December 31, 2019

My Struggle with Leaders Like Franklin Graham

I have big issues with Evangelical leaders like Mr. Graham. I truly don’t mean to dishonor Mr. Graham and I normally avoid calling out individuals in my blogs. But as Graham is portraying himself as the voice for his father, famed evangelist Billy Graham, in order to demean the people at Christianity Today for taking a bold stand on today’s religious political hypocrisy, I think it’s important to make people aware of some truths of Mr. Graham’s past.

Here is a statement from Mr. Graham in 1998:

"Mr. Clinton, private sins can have public consequences... If [Clinton] will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?”

Graham regarding President Bill Clinton's impeachment

Here’s Franklin Graham in 2010:

“You have to ask him. I cannot answer that question for anybody... You ask every person. He has said he’s a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is.”
Graham's tepid response when asked if he believed President Obama's
profession of the Christian faith

In the same interview Graham enthusiastically confirmed that Republicans Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were Christians. He also affirmed Republican Mitt Romney’s faith even though many evangelical Christians reject the Mormon claim of being a Christian religion. Graham was later confronted on this by a group of African American pastors and apologized for his ambiguous characterization of Obama’s faith declaration.

“...(w)e have to give him the benefit of the doubt."
Graham in 2016 when reporting that then-candidate
Donald Trump had assured him personally that Trump
had not had the affair being widely reported in media.

As we now know, Trump did have an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels and instructed hush money to be given to her. That money was reportedly paid with campaign funds donated by citizens. To date, Mr. Graham has not been publicly critical that Trump lied to him and lied to his wife, nor has Graham spoken out about the use of campaign funds or that Trump’s personally attorney is now in prison for following the orders of the candidate.

"We didn't elect a pastor to office, we elected a commander-in-chief. For Christianity Today to hold him to a high moral standard is ridiculous."
Graham in 2019 in response to the Christianity Today Editorial

With these statements from Mr. Graham’s past, clearly hypocritical in his religious assessment of leaders based squarely upon their political affiliation, I must assume his recent statements about Trump and about Christianity Today are tainted by the clear religious partisanship he’s previously demonstrated and the Evangelical Church has been partnered with for nearly 50 years.

This is the mindset of evangelicalism that I’m pressing against everyday. Public statements like these from evangelical leaders discredit the message of God that the Church is commanded to be sharing with the world. It’s also behavior the Bible clearly condemns in passages such as Jeremiah 23 and Jesus’ warning to “beware the leaven of the Pharisees.”

The biggest problem of it all? This hypocrisy taints our vision of the world and God’s purpose in it. Mr. Graham recently came to my city; uninvited and over the protests of some of our local pastors who felt his visit would be divisive. Graham’s message for us was to tell us our state of California was morally repugnant and, perhaps, beyond saving. I live in California and pray for our state everyday. Never once have I had the impression that God is displeased with our state. The partisanship of our religious politics has caused us to miss what God’s true vision is for a people.

I felt it was important to share these facts and this viewpoint to help people as they consider their response to recent events and discussions. Let those hear who have ears to hear.

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