative statement. I couldn’t believe it when I read it: what does it mean in this context? That if Christians don’t agree President Trump should be impeached we are going to suffer on Judgment Day? If all don’t agree in the results of an immoral proceeding, we ourselves will be judged? Hardly.
In context, Mr. Galli thinks our witness will suffer if we don’t join the impeachment bandwagon. With whom will it suffer, I wonder? Those who are willing to countenance injustice like this proceeding? Perhaps. I for one am not terribly concerned about offending those who are willing to be blinded from justice for whatever other reasons they might have. I’m not perfect and I’ll annoy someone I shouldn’t or fail to understand something I should. Unfortunately, this editorial resembles the same lack of nuance that is purports to challenge.