Former President Donald Trump had a number of conservative evangelical leaders at his beck and call. Among them was Franklin Graham, the son of famous evangelist Billy Graham.
No matter what Trump did, no matter how low he sunk, the younger Graham remained a loyal sycophant. Even as a Trump-inspired mob stormed the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, killing a police officer, vandalizing the building and stealing property, Graham refused to accept what Trump had wrought. The rioters, he falsely asserted, were members of antifa. (Graham had earlier spread the false claim that Trump really won the Nov. 3 election, but it was stolen from him.)
After the House of Representatives impeached Trump for inciting the riot, Graham issued a Facebook post blasting the 10 Republicans who voted for it. Graham went so far as to compare the 10 to Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for a payoff.
“The House Democrats impeached him because they hate him and want to do as much damage as they can,” Graham said in the post. “And these ten, from his own party, joined in the feeding frenzy. It makes you wonder what the thirty pieces of silver were that Speaker Pelosi promised for this betrayal.”
With Trump now out of office, a Christian group has launched an effort to hold Graham accountable. The Charlotte Observer reported that Faithful America, an organization that opposes Christian nationalism from an explicit progressive Christian standpoint, has started an online petition calling on the board of directors of two Graham organizations, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, to fire Graham.
The petition reads, “As long as Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association stand by Franklin Graham, it must be said that these once-vaunted organizations have forgotten their original Christian missions, abandoned the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and are complicit in the spread of dishonest, discredited election conspiracy theories and the deadly, unpatriotic, white-nationalist terrorism at the U.S. Capitol incited by those lies. Our faith in Jesus Christ demands that we do better than this. Your fellow Christians from across the country call on you to fire Franklin Graham, or to resign from the Board in individual protest.”
Nearly 27,000 people have signed the petition. While it is unlikely that the effort will result in Graham’s dismissal – an official with the Graham organizations said they stand by Graham and don’t plan to fire him – it could become an important educational tool. Many Christians donate to Graham’s groups because they want to help those in need or boost evangelism. These Christians need to know that there are better ways, and better organizations, to support.
Trump left office in disgrace. Whether he chooses to accept it or not, Graham, who spent four years enabling Trump’s lies, bears that shame as well.
Photo: Franklin Graham leads a prayer during the 2020 Republican National Convention. Screenshot from C-SPAN.