I don’t usually agree with articles in the National Review – I’ll be honest, I don’t read the National Review that often. But an article that has been making the rounds recently on social media caught my eye. Although it’s written by a conservative evangelical, I found myself nodding in agreement several times as I read it.
David French’s piece, “Franklin Graham and the High Cost of the Lost Evangelical Witness,” dovetails nicely with what I wrote yesterday concerning the rampant hypocrisy of the Religious Right. French singles out one especially egregious offender: Franklin Graham.
Graham is the son of the famous late evangelist Billy Graham. The older Graham was conservative politically but worked hard to at least appear to be bipartisan. He was willing to meet with and counsel presidents of both parties.
Franklin Graham doesn’t bother. His political work is highly partisan. The younger Graham has twisted himself into so many knots defending President Donald Trump’s crass behavior that he must be the envy of sideshow contortionists everywhere.
While turning a blind eye toward Trump’s antics, Graham remains as judgmental as ever when it comes to Democrats. As French noted, Graham has been especially active on social media lately blasting presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg who’s gay but who also has been vigorously defending his Christian faith from the far right.
This double standard, French asserts, is doing damage to the evangelical brand.
“All too many of our nation’s Evangelical leaders haven’t just ‘tolerated’ serious wrongdoing by Trump, they’ve rationalized and minimized it,” French writes. “Some have even given the ‘thumbs up’ in front of a Playboy cover. (What would Nathan, who dramatically confronted David over his infidelity and murder, say?) In so doing, they’ve seared the consciences of the culture and the church, and granted their secular opponents all the ammunition necessary to question our sincerity as believers.”
I would add that Graham isn’t just handing ammo to his secular foes but to younger evangelicals as well. Some polls show they’re drifting away from reflexive, far-right politics. The antics of Graham and other Religious Right Trump sycophants likely play a role in this.
It’s easy for Graham to dismiss claims that he is a hypocrite when they come from secularists, non-Christians or progressive Christians. But French is hardly any of those things. Graham may not like it, but French’s broadside speaks a truth to thoughtful evangelicals that’s not so easy to ignore.
(Photo: Matt Johnson via Creative Commons)