I’ve read a lot about the political involvement of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Over the years Graham has played only a minor role in politics. He has even expressed remorse about the times he became overly involved (for instance supporting Richard Nixon before he went to jail). Graham was sort of a church elder who was available to speak to power, no matter the ideology of the power-broker. His independence gave his words power, and his power words that were trust as Christian, not political.
In this election, however, BGEA has been spending a lot of money in support of Republican Candidates through thinly veiled ads. They scrubbed their website from any references to Mormonism as a cult. It’s a troubling trend, and signals a shift that seems odd this late in Graham’s career. It feels like Franklin Graham is trading on his father’s name and credibility to get down and dirty with politics.
Here are some recent articles on the matter. What is interesting is that nobody writing wants to tear down Billy Graham. Everyone speaks of him with respect. There is deep suspicion, however, thatFranklinis making these moves without his father even knowing about it. I really hope this isn’t true, but it’s sort of what this feels like.
- CNN article by Roland Martin
- And Alternet Article about the BGEA website going offline
- Fred Clark’s first article
- Fred Clark’s most recent article
- Article in LA Times on BGEA’s add supporting Romney
- Another from the Charlotte Observer
Here’s an excerpt one of the most vivid pictures from Fred Clark at Patheos. I really hope this isn’t true, but my gut tells me that it is.
“Interviewers would ask, “do you have any regrets?” And Graham consistently mentioned two. The great evangelist repeatedly said that he wished he had been more outspoken in support of civil rights, and that he should never have allowed himself to get sucked into trying to be a partisan political power-broker.
The former regret was a sin of omission. Graham — unlike most white Southern ministers of his generation — had not opposed the Civil Rights movement… Graham’s other regret — his attempt to be a political kingmaker — was a sin of commission, and thus this regret was much more acute. He has spoken many times with genuine horror and remorse over the way he was seduced into partisan support for President Richard Nixon, expressing deep shame for the taped conversation in which he joined Nixon’s anti-Semitic rant against a supposed Jewish “stranglehold” on the media.
Graham has apologized for that lapse in judgment, and he has demonstrated the sincerity of that apology over the years that followed by never again allowing himself to be used as a political tool for one candidate’s partisan agenda, never again inserting himself into electoral politics, never again sanctioning one party and one politician as God’s anointed.
Never again. Until now.
Now, very suddenly, we are being asked to believe that the Rev. Billy Graham, at 93 years old, has completely changed his mind about both of the regrets he has repeatedly lamented over the past 20 years. We are asked to believe that Billy Graham has abruptly changed who he has been for many decades, casting aside everything he has been telling us he learned from his many years in ministry. Now, all of a sudden, we are being asked to believe that what Billy Graham really regrets was that he wasn’t more actively opposed to civil rights, and that he wasn’t more directly involved as a power-player in partisan power-politics…Bull#%*t. No one believes this.
…Back in May, when Billy Graham supposedly first made this 180-turn into becoming a Pat Robertson wanna-be, I asked “Is Billy Graham being exploited for political gain?” citing several others who were raising that same question.
As more baldly partisan statements began appearing in Graham’s name — all without any public appearances by the ailing nonagenarian minister — more and more people began asking that same question, with all fingers pointing back to Graham’s partisan-hack son, Franklin.
Franklin Graham has always seemed to desire the respect and influence his father enjoys, but he has never been able to earn it on his own. Now his father almost never speaks publicly, communicating through press releases from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The BGEA is now led by Franklin Graham, and Billy’s statements from the BGEA all sound like Franklin Graham — like the sort of thing Franklin has always said and Billy has never said.
When a reporter from The New York Times asked Franklin Graham if his father would ever speak publicly to confirm his support for these recent statements released in his name, Franklin replied “That ain’t gonna happen.”