Due to being the revered Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham seems to have taken carte blanche to spout almost any tactless and prejudiced opinions hurting no matter what persons or issues. The man is a sensationalist, and, though I won’t make it an issue here, arguably someone not without an eye to profit as his controversial treatment of his father’s heritage and home suggests.
With his father’s influence declining due to age and ill health, son Franklin has achieved ever more prominence, but the real problems started back in 2010 when instead of criticizing Islam and questioning its aims as he had a perfect right to do, Franklin G simply dismissed it wholesale as a “wicked” and “evil” religion. These are words used in a way that could only endanger the situation of beleaguered Christians in certain majority Muslim countries. In the same uncompromising treatment of all and any themes he’s adopted, he’s back again this time taking a rather special line against gays and gay marriage – it is largely his noisy treatment this last week has roused the American evangelical world to protest and make World Vision renege on its recent willingness to allow the same sex married to be employed by them. (See http://bit.ly/1dShgvZ). Before that Franklin was protesting in favour of shockingly, crude homophobic statements by reality TV’s The Duck Dynasty and declaring (though three million evangelicals had supported them) that this wasn’t enough.
I don’t assent to any merely PC treatment of subjects, and democratically I don’t suggest Franklin Graham has no right to hold or express opinions against gays and gay marriage; but there is rather more to the matter than just this, and Graham must be held accountable for the trouble he either causes or supports. For example, while neo-nazi vigilantes attack and torture gays (or even just people who may look like them) on the streets of Russia and on the pretext they are dangerous paedophiles, the egregious Graham also commends Russia’s Putin for dealing with the gay problem as though he were a good Christian we should all praise. The evangelical scapegoating of gays and libels around them has got to stop.
No matter what he says, Graham’s supposedly biblical beliefs are hiding homophobic prejudices of a kind which support the false ideology and lies that interfering, too rich American evangelicals have been busily planting across Africa and Russia. They have been doing so with alarming consequences now widely criticized and which belong to the kind of American madness which also this last week has had a 9 year old girl expelled from a Christian school to the bewilderment of her Christian parents because she looks and seems too tomboyish.
Without admitting it, basically Graham takes the toxic line of persons like Scott Lively and Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association who in Africa and Russia have been pushing that “homosexuality” is totally learned – this can be biblically questioned as I do in the following article at http://wp.me/p2v96G-nl – so that in effect gays are totally, wilfully blameworthy and, as the AFA has it, there’s anyway no difference between gay sex and bestiality and child sex. Moreover since gays “recruit” children, which is a word Franklin Graham joins these eccentric extremists in using, they are in effect to be regarded as potentially dangerous paedophiles who must not be allowed near your children nor, ideally, allowed rights in society.
This is rank fear mongering. Graham also addresses the whole question of gay marriage as though there is no way in which it could be considered better than or different from the “fornication” of living together or even orgies. This, no matter what religious beliefs one holds, in the context of a democratic society amounts to taking a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” approach to the very existence and practices of gays in society. It is saying they ought not to exist and there is no situation in which we would tolerate you if we can help it (though of course “some of my best friends are gays” – the mantra so many homophobes will utter and they never think they are doing anything less than just protecting society). Nothing it seems is more righteous and worthy than opposing the miniscule number of gays who are or might ever have been employed by World Vision – many evangelicals decided on the spot it would be better to withdraw all funds to help the needy or financially “adopted” children through WV than encourage the slightest acceptance of gays.
Any such rejection of alternative people is then defended as perfectly biblical, hence irrefutably justified. Indeed where Franklin Graham is concerned such ideas are now also being offered to the world as though his father Billy Graham’s opinion exactly. Though I don’t have time to research the matter for this off-the-cuff article, I believe I am correct to say from one or two statements I recall, Billy Graham’s own approach finished a bit more open than in his earlier days and akin to that of the current Pope who of course is someone else Franklin recently rushed to condemn as “unbiblical”, a dangerous move towards any acceptance of (that non-biblical word) “homosexuality”.
