News & Politics

Christianity Today Editor Takes a Step Back: 'I'm Not Making a Political Judgment, I'm Making a Moral Judgment'

Christianity Today editor Mark Galli on "Face the Nation." Source: Screenshot Face The Nation / CBS.

Christianity Today editor-in-chief Mark Galli said Sunday on “Face The Nation” that his call for evangelicals to support the impeachment of President Trump was “hyperbole.” The intention of the piece was just to “argue” that Trump is “unfit for office” because of his “public morality.”

“In one sense my call for his removal was on the order of hyperbole in this regard: the odds of that happening by election or by the Senate are actually probably fairly slim at this point,” Galli said. “What I’m really arguing in the piece fundamentally is that the president is unfit for office. Now, that may be a distinction without a difference, but the point is, and I’m not really speaking politically. I’m not making a political judgment, because that’s not our expertise at Christianity Today. I am making a moral judgment that he’s morally unfit.”

But even that isn’t precise enough. “More precisely, it’s his public morality that makes him unfit. Because all of us, anybody in leadership has, none of us are perfect. We’re not looking for saints. We do have private sins, ongoing patterns of behavior that reveal themselves in our private life that we’re all trying to work on. But a president has certain responsibilities as a public figure to display a certain level of public character and public morality and the point of my argument is not to judge him as a person in the eyes of God, that’s not my job, but to judge his public moral character and ask: Has he gone so far that the evangelical constituency that we represent, can we in good conscience do the trade-off anymore? He gives us what we need on pro-life, but he’s got this bad character.”

“The fundamental argument I’m making is we crossed a line somewhere in the impeachment hearings, at least in my mind, that balance no longer works. We’re dealing with a person who we…” at which point Galli was interrupted by CBS’ Margaret Brennan. She told him that he’s clearly an outlier. Even CBS’s polling shows that 79% of white evangelicals support Trump. Why is that? Is that because they feel he’s delivering on actual issues that are important to them?

“Yeah, I think the pro-life issue is just one of many. Religious freedom for Christians, overseas especially, would be another,” Galli answered, hereby admitting that with regards to his policies, Trump is actually doing a lot for evangelicals. “There have been books written about what’s been going on with the conservative evangelical support for Trump so that’s not something we can get into here. It does go fairly deep.”

“I think what I’m mostly concerned with,” he continued, “is […] the unwillingness of my brothers and sisters in Christ — again, I have no animus against them — but it strikes me as strange that people who take the teachings of Jesus Christ seriously, the teachings of the 10 Commandments seriously, that we can’t at least say, publicly and out loud and in front of God and everybody, that this man’s character is deeply, deeply concerning to us, and in my judgment has crossed a line, and I no longer think he’s fit to lead the United States of America. And I don’t say that politically. I mean, our job as Christians is to love our neighbor. We want the United States, everybody, left, right, black, white, every variety of sexualities, we want them to prosper. And I’m saying that, given the moral character, the public moral character of our president, that’s not going to happen. It’s likely to degenerate very radically over the next… it has already degenerated, and it’s time for us to put a stake in the ground and say ‘no more.'”

Galli makes no sense whatsoever. On the one hand, he says that this isn’t a political judgment. Oh no, it’s merely a moral judgment. But then, the “morality” he talks about is Trump’s public morality, not his private morality, because he doesn’t consider himself fit to judge the latter. With regards to Trump’s public morality, however, he also admits that the man is doing a lot of good for evangelicals, for example with regards to abortion and religious rights.

So, he’s not fit to judge Trump’s private character, he’s also not fit to judge Trump politically… he’s only fit to judge Trump’s public moral character, and that moral character is flawed because he asked Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate the Bidens?

If he called for Trump’s impeachment in response to the president once again angrily lashing out at people on Twitter or because he insulted this or that person in a speech, you’d get it — even though you may disagree with it. But in this particular case, related to Zelensky and impeachment? That’s just strange.

To make matters even worse, Galli eventually answered “I grant that” when Brennan told him that many evangelicals won’t vote for a Democrat because of the issues. “I’m saying what I think,” he added. “And the only person I represent is me and maybe my magazine. Not for that much longer since I’m retiring in a few days… I don’t have a strategy. I’m not a political person.”

You’re not a political person but you are calling for the impeachment of a president, which is one of the most political things you can possibly do?

I know some evangelicals who have trouble supporting Trump — or who are even NeverTrump. However, unlike Galli, they can at least make a solid argument for their position. Galli, on the other hand, sounds like a guy who desperately wants to put some distance between himself and the president, but who doesn’t really know what argument (or excuse) to use.

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Follow me on Twitter: @GalienMichael.