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World News

Trump blasts Christian magazine that called for his removal

Donald Trump has hit back at a prominent Christian magazine that published an editorial arguing that he should be removed from office.

The president tweeted that Christianity Today, an evangelical magazine founded by the late Rev Billy Graham, "would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President".

The magazine's editor-in-chief had published an argument for Mr Trump's removal on Thursday, citing his "blackened moral record".

Mr Trump wrote that the magazine "has been doing poorly and hasn't been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years", and some of his strongest evangelical supporters - including Mr Graham's son - were rallying to his side and against the magazine.

Their pushback underscored the political value of Mr Trump's hold on the evangelical Christian voting bloc that helped propel him into office and suggested the editorial would do little to shake that loyalty.

Rev Franklin Graham, who now leads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and prayed at the president's inauguration, tweeted that his late father would be "disappointed" in the magazine. He added that he "felt it necessary" following the editorial to share that his father, who died last year after counselling several past presidents, had voted for Mr Trump.

Christianity Today "represents what I would call the leftist elite within the evangelical community. They certainly don't represent the Bible-believing segment of the evangelical community", Mr Graham told the Associated Press in an interview.

He wrote on Facebook: "Is President Trump guilty of sin? Of course he is, as were all past presidents and as each one of us are, including myself."

The magazine's circulation is estimated at 130,000. In its editorial, titled "Trump Should Be Removed from Office", editor-in-chief Mark Galli, wrote that Democrats have "had it out for" the president since the start of his term, but added that "the facts ... are unambiguous" when it comes to the acts that led to the president's impeachment this week.

Mr Trump "attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president's political opponents", Mr Galli wrote, referring to Democratic rival and former vice president Joe Biden.

"That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral."

Mr Trump is deeply popular among evangelical Christians, with roughly eight in 10 white evangelical Protestants saying they approve of the way he is handling his job as president, according to a December poll.

Many prominent evangelicals even intensified their support for him as Democrats moved to impeach him - circling the wagons despite Mr Trump's coloured personal history, multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, deeply divisive policies and profanity-laced comments.

At the heart of that stalwart backing is what pro-Trump evangelicals view as the president's significant record of achievement on their highest priorities, such as his successful installation of more than 150 conservative federal judges and his support for anti-abortion policies.

He said in his tweets: "No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it's not even close," and declared that he "won't be reading ET again!" using the wrong initials to describe the Christian publication.

The Christianity Today editorial came the day after Mr Trump became the third president in American history to be impeached.

The House charged him with abuse of power in pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations of Mr Biden, and with obstructing Congress in the ensuing probe.

Mr Galli said the president's characterisation of the magazine as far left was "far from accurate".

But Mr Galli, who is set to retire from his post next month, also said he is realistic about the impact of his words.

"I don't have any imagination that my editorial is going to shift their views on this matter," he said of those who support the president.

"The fact of the matter is Christianity Today is not read by the people, Christians on the far right, by evangelicals on the far right, so they're going to be as dismissive of the magazine as President Trump has shown to be."

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