Sin! Sin! Sin!
President Calvin Coolidge a century ago was famously a man of few words. He went to church one Sunday, and when he came back to the White House his wife asked him what the preacher had talked about.
“Sin,” Coolidge told her. “He said he was a’gin it.”
Under the present circumstances, I wish Coolidge’s preacher were here today. Donald Trump, it is said, has committed all seven of the deadly sins. Yet I have the feeling that in the churches and synagogues and temples of our land, there is hardly a murmur of it. I know that in the Episcopal church I attend, the priest has not said a word about him in the past three years. My wife, who is Catholic, says it is the same in her church too.
More than 127 million Americans go to church on Sundays and believe in God; 22 percent are in church every Sunday. They, and I, believe in right and wrong and recognize the difference between the two. It makes me wonder, therefore, that larger numbers don’t speak up when what Trump does crashes head on with their religious beliefs and their inborn sense of right and wrong.
A few weeks ago a national magazine called Christianity Today with its 2.5 million Evangelical readers took a stand, counted Donald Trump’s sins in broad daylight, and called for his removal from office.
Trump, the magazine pointed out, “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 81 million Evangelicals in America constitute a strong, perhaps the strongest, base supporting him. They point to his Supreme Court confirmations and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support.
But, Christianity Today editorialized, “The impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.
“That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments. Unsavory dealings and immoral acts by the President and those close to him have rendered this administration morally unable to lead.”
And the magazine concluded, “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 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. 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?”