Billy Graham may not have been a religious crackpot, but he paved the way for a lot of them, including his son Franklin
"I do not believe that Billy Graham would have instigated the ad essentially endorsing Romney. I wouldn’t be surprised if Billy Graham didn’t even know about it. I think that he is being exploited by his son to further Franklin’s political objectives."
-- Sally Quinn, in a WaPo "On Faith" column,
"Sins of the son: Sad treatment for Billy Graham"
"Sins of the son: Sad treatment for Billy Graham"
Hey, I'm surprised to be quoting Sally Quinn too. But the subject of this column caught my eye. I'm less persuaded than she is that "Billy Graham was and is a great man," though in fairness she does deal with some of the dark side of his legacy, notably the horribly embarrassing anti-Semitic ranting he was caught in with the release of the Nixon tapes. But Graham has been an important figure in American life, and his legacy includes a fair amount of spiritual uplift to the large numbers of people who have fallen under his sway. And as Quinn notes, his horizons notably broadened over the years, and that can't have been entirely lost on his followers.
I'm also not as sure as Quinn that Billy Graham has been as resolutely nonpolitical as she believes. There is a long history of up-close and personal hobnobbing with right-wing political figures which again I don't think was lost on his followers. But I think there was in his mind a line that he tried hard not to cross, a line that his son Franklin not only doesn't believe in but seems to wish to obliterate.
Near the end of her piece Quinn writes:
Today, at 94, Billy Graham is feeble, has hearing, vision and other health problems, and uses walkers and wheelchairs. He spends most of his day watching television. [There's a link here to a May 2011 Newsweek-Daily Beast piece, "The Fight Over Billy Graham's Legacy."] He has never been as active in the [Billy Graham Evangelistic] Association as has Franklin [who heads the association]. He is a revered figure around the world, particularly because he has stayed above the fray, never using his religion for political purposes or personal gain.I've jumped ahead here. Let's back up.
On Sunday, two days before the election, a full page advocacy ad in The Washington Post featured a huge picture of the Rev. Billy Graham, along with a signed statement by the world-famous evangelist advising readers to "VOTE BIBLICAL VALUES TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6.""How did it happen," Quinn wonders, that Graham, who "has prided himself on never endorsing any one politician," who "is a man of God and ministers to everyone" and has become "more and more accepting and pluralistic as he has has aged" -- "how did it happen that he virtually endorsed Mitt Romney the weekend before the election?"
Of all the sad things that have happened during this year's seemingly endless, divisive and vitriolic campaign, this ad was the saddest.
It read: "The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren, and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday, [which was Nov. 7] I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this Nov. 6 and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God."
Quinn points out that the elder Reverend Graham was seen photo-opping with the GOP candidate, in a manner that suggested a virtual endorsement by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, run by the Rev. Franklin G.
What was so surprising was that the Billy Graham Evangelical Association Web site at that time considered Mormonism a "cult." Graham had once described cult members as those who "reject what Christians have believed for 2,000 years, and substitute instead their own beliefs for the clear teachings of the Bible." Shortly after the meeting, that listing disappeared. According to Ken Barun, the Association's chief of staff, "we removed the (cult) information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign."Quinn points out too that Franklin G's Billy Graham Association bought 14 full-page ads in North Carolina newspapers supporting thel amendment inscribing "one man plus one woman" into the state constitution as its definition of marriage.
So calling Mormonism a cult is a "theological debate that has become politicized" while the debate over abortion and same sex marriage is not?
Franklin Graham has made his position on that issue very clear. "It grieves me, " he said, "that our president would now affirm same sex marriage, though I believe it grieves God even more."As I noted, Quinn is relatively forthright about some of the darker corners of the Reverend Billy's life -- too tactfully so, I would argue. With the Reverend Franklin she is blunter but still too tactful.
Franklin also said in Decision Magazine, "there is no place for comprmise or straight forward moral issues such as abortion and same sex marriage. God has given us clear biblical direction that we must follow and obey."
But Franklin Graham is no Billy Graham. Where Billy Graham has always been a voice for inclusion, even of religions other than his own, Franklin has not. In fact, in April 2010 the Pentagon rescinded an invitation for Franklin to attend their National Day of Prayer service because, after Sept. 11 he had referred to Islam as a "very evil and wicked religion" and said that Muslims are "enslaved" by their own religion.I don't have to even pretend to be tactful. The glaring reality is that Franklin is a mental disease. I don't mean that he has a mental disease (although I'm certainly not saying he doesn't) but that he is one.
Franklin has always leaned toward being more political than his father. He owns a house in Alaska and befriended Sarah Palin. He invited Palin to come visit his father in North Carolina. Shortly afterward, his father issued a statement saying that "Sarah and her family will always be welcome in the Graham family home."
He is a debased maniac whose existence is based on ignorance (everything he knows about Islam could be inscribed on the head of a pin) and loathsomeness (he appears incapable of drawing inspiration from anything except the wealth of sociopathic demons raging in his brain). He is at the head of the present-day cadre of Crap Christians who have by now fully divorced their faith from even the most tangential connection to morality or ethics to focus entirely on the 24/7 crusade to desecrate Jesus and make a mockery of everything he lived and died for.
"I do not believe that Billy Graham would have instigated the ad essentially endorsing Romney," writes Quinn.
I wouldn't be surprised if Billy Graham didn't even know about it. I think that he is being exploited by his son to further Franklin's political objectives. I also believe that it is a travesty because it is not the legacy he would have left behind, had it not been for Franklin using his father's name and taking advantage of his father's popularity.
Billy Graham was and is a great man.
Franklin should stop this exploitation now.
CONFIDENTIAL TO SALLY Q: The chances that Franklin will "stop this exploitation now" can be rated as slim to none. It's who he is and what he does.