Increasingly, Franklin Graham is looking like a fool.
He’s ripped his pants one too many times with members of his own evangelical tribe.
And I, for one, am glad to see his wrongheaded theology repudiated by folks who can’t be dismissed as flaming, mushy liberals.
Riding on his iconic father Billy’s coattails, Franklin Graham has been held up in the media for years as the sort of Pope of Evangelicalism–as the anointed leader and spokesman for the millions of evangelicals, who aren’t the monolithic breed the media make them out to be anyway.
Check this out from Christianity Today, the magazine that Billy Graham co-founded back in the early fifties.
More than 500 conservative evangelical pastors and leaders representing all 50 states are urging President Donald Trump to reverse his temporary ban on refugee resettlement and his “dramatic reduction” of the total America will accept this fiscal year.
The open letter, published Wednesday as a full-page ad in The Washington Post with more than 100 of the signatories listed, was notable for two reasons. First, it contained only conservative evangelicals, instead of the mix of progressive names that usually sign such open letters. And second, topping the list were Tim Keller and Max Lucado—two well-known and well-respected pastors and authors who rarely speak out on political matters. [My italics for emphasis.]
Other key signatories include Kathy Keller, Willow Creek’s Bill and Lynne Hybels, authors Stuart and Jill Briscoe, author Ann Voskamp, Southern Baptist seminary president Daniel Akin, and pastors Joel Hunter and Derwin Gray, among many others [full ad below].
“As Christian pastors and leaders, we are deeply concerned by the recently announced moratorium on refugee resettlement,” stated the group letter, later noting, “We have a historic call expressed over 2,000 years to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now.”
The article–which I urge you to read in its entirety here–adds this stunning note:
The organizer of the group letter–World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and one of the nine agencies that resettle refugees in America–explained on a conference call Thursday morning that the signatories have grown to more than 3,000. It continues to gather signatures.
Got that? More than 3,000 conservative evangelicals have signed off on the letter urging President Trump to accept the refugees who were supposed to be resettled this year.
(Update: The latest update has the number at 5,000 and growing!)
Christianity Today–which denounced Donald Trump in a commentary before the election last year–cited this as one of the takeaways from the open letter to Trump:
“Evangelical leaders overwhelmingly oppose the four-month refugee freeze and resettlement reduction.”
Which makes Franklin Graham look like the misguided odd man out, at best, among evangelical leaders.
You wouldn’t know this from watching Fox News, however, which continues to give Franklin Graham face time on TV every day and every night to espouse his twisted theology.
Astoundingly, Franklin Graham asserted the other day that immigration is “not a biblical issue.”
My friend Mark Wingfield, a pastor at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, notes that Graham’s statement should be listed in the category of “alternative facts.”
Wingfield is no fan of Samaritan’s Purse. In a forceful article about Graham’s evermore stridently hateful crusade against immigrants and Muslims, Wingfield wrote:
Franklin Graham has a voice not only because he is his father’s son but because of his work through Samaritan’s Purse. No doubt, this relief agency does good work and not everyone who works there agrees with Graham. But remember that he gets a hearing because of the scope of that organization.
Evangelical Christians across America enable this platform — and Graham’s mean declarations — by supporting Samaritan’s Purse financially and by teaching their children to support it through Operation Christmas Child. Do you really want to send a dose of hatred along with that shoebox of Christmas trinkets? Does handing out Christmas gifts counterbalance Graham’s declaration that many of those who receive them would not be welcome in America?
Please read Brother Mark’s article here.
It should be noted that Franklin was also repudiated by conservative Baptists in Puerto Rico last week because of his immigration nonsense. They planned to boycott Franklin’s own Festival of Hope evangelistic rally in San Juan if he showed up. (He stayed home and the rally went on.)
It’s heartening to see this sort of theological revolt against Trump’s policy, and encouraging to see Franklin Graham’s influence take a tailspin–except in conservative TV and radio, of course.
If this Christian revolt against Trump continues, even the talking heads who fawn all over Franklin Graham at Fox might have to pay attention and give other evangelicals equal time.