The United States House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to impeach President Donald John Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. That makes Trump the third president to be impeached by the Congress. It is a defining statement about his leadership and its impact.
Trump has spent his lifetime lying, bullying, discriminating and cheating. He is a known bigot, misogynist and narcissist who was elected to the presidency without any record of military or other public service experience.
Given his well-documented pathological tendencies for dishonesty, deceit and disregard for the rights of others, Trump’s impeachment shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. The question now is whether faithful people have the moral clarity and courage to declare that Trump’s impeachment was warranted and that it stands as judgment on the character of his leadership.
“The Vernon Johns Story,” a 1994 TV movie that featured actor James Earl Jones as the prophetic pastor of Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church (whose tenure was followed by Martin Luther King Jr.), includes an unforgettable scene involving the funeral of a known troublemaker. Johns was forced by the deacons (over his principled objections) to eulogize the deceased man because his parents were generous financial backers of the church.
At the funeral, Johns delivered the following eulogy:
“Macabee lived a trifling and worthless life. He went around Montgomery daring someone to cut his throat. Last Saturday night somebody obliged him. He lived like a dog; he died like a dog. Undertaker, claim the body. Choir, sing.”
“Faith leaders and other faithful people are at a defining moment for our nation and for the gospel witness.”
Like Johns, the House of Representatives rendered judgment on Trump and declared him to be a sociopath when it impeached him. As was the case with Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, the other presidents who were impeached, Trump probably will not be convicted by the Senate and removed from office. But, like Johnson and Clinton, he has been impeached! Under the U.S. Constitution, impeachment cannot be pardoned.
In the judgment of Congress, Trump is not God’s gift to the United States and the world despite what Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress and other diehard white religious nationalist followers believe. These same conservative, white evangelicals voted overwhelmingly to elect Trump and are now working to re-elect him to a second term. Regardless, thanks to Congress, history will view Trump as a corrupt president.
Now the rest of us, and especially faith leaders and other faithful people, are at a defining moment for our nation and for the gospel witness. Will we muster the moral clarity and courage to speak about Trump’s presidency the way Vernon Johns spoke at that funeral? If so, we should declare that Donald Trump is a trifling, toxic and abusive man who has spent the past three years daring anyone to denounce him as a corrupt president. On Dec. 18, the U.S. Congress obliged the president by impeachment.
Undertaker, claim the body. Choir, sing.