June 3, 2020

Category - Franklin Graham

franklin-graham

As Stephen Prothero, religion professor at Boston University, has concluded, “The qualities of temper and judgment that made Billy Graham so singularly successful are almost entirely lacking in his son, who now imperils his father’s legacy. . . . [He] seems blissfully unaware of the possibility that there might be even the slimmest of gaps between the words that come out of his mouth and the words written down in scripture. . . . Thanks to Franklin Graham and his cronies on the Religious Right, American evangelicalism has now become first and foremost a political rather than a spiritual enterprise.”

Indeed, while evangelical leader Franklin Graham has been a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, his father Rev. Billy Graham issued an unequivocal warning against the hijacking of the Christian faith and message by the far-right, stating “I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form.  It would disturb me if there was a wedding betweeen the religious fundamentalists and the political right.  The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”

“I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.” ~ Billy Graham

Indeed, for many years now, Franklin Graham has twisted the gospel as delivered by Jesus and preserved in the Bible into an endorsement of extreme policies that hurt immigrants, Muslims, the disabled, veterans, those in need of healthcare and the poor.  Thus, far from being a proclamation of the Gospel, Franklin’s events are a thinly-veiled promotion of President Donald Trump’s far-right agenda, which betrays the passionate, singular gospel cause that Billy Graham espoused in more than 400 crusades in 185 countries.

As Baptist preacher Robert Sellers has pointed out, “Billy Graham could also be prophetic on racial issues. As a child of the South, he was slow to integrate his meetings, but by 1953 in Chattanooga, Graham told meeting organizers that there would be no “colored seating section” in the stadium, a bold stance for the evangelist. Then, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, he added African Americans to his staff . . .  and invited Martin Luther King to join him on stage for his 1957 Madison Square Garden Crusade.

In stark contrast, Franklin Graham has misconstrued his role as God’s prophet.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eliza Griswold identifies several of Franlklin’s disturbing utterances, one of which relates to the Black Lives Matter movement.  Countering the public outcry about police violence toward people of color, Franklin authored a strikingly odd open letter that completely missed the mark, stating:  “Listen up — Blacks, Whites, Latinos and everybody else.  Most police shootings can be avoided.  It comes down to respect for authority and obedience.”

Such a statement completely misses the point that regular people and organizations like Black Lives Matter are emphasizing:  that there has long been a steady string of police killings of innocent, unarmed and non-threatening Black people by police in this country, even with perfect respect for and obedience to authority (and even when just driving, sitting in their homes or playing in a park).  Accordingly, Graham’s statement further victimizes the victims and marginalizes the real, life and death issues that quite understandably exist in the Black community in the United States of America today.  This is in stark contrast to the Biblical injunction to “weep with those who weep,” and Isaiah 1:17, which instructs all believers to “Learn to do good.  Seek justice. Correct oppression.”

Often, white people who build White Supremacy and the New Jim Crow do it without even knowing it.  Nevertheless, it is also true that if you feed the ducks, you are a duck feeder.  Accordingly, by supporting the agenda of the far-right while masking it in the cloak of the gospel and its authority, Franklin Graham is one of the primary progenitors of New Jim Crow Theology in America today.