Tag Archives: Billy Graham

Who would have thought it? Evangelical leaders rally behind Trump

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Donald J. Trump has just received a well-deserved roasting from Christianity Today, a mainstream magazine founded by the late, great Rev. Billy Graham.

The publication calls Trump “profoundly immoral” and declared its belief that he needs to be kicked out of office.

The reaction to the magazine’s blistering critique? What did current evangelical leaders say and do? They’re standing behind Trump. They aren’t criticizing the magazine’s assertions, per se. They just want their guy to remain in office so he can appoint conservative judges to the federal bench and push policies with which they are most comfortable.

There you have it. Politics and policy mean more to these folks than the behavior, the history and the proclivities of the individual who is their champion.

According to the New York Times: The response from his leading Christian supporters was laced with animosity that mimicked Mr. Trump’s signature style, and reflected the extent to which they have moved into lock step with him, even in rhetoric.

None of this is a big surprise. Christianity Today has become almost quaint in its mainstream view of Christianity. As the editor in chief, Mark Galli, has noted, evangelical Christianity is a “diverse” group that comprises faithful believers of all stripes and political persuasions. The politically active evangelical movement doesn’t seem to mirror that big-tent view.

Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, says his father would be “disappointed” in the publication he founded. I believe he would be even more disappointed in the highly partisan posture his son has assumed, given Billy Graham’s aversion to such overt political activity.

Still, the editorial is worth reading. It is worth studying. It is worth heeding. It’s a beaut.

Trump’s reaction to criticism reveals what many of us suspected

Donald Trump’s bizarre response to an editorial published in a mainstream evangelical publication appears to affirm what many of us have thought all along about the current president of the United States.

Which is that he doesn’t know a thing about the publication he is criticizing.

Christianity Today has come out with an essay calling for Trump’s removal from office. It was written by the magazine’s editor in chief, Mark Galli. It’s a brutal critique of Trump and the circumstances surrounding his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives.

What did Trump do in response? He called it a “far left magazine.” He said the magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham knows nothing about a “perfect transcript of a routine phone call.”

My point is that Christianity Today is not a “far left magazine.” It is a mainstream publication that appeals to the broad, diverse world of evangelical Christians. Galli has sought to make the point that the evangelical movement is not a monolith. It comprises a wide-ranging school of thought among Christians who adhere first and foremost to the tenets of Christianity, starting with their devotion to Jesus Christ.

Does anyone who knows anything at all about the president believe that he shares that view, that he has any understanding of the Bible, or the teachings that Jesus and his apostles offered the world? No!

Trump is, as the author Jonathan Alter described him this week, a “religious reprobate.”

So, for Trump to refer to Christianity Today as a “far left magazine” only reveals to many millions of us what we know already: that Donald John Trump is a pandering fraud.

Christianity Today: Trump has crossed moral line

My head is still spinning over the extraordinary condemnation of Donald Trump published by Christianity Today, a publication founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham and has become a leading voice for evangelical Christians who form arguably the president’s most reliable support bloc.

The editorial in the magazine takes Trump to task for across-the-board immoral behavior and asks his supporters how they can maintain their support of him while he continues to act with no moral compass.

It’s an extraordinary commentary. Editor-in-chief Mark Galli says that the impeachment inquiry was the deal-breaker for him and for his publication. He said the inquiry has revealed without question that Trump solicited personal political help from a foreign government; that act, Galli writes, is “profoundly immoral.”

Galli has expressed in eloquent and elegant prose feelings my wife and I have been expressing to each other for the past, oh, three years. It is that Donald Trump’s pandering to the religious right should be seen as an affront to those who actually believe in Christian theology and live by its teachings.

We have noted repeatedly that Trump, in our eyes, has violated practically every one of the commandments handed down by God himself. Christianity Today agrees, saying: That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.

Will this be a decisive argument? That remains to be seen. He will keep insisting that he intends to appoint judges faithful to the issues near and dear to evangelical voters.

So far, Trump has managed to maintain that support, even while he behaves like a religious reprobate.

Mark Galli has written a superb essay. Take a look at it here.


Christianity Today delivers the goods

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Rev. Billy Graham would be proud … I believe.

Christianity Today, the magazine founded by America’s Pastor, has delivered a stunning rebuke of the current president who has courted the evangelical movement as if he actually believed the teachings offered in the New Testament.

The publication has called for Trump’s removal from office. Read the analysis here.

The essay is written by editor in chief Mark Galli, who declares that Trump’s ethical incompetence and “moral deficiencies” render him unfit for high office.

