(CNN) – An important Christian magazine founded by the late evangelist Billy Graham, father of Franklin Graham, an important presidential supporter, published an opinion piece on Thursday calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump and urging evangelicals not to support him .
"If President Trump must be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote in the next election, it is a matter of prudential judgment," Christianity Today (CT) editor-in-chief Mark Galli wrote in the opinion article. "We believe that dismissing it is not a matter of partisan loyalty, but of loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments."
Galli continued: “We believe that the political trial hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way that Mueller's investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The political trial hearings have illuminated the moral deficiencies of the president for all to see. ”
"None of the positive aspects of the president can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such rude immoral character," he added.
The influential publication among evangelicals has previously criticized Trump for immigration and other issues, but he has never asked for his removal before. The opinion piece shows a possible reasoning for dissent between a key faction of the Republican coalition while Trump prepares for a political trial in the Senate after it was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday night.
"To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump despite his blackened moral record, we could say this: remember who they are and who they serve," Galli wrote. “Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences his testimony before his Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to ignore Mr. Trump's words and immoral behavior in the cause of political expediency. ”
The magazine's web servers were overwhelmed by web traffic when the editorial came out Thursday afternoon. After some temporary setbacks, the service was restored.
Jim Wallis, one of the nation’s most prominent liberal evangelical leaders, called the opinion article stance a “great decisive event,” adding that the magazine is possibly the nation’s leading evangelical magazine.
"What CT says in its editorial is that removing Donald Trump from office is now a matter of faith, not politics, and I agree," Wallis told CNN.
Wallis, founder of Sojourners magazine, says that evangelicals made a "fabulous" deal with Trump: designate the federal judges we want and we will look the other way.
"They have made the faustical deal that no matter what he does, everything is acceptable because he gives them the judges he wants," says Wallis, author of "Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus."
As for the impact of the announcement, Wallis says it can affect two groups of evangelicals more: white suburban women and younger evangelicals who are already fed up with Trump's embrace by older evangelicals.
"I bet there are many younger evangelicals who are very excited," Wallis said of the editorial.
Wallis says there are now cracks in the evangelical support wall for Trump. The call for impeachment may not influence most evangelicals, but enough to make a difference in the 2020 elections.
"It doesn't take much to change the race, only a few votes in key places in key states could make a difference," Wallis said.
Brian Stelter of CNN contributed to this report.