Franklin Graham’s fire-sale at Montreat

The tributes and retrospectives began more than two decades ago, when the Rev. Billy Graham was still in his 70s.

I’ve read dozens of such pieces over the years, including interview after interview with the prominent evangelist, who was the standard-bearer for his generation of white American evangelicals. The questions in those interviews were mostly all the same, and so were Graham’s answers.

“Looking back,” the 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.

Franklin Graham has never earned the respect and influence enjoyed by his father, the Rev. Billy Graham, so he’s determined to exploit his father’s name to become a political player.

The former regret was a sin of omission. Graham — unlike most white Southern ministers of his generation — had not opposed the Civil Rights movement. He had upset some of those clergy with integrated audiences at some of his evangelistic “crusades” (a term that ought to have been a third regret for Graham). But he was mostly cautious and tepid in his support for integration, particularly in contrast to, say, the prophetic witness of someone like Frank Gabelein.

Graham’s Christianity Today magazine sent Gabelein to report on the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. He was sent there to be, like Graham and the magazine itself, an impartial observer on the sidelines. But when Gabelein saw what was going on, he left the sidelines and joined the march. Graham stayed on the sidelines, and looking back from the vantage point of the 1990s and the early 21st century, he regretted that.

Billy 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 annointed.

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.

Bullshit.

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.”

It seems all too clear that Franklin Graham is exploiting his father’s reputation and legacy in an effort to leverage his own career — not as an evangelist, but as a “player” in the partisan power politics of the religious right, something his father always avoided. Billy Graham believed that involving himself in the work of the religious right would harm his efforts to spread the gospel, and would tarnish his legacy as a servant of God.

Franklin Graham does not care about his father’s legacy, except insofar as it is useful to him. And he does not share his father’s notion that the spread of the gospel is more important than Republican electoral victory.

As Jeff Dunn writes at Internet Monk:

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is buying ads in major newspapers encouraging voters to cast votes for those candidates that support “biblical values.” I don’t recall Billy Graham ever doing this before. Does anyone else get the idea Franklin Graham and Larry Ross are running the show now with no input from the patriarch? I wonder if he even knows this is going on.

I doubt he does. But we know this is going on. And it’s disgraceful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    Disgraceful if true, which does seem to most likely be the case. I’m honestly not sure if I’d prefered this be true or the opposite, though (Being that the 93-year-old man again has turned to the ‘politician’s’ path)

  • histrogeek

    Not to put Graham in the camp of civil rights supporters like Gabelein, but he did occasionally advise Dr. King on the practical matters of running a multi-media ministry (at least according to Taylor Branch). That was in the late 50s and early 60s when most white evangelical ministers believed the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King were stalking horses for Stalinism and whatever other badness you can imagine. I can see why he would regret not doing more though, given his reputation and resources at the time.
    Franklin Graham though, he can piss up a rope. Like we need another Fawell or Robertson. (shudder)

  • Zerohero38

    Franklin Graham is a self-serving asshole!!

  • Lfrlegal

    I’m glad I read this article, because I was disappointed to learn of BG’s support for Romney. But what about the video clip showing the old guy endorsing him?

  • thatotherjean

    It’s a shame that Franklin Graham, in trying to use his father’s status and reputation to elevate his own, is only destroying them both.   Billy Graham is very far from perfect, but he’s a wiser and better man than his son will ever be.

  • Lori

    If, as seems likely, the ads were Franklin’s idea and not Billy’s then old Frank may have cooked his own goose this time. When you’ve previously referred to the LDS as a cult and then you (supposedly) come out in support of voting for the Mormon it raises more than a few questions.

    And when will people ever learn how the internet works and that purging a website is not a solution?

    http://www.alternet.org/speakeasy/brucewilson/billy-graham-website-down-mormonism-cult-scandal-widens

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    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 annointed.

    Didn’t stop the Bush family from casually calling up old Billy and putting him on speakerphone to settle a family religion debate.

    Billy seems to have been quite happy to parlay his success into quiet access and hobnobbing with the wealthy and powerful.

  • bearzee

    Billy paid MLK’s bail out of thew Birmingham Jail.  The “religious right” leaders have all called Billy Graham the Anti-Christ at one point or the other, for reasons ranging from his civil rights support, to associating with Catholics and other non-Baptists, to ministering to Democratic presidents.  When Billy dies, Franklin wants to invite these same name-callers to his funeral.  Franklin, like Mitt Romney, has forgotten the face of his father.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    The term “elder abuse” comes to mind.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    My argument is simply that Graham has too far trusted alpha males during his life (Nixon, Reagan, Clinton being prime examples). And now the closest alpha (though hack) near him at his most vulnerable state? The guy he should’ve let go of a long time ago – his son.

