Although that support has remained strong despite the near-constant stream of controversies and frequent incendiary rhetoric that have featured in Trump’s administration, Galli concluded that the necessity for the president’s removal “is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”
Trump took another shot at the publication Friday afternoon, tweeting: “I guess the magazine, ‘Christianity Today,’ is looking for Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or those of the socialist/communist bent, to guard their religion. How about Sleepy Joe?”
He also asserted that “no President has ever done what I have done for Evangelicals, or religion itself!”
Former Vice President Joe Biden is a devout Catholic, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a Methodist and former Sunday school teacher. Both Democratic presidential candidates have quoted Scripture on the campaign trail.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a fellow White House contender, is Jewish and invoked his faith as recently as Thursday night during a televised primary debate.
Responding to Trump’s tweets Friday, Galli told CNN that the president’s characterization of Christianity Today as a “far left magazine” was “far from accurate,” and said the magazine is considered “pretty centrist” among members of the evangelical community.
“We rarely comment on politics unless we feel it rises to the level of some national or concern that is really important, and this would be a case,” Galli said, noting that the magazine published editorials about Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon when impeachment threatened their presidencies.
Galli also argued that his branding of Trump as immoral was not a “particularly unusual or surprising insight,” acknowledging that “people have been saying that for some time.”
“The question is, when does his behavior — which is described as immoral, accurately — rise to the level where he’s no longer fit to serve office. And to me, we cross that line with the impeachment hearings,” he said.
While Galli assessed that congressional Democrats “have been partisan in their efforts to remove the president” and accused them of being “unfair” at points during the contentious proceedings, he insisted that “the facts that arose” during the hours of public impeachment testimony “rise above that partisan level.”
“One of the things I’m trying to say in the editorial is: This is reality,” he said. “No matter how it came about or the motives that helped it come about, this is the world we live in. This is the president we have. And we need to deal with that honestly.”
Galli went on to predict that his editorial would have no significant effect on evangelicals’ opinions of the president and was unlikely to “shift their views on this matter” of Trump’s suitability for office.
“Christianity Today is not read by Christians on the far right, by evangelicals on the far right,” he said. “So they’re going to be as dismissive of the magazine as President Trump has shown to be.”
Sure enough, Jerry Falwell Jr., a conservative religious leader and ardent Trump ally, criticized the magazine Thursday, charging online that the religious periodical had at last “unmasked” itself.
“Less than 20% of evangelicals supported @HillaryClinton in 2016,” he tweeted, “but now @CTmagazine has removed any doubt that they are part of the same 17% or so of liberal evangelicals who have preached social gospel for decades!”
Franklin Graham, the son of the late iconic evangelist Billy Graham — who founded Christianity Today in 1956 — also defended Trump early Friday morning, tweeting that his father would be “disappointed” with Galli’s editorial.
“I hadn’t shared who my father @BillyGraham voted for in 2016, but because of @CTMagazine’s article, I felt it necessary to share now,” Graham wrote. “My father knew @realDonaldTrump, believed in him & voted for him. He believed Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation.”
The president promoted Graham’s disclosure later in the day. “Thank you to Franklin Graham for stating that his father, the late great Billy Graham, voted for me in the 2016 Election. I know how pleased you are with the work we have all done together!” Trump tweeted.