November 2019 Church & State Magazine | People & Events

President Donald Trump is facing possible impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives, and one high-profile Religious Right leader is eager to rally support for the under-fire president.

Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, is continuing a tour he launched in 2016 that he calls “Decision America.” While Graham insists the tour is not political, the Associated Press noted that during an interview, he dismissed the charges against Trump.

Democrats have asserted that Trump violated the law by pressuring government officials in Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, who was leading the polls for the Democratic nomination at the time. Trump has admitted he asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, and even released a transcript of a phone call with Zelensky applying such pressure – but still insists he did nothing wrong.

Graham echoed Trump’s defense, calling the controversy “a lot over nothing.”

Graham told the AP, “It’s going to destroy this country if we let this continue.” He urged Americans to “come together as a nation and focus on the problems” the country faces. He called Hunter Biden “suspect” and added, “So it’s probably worth looking into to see what Vice President Biden [did] at the time, what kind of promises he made to help his son with the Ukrainians.”

Democratic leaders and many in the media have concluded that the Bidens did nothing wrong in Ukraine, and have asserted that Trump is trying to detract attention from his own behavior by focusing on them.

The North Carolina evangelist has been a consistent ally of Trump’s and has repeated excused Trump’s behavior, his Twitter meltdowns and his use of crude language to attack political opponents.

Graham told the AP he’s not worried about being used by Trump for political gain.

“One thing I appreciate about President Trump, he’s not a politician,” Graham said. “And that’s why he gets in trouble all the time.”

The AP interviewed several people who attended Graham’s crusade in Greenville, N.C., and found that many of them were not fazed by the allegations against Trump.

“I do feel like we are, as Christians, the first line of defense for the president,” one woman told the AP. Trump, she said, is “supporting our Christian principles and trying to do his best [and] everybody’s against him.”

Another attendee told the AP that the case against Trump is “all a bunch of crap” and added, “Could have a war ... you just don’t know. It’s scary.”

Graham later echoed those comments in an Oct. interview with Religion News Service (RNS).

“Our country could begin to unravel if an elected president is thrown out of office because of lies and the media,” Graham asserted. “It could be a devastating thing. We’re in very dangerous territory. I would encourage all the politicians to look very carefully at where we are and first of all make sure that truth is told.”

A band of progressive Christians took a different tack. The group Red Letter Christians held a day of prayer Oct. 13 in support of the impeachment inquiry, reported RNS.

“For the sake of our nation’s integrity and the most vulnerable in our society, we call on fellow Christians to support the current impeachment inquiry. Now is the time to shine the light of truth,” said a statement issued by the group.

“Please join us in praying that the truth will be revealed and set us all free.”

Among the signers were evangelist Tony Campolo, anti-poverty activist Pastor William J. Barber II, Sister Simone Campbell of Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson.