Days after Christianity Today ran a hard-hitting editorial calling President Donald Trump "morally confused" and asserting that he's not fit for high office, Randall Balmer, a professor of religion at Dartmouth College and a former contributor to the magazine, posed a pointed question: What took you so long?
"I concede that I may have missed some signs of deviation from the right-wing norm, but when I returned to the magazine's online archive to check my memory, I mostly encountered a lot of fawning over the likes of Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee outside of the editorial pages," wrote Balmer in a Los Angeles Times op-ed column. "Assuming the mantle of prophet is all well and good. But a prophetic voice seeks to avert calamity rather than redress it."
Balmer wasn't the only one asking that question in the wake of the Dec. 19 editorial, which hit the evangelical community--and the larger political world--like a bolt of lightning. Conservative evangelicals had been marching behind Trump in lockstep, and here was the nation's leading publication for that community, a magazine founded by no less than the late evangelist Billy Graham, taking a decided turn in the opposite direction.
Mark Galli, the editor of Christianity Today, who has since retired, didn't hold back. Referring to the scandal that sparked Trump's impeachment by the House of Representatives, Galli wrote, "But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: 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."
He added, "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."
But Galli didn't stop there. He hit evangelicals where it hurt by pointing out the harm blindly following Trump does to their own witness.
"To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Tramp in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve," Galli wrote. "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...