    That’s my take, at least.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.steckly Daniel L Steckly

    I supremely doubt that there is any possibility beyond “Franklin is lying”. Even if it turns out Billy Graham really said the things Franklin is claiming, given what we know, the logical reasoning is that  there’s no way Billy’s lucid enough to understand it. The biggest problem with this theory is that if Billy Graham could be coaxed into saying these things, you can bet your ass Franklin would have done that in front of a camera by now.

  • Victor

    http://www.alternet.org/speake

    For those who may still care at this time about what me, myself and i think when I say that those without sin should cast the first stone, butt cells,  I see that “IT” has already begun so “I”M” too late.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmVAWKfJ4Go 

    Sinner vic you lied to U>S (usual sinners) cause Fred does not really have a Chapel on this blog where you can pray.  

    ((( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/10/19/nra-killer-pacifists/#disqus_thread
    “IT” is simple Victor! The prayer is called “The Slacktivist Chapel let” and goes something like this. You start off by saying “ONE” “Left Behind” prayer” and then followed by Three “Smart People saying Smart Things and then “ONE” Sunday’s Favorites”. As a Christian Catholic might, You start over and say ten more verses of “Smart People saying Smart Things followered by “ONE” Sunday’s Favorites” and then annoy a few new topics like “Chickfil -A Biblical Family of the day for the month and long story short you repeat these steps another four more time and there you have “IT”, “The Slacktivist Chapel let Prayer.

    This could drive any old good Christian to do silly things that he would not normally do. Take heart my good friends. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYVB0JXlmEY

    Peace

  • Azraelmacool

    I’m sorta new here… Is this a bot or something? Some of Victor’s posts sorta make some kind of rambling sense, but this is just… What?

  • Amaryllis

     Victor’s not always easy to follow, but I can’t help enjoying the Slacktivist Rosary.

    So let’s take heart.

  • Keulan

    Honestly, I’m never sure what Victor’s trying to say. There’s too much incoherent rambling in his posts for me to puzzle out anything that might make sense.

  • SisterCoyote

     He’s mentioned before, in his usual tone, things like ‘bipolar’ and such. (I try to avoid internet-psychoanalyzing, but the way he goes back and forth between “Sinner Vic” and “Victor,” I’ve wondered about other things.) Sometimes his posts are readable, sometimes they’re just too incoherent, but he’s definitely not a bot…

    And the Slacktivist Rosary is kind of awesome.

  • Victor

    (((And the Slacktivist Rosary is kind of awesome.)))

    Thanks for the honesty Sister,

    All I can say to Keulan,  Azraelmacool and others who won’t even try to understand me is that we can’t please everyone no matter how hard we try.   NOW! I at least understand why ……never mind….lol… :)

    Peace              

  • PandaRosa

    You’ve noticed Victor/Sinner vic, too. He also leaves more than a few comments on the splendoroftruth.com site, and two other Catholic ones. Odd fellow.
    The one most missed is the savage atheist Salvage, that guy could start no end of flame wars.
    Shame about Billy’s son Franklin, Billy Graham was one of the very few prominent Protestant clergymen whose record was actually clean.

