'Christianity Today' Editor-In-Chief On Calling For Trump's Removal
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Christianity Today supports President Trump's removal from office. This is a well-known evangelical magazine founded in 1956 by the evangelist Billy Graham. And the magazine invokes Graham's name at the very start of an editorial.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Galli examines the case against the president. He says Democrats are out to get him, but that the president is still guilty of a, quote, "profoundly immoral" use of his power to, quote, "coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president's political opponents." Mark Galli joins us now on the line. Good morning.
MARK GALLI: Good morning.
INSKEEP: Why make this statement now, sir?
GALLI: Well, I think the impeachment hearings made something clear that hadn't been absolutely clear up until now in terms of the president's official behavior as the president. The Mueller hearings were, in my mind - I'm not a political animal. So for me, they were quite confusing and ambiguous. And they didn't really make things as clear as I had hoped. But the impeachment hearings, it became pretty clear, pretty quickly, unambiguously that the president had misused his office for personal political gain.
And that, combined with the generally disreputable moral behavior he has displayed in all sorts of ways through his presidency culminated in a moment that I just said, you know, it's - we've moved beyond, on the one hand, he does these good things. On the other hand, he's got these problems, too. We just need to say what is - what's really going on, what the facts on the ground are.
INSKEEP: You know, when you say that you have problems with his morality throughout his presidency, one of the lines from your editorial is, his Twitter feed alone is a near-perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused. And you're writing this in a Christian magazine. What do you mean as a Christian when you say that about the president?
GALLI: Well, I mean, he slanders people. He tells - he mischaracterizes people. He outright lies. He says things that are verbally abusive to others. These are all moral problems. You don't have to be a religious person to recognize that they're moral problems. And when a person has serious and longstanding and habitual moral habits like that, it's not something just to condemn, but also suggests kind of a deep psychological and moral confusion. And that's why I used that word.
It's not like I have any personal animus against the president. I suspect that if I was in a room with him, we could have a very amiable and delightful conversation. But he does display characteristics that, I think, as a leader of a great nation like the United States, are deeply problematic.
INSKEEP: Why do you think it is that overwhelming majorities of white evangelical Christians support the president? And if we went into a black church, we would hear something very different, most likely. But why do you think it is among white evangelical Christians that that is the view?
GALLI: Well, I'm glad you've given me all of five minutes to talk about that.
INSKEEP: We'll bring you back for a longer discussion, but what's the summary version?
GALLI: That is a very obviously - the summary version. To be the most charitable to my brothers and sisters, I do think they are passionately concerned about pro-life issues. I am as well deeply concerned on pro-life issues. They're passionately concerned about religious freedom issues, I am as well. So I will give them that in the sense that Trump has done a very good job of defending those causes in our minds. So that's, I think, two of the reasons why they're so adamantly supportive of him.
But we've gotten to a point where those things no longer balance the scale. It's like a wife who has a husband who's verbally abusive, but he's still a good provider. He's still a good father to his children. She might put up with that and say, on the one hand, yeah, he's got a bad temper. On the other hand, he's a great dad, and he's a good provider.
When that husband begins to physically abuse the wife and actually become physically dangerous, that doesn't balance the scale anymore. And now that the - the real issue is, should this man be in the house or not? And most of us would say he needs to be out of the house. But he's a good provider. No. That doesn't matter. He needs to be out of the house. And that's how I feel like we've gotten to the point in the Trump administration.
INSKEEP: Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, told The New York Times his father would be embarrassed - of course, Billy Graham, the founder of your magazine. You have anything to say to Franklin Graham?
GALLI: I disagree with him on that. (Laughter) That's all I can say. Yeah.
INSKEEP: Do you have reason to think that your action is in the spirit of Billy Graham?
GALLI: The reason why I think that is because Graham, at the end of his life, became much more sensitive to the moral dimension of politics and his relationship with the president, especially after his fiasco with Richard Nixon. So he tended to be much more circumspect.
And I just don't see him, based on the actions and his statements toward the end of his life - especially post-Nixon - that he would hardly endorse any presidential candidate, let alone someone like Donald Trump. So it's just hard for me to imagine that he would be supportive of Donald Trump given his history. Yeah.
INSKEEP: We should mention that Billy Graham has counseled many presidents and prayed with many presidents and was particularly close to Richard Nixon, who then resigned in disgrace. There is another bit of history that I want to ask about, and it's the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
There are many Republicans and Democrats who were on one side of that impeachment who are now on the opposite side of this impeachment. You explicitly say you want to be on the same side for both. Why is that important to you?
GALLI: Well, because we like to think of ourselves as a magazine and a ministry that holds the line consistently on the things we think are important, the things we believe. And the - what's surprising as I reread the editorial about Clinton, how much it applied to President Trump.
And so it strikes me that - in one regard, it's a surprise that everyone - that Christianity Today has said this. But almost the exact language we used for Clinton applies to Trump. And we're being very consistent in terms of our understanding of the necessity for our national leader to have some measure of moral character that can be admired and can be an example for us and for the world.
INSKEEP: Mr. Galli, thank you very much, really appreciate it.
GALLI: Yep. You're welcome.
INSKEEP: Mark Galli is the retiring editor-in-chief of Christianity Today. He's going away in eight days. And on the way out, he wrote an editorial calling for the impeachment and removal of President Trump.
Now, the president has been responding on Twitter. He alleges the Christian publication is, quote, "a far-left magazine" and that it would rather have a, quote, "radical left nonbeliever" as president in place of Trump. If the president were removed, as Christianity Today calls for, his replacement would be Vice President Mike Pence.
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