Galli’s essay does take Democrats to task for having it in for Trump all along and for the nature of the impeachment process. Still, the publication’s editor states: But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

Does this essay now mean that millions of evangelical movement votes will abandon the president? Hardly. It does, though, suggest a leading Christian publication has retained a significant sense of outrage over a man who pretends to be faithful to Christian teachings.

This individual isn’t faithful to anything other than to his own well-being, his own poll standing, his own political future.

It appears to me that Christianity Today has, shall we say, found some necessary religion.

The Rev. Billy Graham is looking down on this world with a smile on his face.

Trump’s weird association with evangelicals takes an even weirder turn

It looks as though the nation’s strangest political alliance has taken a strange new twist.

Donald Trump has hired a thrice-married, money-loving televangelist to be his link to the evangelical Christian community that continues to support the president, even in the wake of a mountain of impeachment evidence that is piling up all around him.

This person’s name is Paula White. She is far from your run-of-the-mill person of the cloth. She has been marred by marital scandal. She lives in a glitzy mansion in Florida. She reportedly believes God wants believers to gather wealth. She delivers her ministry on television.

Doesn’t sound so, oh, very Trumpian? I believe it does.

The New York Times noted some fascinating spiritual comparisons.

The Times reported that Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon turned the Rev. Billy Graham, who the Times said was “so ubiquitous he became known as America’s Pastor.” President Obama turned to Rick Warren, whose best-selling book “The Purpose Driven Life” became the second best-selling hardcover book in American history; the No. 1 best-seller is, um, The Bible.

Read the Times story here.

Paula White comes from a vastly different mold than previous presidential pastors. She is, shall we say, more than a tad unconventional in her approach to God’s holy word.

She preaches something called “the prosperity gospel,” which the Times reports has drawn widespread criticism from mainstream religious leaders. Imagine that … if you can.

But there she is, working within the White House as a sort of “spiritual adviser” to a president who, to my way of thinking, has lived one of the most un-Christian lives of any notable public figure I’ve ever seen.

Didn’t he once tell us that he’s never sought “forgiveness”? He has admitted cheating on two of his three wives; and there’s plenty of evidence that he’s fooled around on Wife No. 3. He has preached a doctrine of toughness to obtain business success. Trump has mocked others’ physical disabilities, their appearance, their intelligence.

Does any of that resemble what Jesus Christ would endorse?

Don’t answer that.

Now he has someone named Paula White advising him. She will work to shore up his religious movement support.

Weird, man.

What Bible is Franklin Graham reading?

The Rev. Franklin Graham inherited the mantle of his late, great father, the Rev. Billy Graham, in preaching biblical doctrine as pitched initially by Jesus Christ.

I do not deny Franklin Graham’s influence on the nation’s evangelical movement. However, I have to wonder which version of the Holy Bible empowers him to say:

That a Democratic candidate for president, Pete Buttigieg, should “repent” for his “sin” of being gay, and that it’s OK to throw his support behind Donald Trump, who has cheated on all three of his wives and who has acknowledged that his celebrity status enables him to grab women by their pu***.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Franklin Graham in 2000 when he came to Amarillo for a series of “crusades” at Dick Bivins Stadium. He came across as a pleasant man and we had a cordial visit. I recall asking him about his political activism and he spoke forthrightly about his support for politicians who espouse their Christian faith.

However, the man’s support of Donald Trump continues to perplex me. He looks past this president’s lengthy life prior to becoming a politician, a life that has included an endless array of behavior, conduct and lifestyle that spits in the face of the holy figure he purports to worship.

Juxtaposed with that we hear Rev. Graham suggest that “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg must repent because he is an openly gay man who also happens to be faithful to his husband. Graham recently cited the Old Testament passage that calls for gays to be put to death, for crying out loud. He also did not mention that Jesus called on us to love everyone unconditionally.

Buttigieg’s presidential campaign has caught fire in recent weeks. He has emerged from a no-name, unknown Midwest mayor to become a legitimate contender for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Many conservatives, though, are focusing on his sexual orientation.

Franklin Graham is one of them.

Perhaps this matter illustrates one of the beauties — or curses, if you choose to call it that — of the Bible. We are free to interpret it any way we wish. We can take certain passages and mold them to suit our own bias.

I choose to draw a different interpretation from the Bible that Franklin Graham and I both read.

As for his support of the serial liar, philanderer, pu*** grabber Donald Trump . . . well, that’s his call. It doesn’t make sense to me.

America’s Pastor kept the faith

One of our country’s true giants has gone to reap his great reward.

The Rev. Billy Graham was 99 years of age. He had grown frail in recent years. He had become something of a recluse, staying at his North Carolina home away from the spotlight, eschewing the attention that other noted evangelical preachers had sought out feverishly.

