(RNS) Evangelist Franklin Graham is praising Russian President Vladimir Putin for his aggressive crackdown on homosexuality, saying his record on protecting children from gay “propaganda” is better than President Obama’s “shameful” embrace of gay rights.
Graham, who now heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association started by his famous father, praises Putin in the March issue of the group’s Decision magazine for signing a bill that imposes fines for adults who promote “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”
The Russian law came under heavy criticism from gay rights activists, and from Obama, ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In response, Obama included openly gay athletes as part of the official U.S. delegation to Sochi.
“In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues,” Graham writes. “Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”
Meanwhile, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association still has plenty of articles about ‘cults’ on its website, some with quotes attributed to Billy Graham personally. The site doesn’t name specific groups any more, but its definition continues to conflate groups characterised by a dysfunctional authoritarianism – which the popular understanding of ‘cults’ – with groups that simply hold religious views that have some association with Christianity but which the BGEA regards as unorthodox. That conflation explains why the now-deleted page where Mormonism was named as a cult also included Unitarianism on the list – and I very much doubt that a presidential election involving a Unitarian, almost certainly running as the Democrat candidate, would have given Franklin Graham any reason to think again about ‘calling people names’.
And as regards Islam, Graham Jnr is more than happy not only to fire off denunciatory adjectives, but to use the religion itself in his own arsenal of name-calling; as he explained in the run-up to the election:
‘I can’t say categorically [that Obama is not a Muslim] because Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama,’ he said.
Franklin Graham, son of Rev. Billy Graham, has added his opinion as to why Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election to President Obama. Unlike claims of voter fraud or voter intimidation coming from Fox News and their analysts, Graham’s reasoning has little to do with President Obama or the Democrats in America.
“We’ve turned our backs on God,” Graham told CBN’s David Brody on Friday morning.
Graham believes the biggest problem with the United States is secularism. He points to President Obama’s support of marriage equality as a key reason America is on a slope towards complete secularism.
Graham voiced his support for Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority Coalition in years past. He pointed to the work of Ralph Reed and other religious groups in spreading the word on how important it is for evangelicals to vote.
“The vast majority of evangelicals did not go to the polls,’ Graham alleged during the interview.
The Faith and Freedom Coalition’s own national polling stands at odds with Graham’s view. Evangelicals comprised 27 percent of the overall electorate with 78 percent of evangelicals voting for Mitt Romney. Ralph Reed is the President of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
In a statement last week, Reed claimed as many evangelicals voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 as had voted for former President George W. Bush in 2004.
As he gives sound bites condemning Islam, promoting top Republicans and raising questions about President Obama’s Christianity, North Carolina’s Franklin Graham is sounding less these days like the next Billy Graham and more like the new Jerry Falwell.
In the younger Graham’s controversial comments - offered recently and over the years on a host of TV news shows - religion scholars, political historians and even some of Graham’s fellow evangelical Christians say they hear strident echoes of the combative Falwell.
Throughout the 1980s, as head of the Moral Majority, Falwell lambasted liberals, forged alliances with the GOP and elevated issues such as abortion, homosexuality and public prayer.
The 58-year-old Graham, who came of age in a more religiously pluralistic America than the one that made his father famous, has spoken out against Islam in a way that American Muslims say encourages prejudice - and worse - against them. And though Billy Graham lost some credibility for promoting Richard Nixon during a time of American discord, his son readily mixes theological commentary with doses of political punditry.
When reporting on Franklin Graham dipping his toes into the birther wading pool, Shepard Smith said this:
Shep Smith is simply too cool…and honest…for Fox News.
“Fox News Can Confirm That The President Of The United States Is A Citizen Of the United States, Period.”
Graham also expressed his dismay at the way the recent memorial service for victims of the Tucson shooting was handled, contrasting the event with other memorial services that he attended. While memorial services for the Oklahoma City bombing and a prayer service after 9/11 called upon the name of God, the Tucson memorial featured an Indian man who was calling upon “father sky and mother earth.”
“There was no call for God to put His loving arms around those who were hurting,” he observed. “Why did they leave him out? They scoff at the name of Jesus Christ.”
He said the scoffing and persecution against believers of Christ is only going to get worse.
“The spirit of anti-Christ is everywhere,” stated Graham, who noted that television networks have pushed out reporters who cover Christian-related topics. “We’re being secularized so quickly. Anything that has to do with Christian faith is slowly being taking out of society.”
When he says “They scoff at the name of Jesus Christ”, is he implying that Obama is the one scoffing? Could this be another peep from the “Obama is the Anti-Christ” meme? Or just more of the typical “Christian persecution” meme?
Or is it just that he’s still bitter about being dis-invited from the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer?
And with the hatred of the “Other” comes paranoia. Having demonized sinners, it’s time to fear them. In an interview with Newsmax Television, Franklin was asked if he thought there was a “pattern of hostility to traditional Christianity by the Obama administration.” “I don’t know if it’s exactly from President Obama,” Graham responded, “but I’m certain that some of the men around him are very much opposed to what we stand for and what we believe.”
Franklin continued, “It seems as though Muslims are getting a pass.” In the same interview Franklin was asked by the host about mounting “secular oppression of Christians” in the United States. “No question, it’s coming,” Graham said. “I think when you preach that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the light, I think we’re going to see, one day; people will say this is hate speech.”
In 2010, Franklin even managed to get his father to sign a pro-Sarah Palin Graham family endorsement that was so out of character with everything the non-political Billy that I knew stood for that I can only conclude Franklin was taking advantage of a muddled old man.