Measuring Graham's reach
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 12:10
Presidential hopeful Willard M. Romney — you may know him better as good ol’ Mit — made the rounds in North Carolina while campaigning for the state’s 15 electoral college votes. One scheduled stop placed the Republican nominee at the home of the Evangelical Rev. Billy Graham. Reports of the meeting indicate that although the latter did not outwardly endorse the former, he offered his “support” and prayers.
Despite my numerous theological and moral disagreements with the reverend, he is deserving of respect for being a public figure who has established clout for himself from over half a century’s worth of ministry.
He used the pulpit as a podium from which to speak out against the scourge of institutional racial discrimination – both domestically, in the form of Jim Crow, and abroad, as in the case of South Africa’s apartheid system. Accordingly, I cannot earnestly find fault with Mr. Romney’s desire to meet with him.
Instead, I find myself disheartened by the overreaching influence of the aging religious leader.
Mr. Graham has met with every sitting American president since Harry Truman, including President Obama, and served as a close spiritual adviser to nearly all of them – once again, including President Obama. Considering how he played a seminal role in the 1980s’ evangelical revival, which led to the re-establishment of America’s religious right — social conservatives — I am not incredibly inclined to support his unique access to the office of the presidency.
His son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, with whom he has gone on speaking tours, has made himself known for a litany of offensive comments in response to unfortunate news events.
Following 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, he claimed that the storm might have been God’s means of bringing about “revival” to combat the city’s “wicked” nature. On the topic of Muslim-Americans in an interview with ABC news, he said that he understood that Muslims want to build as many mosques and cultural centers as possible in order to convert as many Americans as they can to Islam. He expressed that he did not have the freedom to do something similar in most Muslim countries — building churches and synagogues is forbidden there.
I do not bring up Franklin’s views to insinuate that his father shares them; I have no means of proving such an accusation. However, his associations with radical factions of conservative Christianity makes him a liability, in turn souring perceptions of the office of the president abroad.
With that being said, even more noteworthy is the profound desecration of Thomas Jefferson’s core principal of separation of church and state, brought about by the close rapport between Mr. Faldwell and all of the past 50 years’ executives.