Earlier this week, a new poll showed that nearly half of all Americans now support removing Donald Trump from office through the impeachment process. On Thursday, however, one surprising new voice joined the calls for Trump's removal. In an editorial that The Washington Post called "surprising," one of the country's top Christian evangelical magazines published an editorial titled "Trump Should Be Removed from Office."
Christianity Today was founded in 1956 by Billy Graham, who was perhaps the world's best-known Christian evangelical preacher. The magazine rarely takes political stands, but editor Mark Galli wrote that the magazine had condemned President Bill Clinton as "morally unable to lead" 20 years ago.
Those words "apply almost perfectly to our current president," Galli wrote in the editorial. He went on to say that removing Trump from office was not a partisan issue, but a case of "loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments."
The Christianity Today editorial not only criticized the president, but also his supporters in the evangelical movement, imploring them to "consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior."
The editorial was seen as surprising not only because the president enjoys broad support among white Christian evangelicals, but because as The Washington Post noted, the founder's son, Franklin Graham, has been an outspoken Trump backer.
The Washington Post cited exit polls from the 2016 election showing that 80 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump, and a Marist poll taken earlier this month in which 75 percent said that they approved of the president's performance in office. In the same poll, only 42 percent of all Americans gave Trump a favorable approval rating.
Despite the widespread evangelical support for Trump, Christianity Today has published previous articles sharply critical of his character, and of his evangelical backers.
The publication's president, Timothy Dalrymple, published a commentary in July criticizing white evangelicals for their "silence" when Trump has made derogatory public statements directed at people of color.
"I sense a profound frustration among non-white Christian friends" that white evangelicals said nothing when Trump has made statements that have been widely condemned as racist, Dalrymple wrote.
The editorial calling for Trump's removal from office generated a high level of interest among the magazine's online readers, according to Galli. The Christianity Today server briefly crashed on Thursday when 17,000 readers simultaneously accessed the site, which typically may receive only about 400 visitors at any given moment, Galli told The Washington Post.
The Christianity Today editor also said that he was extremely reluctant to write and publish the editorial.
"People are going to say mean, nasty things and say how much they hate me or hate the magazine, and I don't like that," Galli said.