  • Victor

    (((You’ve noticed Victor/Sinner vic, too. He also leaves more than a few comments on the splendoroftruth.com site, and two other Catholic ones.)))OH! Why don’t ya just fuck off Panda Rosa, I mean PandaRosa http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/2012/10/the-popes-new-butler/#comments
    Hey don’t be like that sinner vic cause that’s not very nice to say!
    You fuck off too Victor cause you’re nothing but a fucking pussy but before ya go give me back my heart, I mean art? Hey don’t be like that sinner vic cause that’s not very nice to say!
    You fuck off too Victor cause you’re nothing but a fucking pussy but before ya go give me back my heart, I mean art? http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=18142394&postID=802972811854045401
    Don’t be like that sinner vic cause ya know that deep down inside you really do have a heart and I apologize if I said that you were just a ficment of my imagination. “IT” is just that salvage can get to any Christians and the only way he, she and/or “IT” can be stopped is with prayers so why don’t ya come into my little Chapel and we can pray.
    Fuck you Victor! If I want to pray, I’m going to Don’t be like that sinner vic cause ya know that deep down inside you really do have a heart and I apologize if I said that you were just a ficment of my imagination. “IT” is just that salvage can get to any Christians and the only way he, she and/or “IT” can be stopped is with prayers so why don’t ya come into my little Chapel and we can pray.
    Fuck you Victor! If I want to pray, I’m going to do the Slacktivist Rosary which is kind of awesome here so fuck off why don’t ya and leave me alone!
    OH! Great! Using those words make ya feel really Manly doesn’t “IT” sinner vic?
    Fuck ya Victor and that goes for vs also cause “I AM WHO I AM” and “I’M” getting pretty tired of humaring you human. Now “I” understand why,,,,never mind….(lol) What! What? Nice try you fucking ASSHOLE but “IT” ain’t going to work this time cause “I” know why your so called “Jesus” of over 2012 years ago told humans that unless they hated their “Mother” “Father” “Sons” “Daughter” ect…ect….they could not be His Followers and Now we have other Peters, ok have the penis your way butt please close your mouth NOW! You’re “Him bear ass singing” U>S (usual sinners)
    LISTEN sinner vic! “i’m” NOT GOING TO STAND YOU TALKING TO ME THAT WAY!
    Ya way! then sit down cause “I’M” almost finish NOW!
    Listen Victor! I own this world and weather, I mean, whether you give me your heart or not, I still own enough art in this world to take “IT” over and “I’M” going to show ya in the year 2013 and if you’re feeling Young and to be Fair with ya cause I think that Eve will be gone for a long long time so ya can take that to Wall  OH! Great! Using those words make ya feel really Manly doesn’t “IT” sinner vic?
    Fuck ya Victor and that goes for vs also cause “I AM WHO I AM” and “I’M” getting pretty tired of humaring you human. Now “I” understand why,,,,never mind….(lol) What! What? Nice try you fucking ASSHOLE but “IT” ain’t going to work this time cause “I” know why your so called “Jesus” of over 2012 years ago told humans that unless they hated their “Mother” “Father” “Sons” “Daughter” ect…ect….they could not be His Followers and Now we have other Peters, ok have the penis your way butt please close your mouth NOW! You’re “Him bear ass singing” U>S (usual sinners)
    LISTEN sinner vic! “i’m” NOT GOING TO STAND YOU TALKING TO ME THAT WAY!
    Ya way! then sit down cause “I’M” almost finish NOW!
    Listen Victor! I own this world and weather, I mean, whether you give me your heart or not, I still own enough art in this world to take “IT” over and “I’M” going to show ya in the year 2013 and if you’re feeling Young and to be Fair with ya cause I think that Eve will be gone for a long long time so ya can take that to Wall  http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=you+tube+music+Hello+walls+Feron+young&docid=4850595103834184&mid=150E897FD3D7FE9F0376150E897FD3D7FE9F0376&view=detail&FORM=VIRE3 Street with ya if ya know what “I” mean?
     
    VICTOR! VICTOR! VICTOR! STOP TRYING TO SCARE ME AND CAREFUL WHAT YA WISH FOR! :)
     
    VICTOR! VICTOR! VICTOR! STOP TRYING TO SCARE ME AND CAREFUL WHAT YA WISH FOR! :)
    http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=You+tube+music+I+wish+I+was+a+teddy+bear&view=detail&mid=953472932822BCF9CEB2953472932822BCF9CEB2&first=0&qpvt=You+tube+music+I+wish+I+was+a+teddy+bear
    PeacePeace

  • http://twitter.com/parrislane parris lane

    Just
    three days ago Billy Graham took down from his site that Mormonism is a
    CULT. Now what has changed? The MORMONS STILL believe that they can
    be GODS, that GOD is married and has a mistress, that Jesus and Satan
    are brothers, King Solomon was irrelevant because of this Black skin..
    so his chapter “Songs of Solomon and parts of Proverbs ” was remove from
    the Bible. …. I was taught that we are not suppose to add to or
    take away from the Bible.. So please explain ..what changed Rev.
    Graham.. Which GOD will the CHRISTIANS ON THE RIGHT SERVE…. the
    ROMNEY GOD and/or the GOD OF ABRAHAM/ISSAC…. ??????? Could someone
    please answer this question?
     

  • fidesquaerens

    Christianity Today (http://bit.ly/Rqhz6Q) recently ran a piece asking three people whether Billy had actually become more political. The first, a biographer of Billy, said the statements were almost certainly not his and were probably coming from Franklin. The second, an academic historian of religion, said they just represented the BGEA’s viewpoint, but since Franklin’s the BGEA’s current head, that boils down to about the same thing, I think. The third opinion was that the press releases really were Billy’s opinions. That man is identified as Billy Graham’s spokesperson but he actually lists the BGEA as his client on his website. So take that for what it’s worth.

    On Franklin’s motives… I’d be careful to go too far. I’ve met both Franklin + Billy a few times (I worked as a temp at Samaritan’s Purse for a few months, and know other people who work there and at BGEA), and I’ve seen the two men interact. Franklin seems to genuinely love his father, and I’m uncomfortable saying he’d purposefully use Billy’s reputation for his own ends. I may be wrong; I am at best an acquaintance, and even that is pushing it. But based on my observations I’d say it’s more likely Franklin thinks he’s helping his father, by tying him in to a good cause and keeping him from becoming a relic of a past generation. He’d still be wrong, of course, and that doesn’t change the pain he’s caused through these statements. (If this is what he’s doing.) But I’m not sure it’s a malicious move on his part.

  • fidesquaerens

    I wish I knew how to update my profile – since I linked my Disqus account with my WordPress name, it shows fidesquaerens rather than the name I used to have associated with this account. So to avoid any confusion or charges of sockpuppetry: This is Marta Layton.


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