THAT IS SO NOT LIKE BILLY GRAHAM, who celebrates his 94th birthday the day after the election.
It is, however, like his son Franklin, who now runs the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. So say religion scholars who have kept tabs on the Grahams.
Billy Graham biographers and church historians such as William Martin, author of A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story, say they wonder if Franklin is pulling the strings on his daddy.
Franklin says he’s not. “Nobody kidnaps my Daddy,” he told Michael Gordon of the Charlotte Observer.
Here’s the thing. Billy Graham got burned a good one in his bro crush on President Richard Nixon. That’s why Graham resisted the religious right, and warned other ministers to avoid politics, too. He said it could weaken their influence in spiritual matters.
In fairness, Graham doesn’t actually use the R word: Republican. But in a full-page ad in my local newspaper on Sunday, he asked us all to vote “Biblical Values.”
Then he told us which values he had in mind:
- “support the nation of Israel”
- “protect the sanctity of life”
- “support the definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”
Let me offer counterpoints that other Christians raise—biblical values that they say are better represented by the ticket not endorsed by Graham—Billy or Franklin. Whichever.
Biblical value: “Seek justice. Help the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17 NLT).
Many charge that Israel is a racist nation because it’s based on race, and it treats its non-Jewish citizens as a separate class. Example: requiring car license plates that instantly show police the race of the driver. Israel also, many argue, corrals the Palestinians into ghetto lands like white South Africans once did to the blacks, during Apartheid.
Israelis say they have to take measures to protect themselves from terrorist attacks.
Protect the sanctify of life?
Biblical value: “He [God] breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person” (Genesis 2:7 NLT)
Life is sacred. But which life is most sacred? The tiny fertilized egg, or the living, breathing soul caught in a crisis pregnancy?
Support marriage between a man and woman?
Biblical value: “Do not judge others….why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” (Matthew 7:1, 3 NLT).
Some Christians wonder why we don’t mind our own business instead of getting all legal on these guys and gals. As if we have a right to impose our morality on someone else. Even God doesn’t impose his morality on anyone. He gives us all a choice. Why shouldn’t Christians do the same, especially in areas that don’t directly affect us. It’s not as though we’d have to go to one of “their” weddings. Unless, of course, they tried to do to us what we’re trying to do to them: impose their beliefs on us.
Even Christians are divided over how to interpret Bible teachings about the gay lifestyle—a topic Jesus never addressed. That’s why denominations have split over the debate; with more splits likely coming.
On the Democratic side of the biblical values discussion, Christian Democrats wonder why we’re not talking about those values that Democrats rally behind:
- Help the poor. “Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless” (Isaiah 1:17 The Message).
- Provide healthcare for the sick. “Doom to you…. You don’t build up the weak ones, don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured” (Ezekiel 34:2, 4 The Message).
- Limit the corrupting influence of the rich. “Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink….All the workers you’ve exploited and cheated cry out for judgment” (James 5:2, 4 The Message).
- Take care of the environment. “God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it” (Genesis 2:15 CEV).
Many Christians would say those are biblical values, too.