Sunday, November 13, 2016

An Open Letter to Franklin Graham




 On November 10th, Franklin Graham posted his reaction to the Presidential election on his Facebook page. My response to his reaction appears below.



Mr. Graham,

                    With all due respect to you and the Protestant authority your surname grants you, I think that you are inflicting irreparable harm upon Christians and the reputation of the Savior we claim to represent. You began your essay with a question, “Did God Show Up?” as if his ability to be present in people’s lives was predicated upon the balance of power between two American political parties. Let me pose a rebuttal question, “What Makes You Think That He Ever Left?” At what point did the God who created the heavens and the Earth become cowered by the balance of power in modern America? At what point did Jesus - whose entire ministry took place in the shadow of Roman imperialism - become too squeamish to operate in our nation?  

I say this because your words have inexorably linked the will of Christ with the actions of Donald Trump and his administration. That is dangerous not because of who he is, but because of what politics is not: a surrogacy for Christian discipleship. Politics is an intrinsically secular and self-serving extension of American democracy. To attribute the actions and words of a politician to God is nothing short of blasphemy. Yes, our faith will affect where we fall on a few issues, but I dare say that most political issues don’t have a clear faith component. For example:

Corporate Tax Rates?
Immigration?
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing?  
Congressional Term Limits?
Asian Trade Tariffs?
Gun Control?
The Defense Budget?
Healthcare Costs?
Standardized Tests?
The Opioid Epidemic?
Capital Punishment?
Agricultural Subsidies?
Social Security Reform?
Banking Regulations?

All that I am saying is that it is perfectly reasonable for American Christians to come to different conclusions on the issues without having their faith publicly questioned. That leaves us with homosexuality and abortion; two theological minefields that we have been unable to reach a consensus about as a religion much less a country. If I am Catholic, the very act of taking birth control is a sinful medical intrusion into the reproductive process while a Protestant might only define abortion as the selective termination of a viable pregnancy with no extenuating circumstances. Homosexuality is equally as murky among believers who are still grappling with the idea of nature versus nurture.

You said that “God’s hand intervened Tuesday night to stop the godless, atheistic progressive agenda from taking control of our county” which leaves the reader with a few possible scenarios:

1.      God’s hand only intervenes on certain occasions and the Trump/Pence ticket was worthy of such a celestial intrusion where the Romney/Ryan or MacCain/Palin ticket was not.
2.      God intervened in this election because Christian families and churches prayed about it more than they did in 2008 or 2012.
3.      This is the first time a “godless, atheistic progressive agenda” has attempted to take control of the country.

As an added bonus, your statement carelessly labeled the 65 million citizens who cast their vote for someone other than the Republican nominee as going against the very will of God. Instead of simply disagreeing with their political conclusions, you have chosen to dismiss them redundantly as “atheistic” and “godless.” Is it really so improbable that a fellow believer found themselves unable to cast a vote for Donald Trump? Will the Day of Judgment be a long line of Americans attempting to explain their support of Gary Johnson, Hillary Clinton, or Dr. Jill Stein?

The God I love is not restricted to arbitrary labels like conservative, liberal, Republican or Democrat. At the risk of sacrilege, I would even venture to guess that He isn’t even an American. The God I love does expect me to conduct myself with faith and grace, especially in dealing with those I disagree with. The God I love would never equate contemporary political affiliation with eternal sacred worth or casually invalidate the faith of another person because our ballots were not identical.

You ended the commentary by declaring that, “My prayer is that God will bless America again.” What does that even mean? Has your God been withholding his blessings from 319 million people until the Electoral College would allow Him to resume dispensation through Donald Trump? Did your God need the permission of a political party to touch the hearts and lives of his children? Does your God require His ministers to endorse political candidates while utilizing Facebook to denounce “secular media”?  

Jesus conspicuously avoided political commentary over the course of His Earthly ministry, perhaps you should do likewise.

4 comments:

  1. Hillary and Bill Clinton spoke from the "pulpit" in countless churches - as have most Democratic candidates.

    They were not NOT preaching sermons or the gospel.
    But as a candidate.

    What about this - this was in a CHURCH.
    What about Rev. Jesse Jackson ?
    What about Rev Al Sharpton ?

    You must CONDEMN both sides for "using" God for politics

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    Replies
    1. Beautifully said Carla.

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