The Christian magazine that published a blistering editorial calling for President Donald Trump's removal from office over his "blackened moral record" has received a boost in subscribers despite a public backlash among leading evangelicals, according to the publication's editor in chief.
Mark Galli, the editor in chief of Christianity Today who authored the op-ed, acknowledged to MSNBC on Sunday that the magazine has lost subscribers, but he said there has also been an outpouring of support.
"A stereotypical response is 'thank you, thank you, thank you' with a string of a hundred exclamation points — 'you've said what I've been thinking but haven't been able to articulate, I'm not crazy,'" Galli said of the response from supporters. "We have lost subscribers but we've had 3 times as many people start to subscribe."
In the editorial published Thursday, Galli argued that Trump's effort to use his power as president to coerce a foreign leader to investigate Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden "is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral."
Galli called on evangelicals who continue to support Trump "despite his blackened moral record" to "remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior."
Trump's response to the editorial was swift. He slammed Christianity Today as a "far left magazine, or very 'progressive'" on Twitter, saying "no president has done more for the evangelical community." Christianity Today was founded by the late evangelical preacher Billy Graham and called former President Bill Clinton's administration "morally unable to lead" in a piece published in 1998.
Graham's son Franklin Graham, a supporter of Trump, defended the president in a Facebook post. He said his father voted for Trump and "would not agree with Christianity Today's opinion piece."
"In fact, he would be very disappointed," Franklin Graham wrote.
When asked why Trump's support among evangelical Christians remains strong, Galli said many in the community have a "deep and profound attachment to the president," pointing to his support for the pro-life movement, religious liberty overseas and the economy among other reasons.
"Unfortunately some of my brothers and sisters considered him appointed by the Lord and what I would consider extreme language in that regard," Galli told MSNBC, adding that for others, criticism of a sitting president "is bad form."
However, he said a line has been crossed in light of the House impeachment hearings and evangelicals risked damaging the reputation of the church if they don't speak up.
"[...] We're sacrificing a great deal of the good we're called to do and believe in if we don't at least say out loud, in front of God and everybody, that in terms of his public character Donald Trump is a serious problem and no longer fit for office on those moral grounds alone," he said.