I recently wrote a piece for The Bulwark titled “How Franklin Graham Is Perverting His Father’s Legacy.”
The column focused on Graham’s call to deem June 2, 2019 as a day of prayer for President Donald Trump.
More specifically, it focused on how Graham has taken the good will earned through his father, the late evangelist Billy Graham’s work, and is using it to ingratiate himself with the Trump administration.
Reverend Graham, in his long and storied ministry, did not openly endorse or condemn any president. Instead, he held court with, prayed for, and blessed many administrations, with no thoughts to partisanship.
Did he have political beliefs?
I’m sure he did. That would be natural. Whatever they were, however, it didn’t stop him from being “America’s pastor.” He kept the main thing the main thing – that is, he was about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in being a good witness of that message, for all people, regardless of their background and with no partisan intent.
His son, Franklin Graham, unfortunately, so desperately wants to be court jester in service to a corrupt, adulterous con man and his family, that he’s throwing all in for Trump, openly, and with no regards for how it tarnishes the family name.
The June 2 day of prayer Graham requested of the American evangelical community was not set up as prayer for Trump’s redemption, or even that he lead with wisdom and justice.
It was a prayer against his “enemies” – those who would oppose Trump, such as Democrats or the random citizen feeling pain because of the ill-advised tariffs.
In other words, Franklin Graham has neither the time nor inclination to pray for a nation that exists in unity. He wants political enemies conquered and brought low before the king.
And when I say “the king,” I’m not talking about the King of Glory. I’m talking about the worldly, would-be despot, Donald Trump.
Franklin Graham, and unfortunately, far too many so-called evangelical leaders preach Jesus on Sunday, but from Monday to Saturday, they crave to be subjugated. They long to see a powerful, worldly leader crushing his political enemies and opposition beneath his feet.
Amazingly enough, I don’t even think they understand what they’re doing, when they so openly advocate a worldly fix for spiritual problems. If they did, they wouldn’t risk alienating so many who need to hear a positive message of hope.
These pastors would risk their reputations and their ministry by promoting a divisive figure from the pulpit, rather than keeping the house of God spiritually pure.
I believe there’s a real problem with people who lack spiritual discernment in this current age. They’re unsure of their own ability to study the Word of God, take good counsel, fellowship with other believers, and grow in the life of a Christian.
It’s an ongoing process, actually. None of us are going to get it right, all of the time, but I will say that if you see what men like Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, Jerry Falwell Jr, et al. are doing in service to a serial adulterer, liar, and bully, and you’re not troubled, then you’ve developed a callous over your spirit and need some altar time.
Graham and his ilk have created this mythical Donald Trump and pushed it out to the evangelical world.
And by “myth,” I mean they’re lying to everyone for the sake of partisan politics.
Fresh off the heels of successfully conning American churches to ruin the sanctity of Sunday worship earlier this month, Graham doubled down on the myth-crafting.
In a recent interview, he decided to put the age of Trump at the feet of God.
“I think God was behind the last election,” Graham told conservative news site The Western Journal.
The outspoken Trump supporter praised the president in an interview, bragging that the president has accomplished a lot “without a fully supportive Republican majority.”
“He, of course, has been able to do it with the relentless attacks of the Democrats,” Graham continued. “He may go down in history as one of the best presidents we’ve had.”
Did God appoint Trump?
Did he appoint Obama?
God will allow people to make the right decisions, or the wrong decisions. He’s given us His Word, in hopes our decisions are tempered by study and obedience.
We don’t look for worldly fixes to spiritual problems. God has often allowed for corrupt or wicked kings to gain rule, in order to rebuke a nation in rebellion against Him.
As for Trump being one of the best presidents we’ve had, there are not enough face palms in the world to adequately express how off Graham is in this assessment.
Tariffs that tax the American people, diminished respect on the world stage, as he pushes away long cherished alliances and embraces tyrants and foreign adversaries, a national debt that has ballooned out of control, as he spends more time golfing and tweeting than actually working – these are not the mark of a great leader.
I haven’t gotten into the daily lies and the embarrassment of having a president so intellectually diminished, incapable of grasping even the most basic tenets of policy.
None of that matters. According to Franklin Graham, President Trump is a true friend to the Christian community.
“I think he has honored his commitments to the faith-based community,” Graham told the outlet. “He is pro-life, [the] first president really in my lifetime that has been this vocal about life. I certainly appreciate that about him.”
So his signing off on funding for Planned Parenthood in multiple bills is what, exactly?
As for how vocal he is, I really have to wonder how long Graham has been following politics. While few presidents have had the guts to really take on the abortion issue (including Trump), he’s hardly the first to grapple with it.
Ronald Reagan signed the Mexico City Policy in 1984, blocking federal funds from going to foreign nations for the purpose of promoting abortion, either through counseling or referrals.
The policy has been rescinded when Democrats enter office, but the normal pattern is that Republican administrations quickly reinstate it.
Reagan was also responsible for one of the most spot-on assessments of the abortion issue, quipping, “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”
President George W. Bush got right on the front lines with pro-life advocates, lending his voice to their prayers, expressing hope for the end of abortion in our time.
Graham also noted that Trump kept his campaign promise to appoint conservative judges. “He’s put two Supreme Court justices so far on the bench that are conservative. He’s appointed a number at lower courts. I hope that he’ll be able to do even more in that area, because that will have an impact on my childrens’ lives. If we have the right judges, it will benefit all of us.”
Of the two SCOTUS judges, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, there have been mixed results. They haven’t brought the conservative renaissance to the courtroom that Trump’s supporters had hoped.
“I think if Christians pray, pray for the president and pray for his administration, I think God will honor their prayers,” Graham told the outlet.
We should pray for our leaders. That much has never been in dispute.
That being said, Graham never used his father’s name to promote prayer for President Obama. I don’t think he did it for Presidents George W. Bush or Bill Clinton, either.
In fact, he attacked Clinton’s adulteries, but brushes off criticism of Trump’s multiple affairs.
Graham’s principles are situational, at best, hinged on his politics, and that is no way to save the world.