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. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.
The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.
… None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.
This concern for the character of our national leader is not new in CT. In 1998, we wrote this:
The President’s failure to tell the truth—even when cornered—rips at the fabric of the nation. This is not a private affair. For above all, social intercourse is built on a presumption of trust: trust that the milk your grocer sells you is wholesome and pure; trust that the money you put in your bank can be taken out of the bank; trust that your babysitter, firefighters, clergy, and ambulance drivers will all do their best. And while politicians are notorious for breaking campaign promises, while in office they have a fundamental obligation to uphold our trust in them and to live by the law.
Unsavory dealings and immoral acts by the President and those close to him have rendered this administration morally unable to lead.
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. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?
Mark Galli, Trump Should Be Removed from Office, Christianity Today, 12/19/19.
I understand and respect Christianity Today’s customary avoidance of making politics central, or even prominent, among its concerns. It certainly has not, unlike the Democrats, “had it out for [Trump] from day one,” and therefore is exempt from the “cloud of partisan suspicion.”
I have many, many criticisms of Evangelicalism as my former spiritual home, some of which have been addressed here, more at least alluded to. But it stands alongside the Roman Catholic Church (and unlike mainstream Protestantism or the Orthodox Church) as an embodiment of what people envision when they hear or read “Christianity” or “the Church(es)” — if my judgment, which has lost contact with my countrymen in many ways, can be trusted this once.
So for the sake of the Christian faith and its ecclesial embodiment, I hope, without being very hopeful, that many Evangelicals will heed CT’s articulate call for removal of Donald Trump, an utter moral shipwreck, from the office of the Presidency.
Green: One of the things that you seem most concerned about in the editorial is the reputation of evangelicalism—of Christianity—and the damage that this association with Trump might do to Christian witness.
I wonder how much that motivates you—your belief that the association with Trump is going to do long-term damage to the ability of Christians to share the Gospel.
Galli: Oh my God. It’s going to be horrific.
We’ve been a movement that has said the moral character of our leaders is really important. And if they fail in that department, they can’t be a good influence. That’s what CT said when Nixon’s immoralities were discovered. That’s what we said when Clinton’s immoralities were discovered. And one of the reasons I thought we should say it now is because it’s pretty clear that this is the case with Donald Trump.
Unfortunately, a number of my brothers and sisters will just defend him to the end. They somehow think that’s going to be a good witness to the Gospel. It’s unimaginable to me how they think that, but they do. And I just think it’s a big mistake.
I will acknowledge, and I did acknowledge, that the Democrats are riding on a partisan horse here. They just vehemently hate Donald Trump. And they’ve been trying from day one to get him out of office. There’s no question about that.
But that doesn’t take away from the fact that what they discovered is actually true. That’s the thing that’s disappointing about my evangelical and conservative friends. They just won’t admit it. They just won’t say it. They just say, “It’s partisan.” Well, yeah. It’s partisan. But this partisan effort happened to uncover something that was really bad.
The fact that not a single Republican, and none of my evangelical, conservative friends, has been able to admit that strikes me as a deep and serious problem.
I’m sorry, Emma. I’m going to start preaching—I used to be a pastor. I don’t think the Republican Party or the Democratic Party are exemplars of moral virtue. As most commentators have noted, our country is in a really deeply troubling state when it comes to ethical and moral leadership. I’m certainly not going to say, “Oh, all the politicians are really ethical and Donald Trump isn’t.” No. But he happens to be the president of the United States. He deserves a certain amount of focus.
Mark Galli interviewed by Emma Green at the Atlantic
* * * * *
Sailing on the sea of this present life, I think of the ocean of my many offenses; and not having a pilot for my thoughts, I call to Thee with the cry of Peter, save me, O Christ! Save me, O God! For Thou art the lover of mankind.
(From A Psalter for Prayer)