Defending Franklin Graham by smearing his father

Back in May, I asked “Is Billy Graham being exploited for political gain?

Following that post — and then again following my post earlier this week, “Billy Graham did not go to Chick-fil-A (and he didn’t tell you to go there either)” —  a few people wrote comments or emails “defending” Billy Graham.

If the “real” Billy Graham is nothing like his public persona over the years, then maybe he secretly hated Johnny Cash.

“Defending” is in scare quotes there, because they offer a very odd “defense.”

They insist that I am in no position to think I may know anything about what Billy Graham is really like because I am only able to view his decades of public statements, his books, sermons and articles, and his remarks in dozens of interviews over many years.

Based on only that, they insist, one cannot claim to have any idea who Graham really is or what he really thinks about anything. The real Billy Graham, they say, can be known only by those personally acquainted with him who are thus privy to the vast difference between his private views and character and the views and character he has pretended to have all these many years.

We’re dupes, you see, the rest of us. Billy Graham has had us all fooled by pretending to be one person while “really” maintaining an altogether different identity and perspective we cannot begin to guess at because we’re not included in the inner circle of people who are able to know his true views.

This argument strikes me not as a “defense” of Billy Graham, but as a rather nasty accusation of duplicity and hypocrisy. It’s not a defense of Billy Graham at all, but a defense of Franklin Graham.

And if Franklin Graham welcomes such a defense at the expense of his father, well, that further confirms my suspicion that he has been cruelly exploiting his ailing dad.

Which is why I’ve taken to referring to him as “Hophni Phineas Graham.”

The allusion there is to the story of the righteous priest, Eli, in the book of 1 Samuel. Hophni and Phineas were his sons:

Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord or for the duties of the priests to the people.

They were charlatans and offering-skimmers. They are also, in evangelical circles, proverbially infamous — cited in many a sermon on “the family” as examples of how even a righteous person can wind up with a rotten kid.

Their story, by the way, did not end well.

I believe the nickname is apt.


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  • “Good wombs have borne bad sons” – The Tempest, although honestly I got it from the song “The Kinslayer” by Nightwish. 

  • Lori

    I’m not trying to smear Billy Graham and I’m certainly not defending Franklin Graham, who is an asshat of the first order. That said, one of the public statements by Billy Graham that has to be considered in judging this situation is placing Franklin in charge of BGEA. AFAIK there is no suggestion that Billy was in any way non compos mentis when he made that decision and Franklin had certainly made his asshatedness perfectly clear by then.

    I suspect that Franklin’s elevation was due to Billy wanting to believe the best about his son and placing a higher premium on giving him a leg up than on protecting his own legacy. I can understand that, at least on some level, but it does cast a certain light on Billy’s legacy. If he was willing to risk having decades of personal capital basically set on fire by his jerk of  a son then he valued his son more than he valued the principles that he defended for decades. Billy probably didn’t think of it that way, but it’s still true. He certainly wouldn’t be the first person to err on the side of giving his spawn way too much credit only to have disaster ensue.

    None of  which changes the fact that if Franklin is sock puppeting his ill, aged father for personal gain he’s truly a vile excuse for a human being  who should be ashamed of himself and decent people should shun him until he repents.

  • ConservativeWhitebread

    Franklin Graham = troll?

  • Lori

    I could have phrased that better, but if you’ve looked at some of the things Franklin has said he really is kind of a troll.

  • Turcano

    The same thing that happened to Eli ended up happening to his successor Samuel as well:

    But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.  So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

  • michael mcshea

    I cannot think of a single successful TV evangelist of the past few decades that has spawned a decent carbon copy or clone fit to inherit the family business.  Every time I see Franklin airlifting rice to natural disaster hot spots, two things come to mind.  How much did he pay for the rice from his crony network and how many worms, maggots (free protein), are in the mix and or bagged product?  And for the life of me I don’t recall him airlifting anything to the victims of Hurricane Katrina considered all the money he spends on the publicity of his “good” works.

  • …and don’t forget all those chicken sandwiches and chicken nuggets and waffle fries that were bought last Wednesday helped fund Bryan Fischer’s ability to continue to spew of such hateful bile.

