Trump hits out at evangelical magazine that called for his ouster

Chris Lefkow
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US President Donald Trump has a surprising amount to celebrate this week, considering he's just been impeached

US President Donald Trump has a surprising amount to celebrate this week, considering he's just been impeached (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Washington (AFP) - US President Donald Trump lashed out on Friday at a leading evangelical Christian publication after it published a scathing editorial that branded him morally unfit to remain in the White House.

Trump, in a series of tweets, accused Christianity Today magazine of being "far left" and claimed he was the best ally evangelicals have ever had as president.

"The fact is, no President has ever done what I have done for Evangelicals, or religion itself!" Trump said.

Christianity Today "would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President," he said.

The magazine, a day after Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives, said it was "necessary from time to time to make our own opinions on political matters clear."

"The facts in this instance are unambiguous," it said in a reference to Trump's bid to obtain political dirt from Ukraine on his potential 2020 election rival, Democrat Joe Biden.

"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," the magazine said.

"That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral."

Christianity Today was founded by Billy Graham, a prominent Christian evangelist who died last year, but the Graham family is no longer associated with the publication.

Franklin Graham, the late Baptist minister's son, is also an influential Christian evangelical leader and a staunch Trump supporter and he denounced Christianity Today on Friday.

"Yes, my father Billy Graham founded Christianity Today; but no, he would not agree with their opinion piece," Graham said in a Facebook post. "In fact, he would be very disappointed.

"My father knew Donald Trump, he believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump," Graham said. "He believed that Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation."

"For Christianity Today to side with the Democrat Party in a totally partisan attack on the President of the United States is unfathomable," Graham added. "It's obvious that Christianity Today has moved to the left and is representing the elitist liberal wing of evangelicalism."

- 'Broken character' -

Another prominent evangelical leader, Jerry Falwell Jr, issued a series of tweets in support of Trump.

Trump tweeted his thanks to Graham for his support and "the work we have all done together!"

The Trump re-election campaign also announced plans to hold an "Evangelicals for Trump" event in Miami on January 3.

Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, which has a circulation of 130,000, rejected the president's assertion the magazine was "far left."

"Most people consider us a pretty centrist magazine in the evangelical world," Galli told CNN.

Christianity Today said Trump "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," it said.

The magazine added: "Trump's evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support."

But Trump's moral failings outweighed those considerations.

"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?" Christianity Today said.

The magazine described the debate among Trump critics over whether to remove him by impeachment or via the next election as "a matter of prudential judgment."

"That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments," it concluded.

Trump has enjoyed solid support from white evangelical Christians although a Fox News poll in October found that those backing him had slipped from 81 percent in the 2016 election to around 70 percent now.