We are bound question the philosophy that Franklin Graham and his evangelical followers are working on. Beyond any fundamentalist literalism it’s a simplistic sola scriptura, (scripture only) position, one that he has forced a “repentant” World Vision to cite back to him, namely that the “infallible” “unchanging” Word of God is against “homosexuality” and against any marriage that is not heterosexual monogamous too. What the SS believers really mean is that St Paul never expressed a personal opinion or wrote within his cultural/historical context but rather had everything directly dictated to him from heaven. In which case….the logical consequence ought to be there should be no America because that nation was founded on opposition to appointed authority, something the apostle opposed, and that evangelicals should exclude women from their churches because they haven’t kept silent and don’t necessarily cover their heads.
Let’s not speak of all the sola scriptura Protestants who have been cheerfully divorced or reflect upon the biblical polygamies of such as Abraham and David. While one can, and I think should, believe that there is a line of inspiration that runs through scripture and that provides an ultimate coherence, we should see SS doctrine as ultimately untenable nonsense – there would not even be a Bible if any principle of the sort had been rigorously applied against such as prophets with original messages. All we can say is that provided there is not outright/blatant contradiction of the spirit and meaning of the whole, the Spirit must be allowed to speak to the churches as is independently the case in such as Rev 3:22 and/or in timely modification of existing scriptures as in Acts 10 where in vision Peter is required, and resists, going against what he considers is revealed scriptural truth, for a new wider view. The Spirit (that is God) as much as the Bible is supposed to guide the church which risks otherwise falling for bibliolatry. “The Word of God” originally meant Jesus himself as Logos rather than the version of Bible was possess following church council agreements.
Without suggesting everything gays say, do or claim is right, the fact is their treatment is a serious, insufficiently repented blot upon the record of Christianity and it is beyond high time things were changed and the quasi-fascist, paranoid attitudes of some evangelicals left behind, protested and condemned and even in God’s name by genuine believers. The very success of the more radical claims and expressions of liberation have only become possible through the weary cynicism of society at the utter intransigence the churches have long displayed and the bullying they have ignored. In humility Christians should see in what most offends them as simply a kind of judgement upon them.
It is unfortunate that Christian media in America like The Christian Post even give space to reporting such as Franklin Graham as though some kind of authority. And likewise the gloatings over the needed “repentance” of World Vision from the likes of deceptively avuncular Dr Michael Brown who notoriously has recently commended the work of Uganda to protect its children – in which case, unless he’s genuinely blind and deaf to what’s going on, he necessarily regards the nation’s controversially draconian anti gay laws and unchecked vigilante violence as managing to do. This Jewish Christian has not, alas, learned the lessons of anti-Semitism and the holocaust and so should not be listened to.
As usual and too often the American evangelical churches are just disgracing themselves and Christianity at large. And it belongs to the dubious nature of the American religious scene that I write this here rather than attempt to contact leaders like Franklin Graham privately. So thisworldly, commercial and overworked are their relevant churches and organizations such persons are pretty much in the hands of minders and staff which let through what is pleasing and acceptable to hear to the extent it is a waste of time to approach them even if, as in my case, you’re qualified and published in your or their line. It is easier to contact royalty (I seriously mean that) than any American Christian, especially a rich bigoted one. As one of my more parlando style poems remarks,
“It’s not as though, speaking apart and speaking in prose
I can’t get the atheists replying, Iris, Alain, Andre
The whole who’s who of rank unbelief. They will
Give a response, but just as with those in religion…..
….Expect to hear nothing, their vocation comes ripe with disdain”
Franklin G. was oh so “grieved” by World Vision’s decision. Thinking, feeling people will think there is a lot more in Franklin’s own attitudes and statements and on more than just World Vision to be grieved about.
Relevant to things considered here are various articles of mine (on my main blog, McCleary’s Alternatives) such as:
Christo-Fascism or Christo-Humanism wp.me/p2v96G-kB
God and the Gay Gaps in Matthew Vines’ Vision http://wp.me/p2v96G-nl
Songs of Puritania on a Gay Theme (poetical satire of a variety of American Christian attitudes) http://bit.ly/16ybdts