  • Rowen

     The thing is, I’ve seen that happen with SO many family owned businesses, though, that I think it’s one of those weird human things, where we want to keep it in the family and sort of assume that our children will inherit our passions and things. Possibly even “Well, I was JUST as bad as s/he was when I was ‘young’ and then found the light.”*

    I used to work for a very famous dance shoe making company. The man who founded the company was a shoemaker who worked with famous dancers and had a passion and drive for the art and technique of making shoes for dancers. However, it was still a family run business and was now run by his grandson, whom I’m pretty sure has never taken a dance class in his life and rarely speaks to dancers. He’s surrounded himself with his family members who do nothing but cheat on their spouses and bicker at each other, and this  . . . nonsense has continued down the corporate chain until the product their selling is a sub-par but widely distributed POS that only gets sold because of name recognition.**

    So, um, yeah. . . It’s not just Billy Graham, though it is unfortunate.

    *See also Brian Herbert for sons who’ve gone on to take over their father’s legacy and completely destroy it.

    **I’m not bitter or anything.

  • ConservativeWhitebread


    Okay clearly the next step is reversing the evil gay brainwashing.  And then kidnapping the nonchristianist kids.

  • michael mcshea

    Reminds me of the myth of the Kennedy dynasty whereby the bootlegger’s money pushed the sons into mainstream legitimacy for a one generation fluke kind of thing. The grand kids of Banker/Gangster Joe Sr. are all like warmed over yesterday’s toast. 

  • Rowen

     And now Taylor Swift is dating one of the great grandsons. . .

  • LoneWolf343

    Hopefully, this ends in jail.

  • LoneWolf343

     It’s getting to the point that one could get away with killing these people with a credible case for self-defense.

  • DashRendar1128

    Every time I think they can’t get any worse.

  • AnonymousSam

    In other Graham news today, Senator
    Lindsey Graham
    thinks defense contractors should fire their employees in preparation for the elections in order to encourage them to vote Republican.

  • Lori

    That is so appalling and depressing I can’t even.

    I offer a tiny ray of sunshine to counter it:

  • LoneWolf343

     Sometimes, I don’t think it will end until they are openly murdering gay men in the street, and their legal defenses is “He wasn’t a person! He was gay!”

    It would be a bloody end for their kind, but at it would be an end at last.

  • El Durazno de la Muerte
  • I honestly think Bryan Fischer is a flesh & blood troll.  Probably at bottom sincere in being a White Christian Male supremacist,  but also taking great pleasure in dropping knowingly absurd ‘provocations’ and then looking forward to upping his own ante tomorrow.   

  • PJ Evans

     I think that would backfire on them. Does he really think that the employees wouldn’t be aware of this?

  • AnonymousSam

    Oh, he’s out and out proud of the idea. So are John McCain and Kelly Ayotte, enough that they’re traveling around the country, making speeches about doing just this.

    Here’s the part that ought to make you throw up:

    They signaled they would break with other Republicans and would accept closing loopholes in the tax code in return for concessions from Democrats, including cuts to entitlement programs.

    “We shouldn’t put our troops in this position,” Ayotte said. “We shouldn’t put our military feeling like they have the sword of Damocles hanging over their head.”

    So… the military (but really, just the weapons manufacturers) is really, really important.

    Taking care of seniors is not.
    Taking care of the sick is not.
    Taking care of the poor is not.

    But making stuff that blows up and kills people? More than life itself, and they’re willing to show this by taking a 2% cut to their yearly profits.

    Such generous people.

  • Lori

     I’m equal parts impressed by and terrified for those people. I’m not entirely sure which side of the brave/reckless line you’re one when you throw a Pride event in a country that keeps trying to make it legal to execute people for being gay.

    This story warms the cockles of my heart pretty much without reservation though:

    Every penny the supporters of Prop 8 have to pay in fines is richly deserved and it’s also a penny the can’t spend on some other horrible, bigoted BS.

  • PJ Evans

     They don’t think taking care of veterans – or even people in the services right now – is important either. (All you have to do is listen to veterans telling about the trouble they have getting any kind of help.)

  • Baby_Raptor

    My fiance and I were discussing wanting kids at some point in the next couple years when I read that. 

    The conversation went from “Okay, we want a girl. And if the first is a boy, we’re only trying once more.” to “Well, we’re not marrying, you’re not straight, neither of us are True Christians…they’d be after our kids next.” 

  • Matri

    The Third Reich, resurrected.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    “We shouldn’t put our troops in this position,” Ayotte said. “We shouldn’t put our military feeling like they have the sword of Damocles hanging over their head.”

    Apparently, the proper way to do this is… for contractors to threaten to fire their employees if Obama is reelected.  Uh huh.