In an editorial in CT (Christianity Today), which was founded by Rev. Billy Graham, the editor Mark Galli argued that Trump should be removed from office because of his conduct. (“Trump Should Be Removed from Office,” December 19). This editorial caused a big stir; even the president responded to it. I have no illusions that anything I say will have the impact of Mr. Galli’s editorial, but I feel that it needs to be said, especially after reading some of the columns in the Queens Jewish Link’s December 26 issue.
Mr. Galli took the position that the president should be impeached. “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.” This is an issue upon which reasonable people can disagree. In any event, what is more significant are his comments to fellow evangelicals.
He reminded them that 20 years ago (October 5, 1998) CT made the following comments about President Clinton: “The president’s failure to tell the truth - even when cornered - rips at the fabric of the nation…And while politicians are notorious for breaking campaign promises, while in office they have a fundamental obligation to uphold our trust in them and to live by the law. Unsavory dealings and immoral acts by the president and those close to him have rendered this administration morally unable to lead.”
Galli then addressed Trump: “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.”
“To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve…Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? 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?”
“To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence. And just when we think it’s time to push all our chips to the center of the table, that’s when the whole game will come crashing down. It will crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel.”
The editorial mentioned Clinton to point out the moral consistency of CT’s being critical of then-President Clinton’s moral failings and now doing the same with President Trump. The implication is that evangelicals who in 1998 complained about Clinton’s immoral conduct are being hypocritical by remaining silent about Trump while still supporting him.
I expect the response from the Trump supporters - that he has done many good things. Galli pointed out that he has heard this from other evangelicals. Although Mr. Galli may not agree, it may be reasonable to take the position that you can support Trump because you like his policies, but at the same time criticize the conduct that Galli and many others find objectionable. The problem is that many in our community are not criticizing Trump for his moral lapses, but instead are lauding him as a role model. For example, a fellow columnist argued that Trump is “standing up for real Jewish values.” She also referred to his supporting “Judeo-Christian values.” The title of the column is “Eight Reasons why Donald Trump is our First Jewish President.” This is not the only column which has decided to politicize Chanukah. It seems to be the theme with some Trumpians to connect Trump to the holiday, which is wrong on so many levels. That is for another time.
Another columnist refers to Congresswoman Rashida Talib as having hatred and a vulgar mouth and Congresswoman Maxine Waters as vicious. In contrast, the columnist minimizes Trump’s hateful comments, vulgar mouth and other amoral conduct by referring to it as being an “unorthodox style and occasional coarseness.”
Mr. Galli does not indicate that Trump supporters are attacking their fellow evangelicals who have a different view. Unfortunately, this is a problem in the Orthodox Jewish community. Certain Trump supporters, at the same time they are giving Trump accolades, single out Jews who are Democrats and have railed against the president. Both above-mentioned QJL columnists were forceful in their denunciations of fellow Jews who disapprove of the president’s conduct. One of the columnists referred to these people as JINOs (Jews in Name Only) while at the same time calling Trump a member of our tribe. This despicable comment demonizes our fellow Jews by attacking their legitimacy as Jews solely because of their political beliefs.
Although we may be a different religion from the evangelicals, the words by Mr. Galli are apropos. Trump will be gone either by the end of 2020 or 2024, but many in the Orthodox Jewish community will have to answer for their blind loyalty to an individual whose moral character is an anathema to everything we stand for.