But this man, who found his calling at a young age and then became arguably the nation’s most iconic evangelist, remain true to his belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

To my mind — and heart — Rev. Graham kept the faith. He sought to preserve Christian purity as taught by Jesus two millennia ago. His belief was that one need not mix faith with secular politics. He delivered an unvarnished message of love and faith.

Rev. Graham was a confidant to U.S. presidents, all of them from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. You want bipartisanship? Rev. Graham embodied it, providing spiritual counseling to presidents of both parties. Yes, he was closer to some than to others. For instance, Rev. Graham developed a close personal friendship with President Nixon and stood by him during the Watergate scandal that eventually forced the president to resign. When it became clear that the president was complicit in the coverup, Graham was said to be hurt terribly by that revelation.

Still, he remained — in his own view — “above the fray” of partisan politics, which is a lesson that was lost on other noted evangelists. I think, for instance, of Revs. Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell, two men who in my view sullied their standing as spiritual leaders with their involvement in partisan politics.

That lesson also has been lost on the Rev. Franklin Graham, the great man’s own son, who also has stooped to the level of political hack. Papa Graham could not have been happy about that, even as the younger Graham carried forth the tradition of the famous Graham “crusades” around the world.

It’s been reported that Graham spoke to roughly 200 million people during his many years of preaching Jesus’s Gospel. He no doubt was heard by many more than those who stood before him, whether in revival tents or across sprawling landscapes in much larger venues.

It’s not an overstatement to suggest that Rev. Graham will be known forever as America’s pastor. He was passionate in his faith and was unafraid to share it with the world.

As it has been said about many iconic figures who have come and gone, the Rev. Billy Graham won’t ever be compared to anyone else.

Christians face troubling dilemma with POTUS

Leave it to the granddaughter of one of America’s great spiritual leaders to finally — finally! — put some perspective on one of the nation’s strangest political alliances.

Jerushah Armfield, whose grandfather is none other than the Rev. Billy Graham, said this on CNN: “In order to forgive somebody, that individual needs to repent and apologize. And I don’t think America has seen that from our President in any scenario.”

Why “forgive” in this case? Because the president of the United States uttered some despicable language when referring certain nations of the world. He called nations in Africa and Haiti “sh**hole countries,” a comment that has drawn international scorn.

Armfield, though, isn’t so alarmed that Donald Trump used that language, but is perplexed at how he dehumanized millions of people. And yet so many evangelical Christian leaders are willing to give the president a pass on that conduct. Why? Because they support his policies.

Armfield went on: “I understand a lot of evangelicals supporting him because of his policies,” she said. “I’d love to see a Christian leader come out and say that they support Trump for his policies, but that his behavior disgusts them, and he needs to clean up his act.”

His behavior hasn’t “disgusted” leaders, such as Armfield’s uncle, the Rev. Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son and one of Trump’s key evangelical supporters.

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, has said Trump deserves a “mulligan,” that his comments — and his admitted deeds — aren’t enough to repulse people of faith.

Armfield said more: “My president doesn’t have to be a Christian … I just don’t want him to be held up as the poster boy for Christian evangelicals because he doesn’t represent most of us.”

Yet, the president continues to bask in the support thrown his way by leaders of a movement who — I am utterly certain — wouldn’t tolerate a fraction of the hideous behavior from a politician whose policies they oppose.


Partisan preacher quits his party

(RNS1-MAY02) Evangelist Franklin Graham preaches during a recent crusade in Mobile, Ala. See RNS-GRAHAM-QANDA, transmitted May 2, 2006. Religion News Service photo by John David Mercer/The Press-Register in Mobile, Ala.

The Rev. Franklin Graham has given up on the Republican Party.

He quit, citing Congress’s refusal to stop federal funding for Planned Parenthood. So, Graham — son of the legendary preacher the Rev. Billy Graham — has had enough of the GOP.

I thought immediately of a bumper sticker I once saw on a car here in Amarillo. I am paraphrasing, but it said, “God is bigger than a bumper sticker.”

Indeed …

Graham isn’t the first high-profile preacher to become involved in partisan politics. Another Republican, Mike Huckabee, is a former Baptist preacher seeking the Republican presidential nomination; Democrats Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, both of whom are ordained Christian clergymen, also have run for the highest office in the land.

Still, I find it intriguing to hear that Franklin Graham is quitting the Republican Party because of an intensely emotional issue. That would be abortion.

Perhaps, though, he ought to know that the Hyde Amendment — named after the late Republican U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde — prohibits the federal government from dedicating public money for abortion and that Planned Parenthood’s mission goes far beyond providing abortion referrals for women seeking to terminate their pregnancy.

And, yes, God truly is far bigger than a bumper sticker.

Or a political party.