A Grudging Concession to Reality

Regarding last night’s debate, I pretty much agree with what Ezra Klein says here.

Thanks to WaPo, we have corroboration that Trump got the idea that Ukraine meddled with elections from Vladimir Putin.

The buzz today has focused on Christianity Today, which published an editorial calling for Trump to be removed from office.

… 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.

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.

The editorial goes on to say that political expedience is no excuse for ignoring immoral words and behavior.

Christianity Today, which I understand to have the largest circulation of any Christian magazine in the U.S., is associated with evangelicalism and was founded by Billy Graham. But the editorial doesn’t surprise me. There are evangelicals and other evangelicals. Some of them are genuinely sincere about their faith. They aren’t all brainless goobers.

At the same time, I don’t think this represents any kind of shift. Because a lot of them are brainless goobers.

One clarification is necessary: Christianity Today is not far left. It’s not liberal, either. It’s not even loosely centrist. It is a conservative publication, it always has been, and Galli’s editorial doesn’t change its political orientation. The magazine will still oppose abortion rights and marriage equality, and the editorial itself is not exactly a comprehensive rejection of Trump and all that he represents. “Let’s grant this to the president: The Democrats have had it out for him from day one, and therefore nearly everything they do is under a cloud of partisan suspicion,” Galli wrote.

The piece is just as notable for what it doesn’t say. Missing from the editorial: the two dozen sexual-assault allegations against Trump, the migrant children who died in camps at the border, any mention of the racism and Islamophobia that have characterized this presidency from its first day. The editorial is not an act of courage but a grudging concession to reality. It also will not alter Evangelical support for Trump at all.

Trump’s reaction was predictable:

One assumes he meant “CT” instead of “ET,” unless he’s pissed at Engineering Today also. But one also doubts he ever read Christianity Today in his life. No centerfold.

Greg Sargent:

Indeed, the transactional cast to Trump’s rage over this is particularly instructive, once you understand that Trump and his top advisers have consciously enlisted the nation’s evangelicals as an army of Trump defenders in the war against impeachment, which is widely depicted in the evangelical movement as a kind of epic persecution of Trump carried out by the godless and the damned.

As Sarah Posner details in a terrific piece, this effort is concerted, multifaceted and highly organized. Numerous high-profile evangelicals regularly depict impeachment as a disruption of God’s plan for America to be governed by Christians in accord with “biblical” values.

Impeachment is merely the weapon that the secular, satanic left is wielding to carry out its broader pro-abortion, anti-religious-liberty agenda, which requires the removal of Trump, the savior of Christian America, all to keep the persecution of Christians going at full throttle.

Those who have already sold their souls are not going to petition to get them back. Sarah Posner:

In the eyes of evangelical loyalists, Trump is a salvific figure who must be defended to save Christian America from a catastrophic downfall at the hands of overweening Democrats. After 25 evangelical advisers met with him at the White House in late October, participants, including the Christian public relations guru Johnnie Moore, whom Trump appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, pushed out photographs of them praying with the president on social media. (Moore did not respond to interview requests for this article.) In an interview the day after the meeting, evangelical adviser Robert Jeffress, the Dallas megachurch pastor and Fox News personality, said that most evangelicals “believe this impeachment is an attempt to overthrow the 2016 election and therefore negate the votes of millions of evangelical Christians.” These voters, he went on, “see it as a war for the soul of our nation.” Jeffress predicted that evangelicals would react “very poorly” to Republican senators voting to convict Trump in an impeachment trial.

Trump has given them the judges they want, so that abortion and LGBTQ rights can be destroyed. Trump supports their twisted vision of “religious freedom” that allows them to use the power of government to enforce their religious beliefs on others. Trump sanctifies their status as the dominant tribe, in other words. And that’s all they care about. Oh, and money and power. They like those, too.

Paula White, the over-the-top televangelist who serves in an official White House post as the adviser to his Faith and Opportunities Initiative, has the last word in Posner’s article:

White has a plan to protect Trump from those dark forces, vanquish his enemies, and to defend the “biblical” government that has elevated Christian right personnel and policy priorities. And she left no doubt that the multiple roles she plays — presidential personal pastor, White House employee and defender of Trump against his enemies — have merged into a single message of God’s wrath against anyone who dares criticize him. “Any persons, entities, that are aligned against the president,” she said on the One Voice Prayer Movement launch call, “will be exposed and dealt with and overturned by the superior blood of Jesus.”

These people are buggier than an ant farm, in other words. Reason and the fact that they are driving young folks away from Christianity doesn’t deter them.