One of the nation's top Christian magazine publications called for the removal of President Trump on Thursday, one day after the House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment against him.
In an editorial titled "Trump Should Be Removed From Office," (Christianity Today) editor-in-chief Mark Galli invoked the mission of the magazine's founder, Billy Graham, to "help evangelical Christians interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith."
"We want (Christianity Today) to be a place that welcomes Christians from across the political spectrum, and reminds everyone that politics is not the end and purpose of our being," Galli wrote. "That said, we do feel it necessary from time to time to make our own opinions on political matters clear—always, as Graham encouraged us, doing so with both conviction and love. We love and pray for our president, as we love and pray for leaders (as well as ordinary citizens) on both sides of the political aisle."
Galli acknowledged that Democrats "have had it out for [Trump] from day one" and that the president "did not have a serious opportunity to offer his side of the story" during the impeachment process.
However, "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," Galli said.
He explained, "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."
Democrats said Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter in that country, withholding aid for a time as part of a "quid-pro-quo." Trump and the White House repeatedly have denied doing anything wrong.
Galli recalled a (Christianity Today) piece written in 1998 during then-President Clinton's impeachment, reading, "Unsavory dealings and immoral acts by the president and those close to him have rendered this administration morally unable to lead."
"Unfortunately, the words that we applied to Mr. Clinton 20 years ago apply almost perfectly to our current president," Galli continued. "Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments."
The Christianity Today editor-in-chief urged his readers to remind themselves "you are and whom you serve," warning them by asking "will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come" if they don't "reverse course" with their support of Trump.
"We have reserved judgment on Mr. Trump for years now. Some have criticized us for our reserve... 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," Galli wrote. "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. And it will come crashing down on a nation of men and women whose welfare is also our concern."
Protesters have been cleared from a park by tear gas, moments before US President Donald Trump marched through to a Washington DC church.
The forced removable of demonstrators from Lafayette Park, allowed Donald Trump to stage a walk to St John's Church following an address at the White House.
Moments before Mr Trump's address, US Secret Service agents, Park Police and National Guardsmen suddenly marched forward, directly confronting the protesters as many held up their hands, saying, "don’t shoot".
Law-enforcement officers then aggressively forced the protesters back, firing tear gas and deploying flash bangs into the crowd to disperse them from the park for seemingly no reason.
The park was cleared for the President, who walked through it minutes later to the church, for a photo opportunity in which he posed with a Bible.
Mr Trump, standing alone in front of cameras, raised the black-covered Bible for reporters to see.
"We have a great country," Mr Trump said. "Greatest country in the world."
Religious leaders slam Trump's 'lack of compassion'
The Right Reverend Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, to which St John’s belongs, said she was "outraged" by the moment and noted that Mr Trump didn't pray during his visit.
"He took the symbols sacred to our tradition and stood in front of a house of prayer in full expectation that it would be a celebratory moment," Rev Budde told The Associated Press.
"There was nothing I could do but speak out against that."
Rev Budde said the church was "just completely caught off-guard" by the visit, with "no sense that this was a sacred space to be used for sacred purposes".
In order to facilitate Mr Trump's statement there, she said, she believed tear gas was used in the area between the White House and the church.
Rabbi Jack Moline, the president of Interfaith Alliance, slammed the fact peaceful protesters near the White House were gassed and shot with rubber bullets so Mr Trump could hold his photo opportunity.
"Seeing President Trump stand in front of St John’s Episcopal Church while holding a Bible in response to calls for racial justice — right after using military force to clear peaceful protesters out of the area — is one of the most flagrant misuses of religion I have ever seen," Rabbi Moline said in a statement.
"This only underscores the President's complete lack of compassion for Black Americans and the lethal consequences of racism."
Biden, Pelosi, call clearing of Lafayette Park a disgrace
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden accused the President of "using the American military against the American people".
"He tear-gassed peaceful protesters and fired rubber bullets. For a photo," he tweeted.
Meanwhile. US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said the actions against protesters were a dishonor to "every value that faith teaches us".
Officers withdrawn from Washington DC
Police officers from Arlington, Virginia, which borders Washington DC, have been withdrawn from the national capital.
In a statement released to media on Monday night local time, administrators and the police chief ordered their officers to cross the Potomac River and return to Arlington.
An arrangement between Arlington and Washington DC, allowed the Virgina-based officers to police the city, however the safety concerns led to the withdrawal.
"At the direction of the County Board, County Manager and Police Chief, all ACPD officers left the District of Columbia at 8:30 tonight," the statement read.
"The County is re-evaluating the agreements that allowed our officers to be put in a compromising position that endangered their health and safety, and that of the people around them, for a purpose not worthy of our mutual aid obligations."