According to a report in The Christian Post, the now elderly Billy Graham is advising Christians not to be discouraged or offended by pastors asking for money. In so many words perhaps they shouldn’t be, but it doesn’t sound as though in his advanced years the retired Graham senior is aware of the scandal being caused by the Prosperity Gospel teachings which are destroying lives and faith and bringing the church generally into disrepute in the world.
This oversight is mild and nothing in comparison with some of the embarrassingly eccentric notions proceeding from his offspring and which only get heard because of their revered father’s reputation.
I haven’t time to follow up half the wild things Franklin Graham has been saying in recent times about “homosexuals” . They are the Enemy one shouldn’t allow into homes and churches or near your children and that because they can’t have children they may steal them and so on. Right wing Franklin is notoriously on record as having anachronistically praised Putin’s Russia for what is its internationally criticized, draconian treatment of the gay rights issue which has infected the mind of the nation spawning many abuses– any youth even looking effeminate is at risk of being beaten up on the streets by gangs who won’t be charged for their crimes.
The fact about gays is that most are not even notably inclined to either marriage or having children, their own or other people’s; but they do want a measure of acceptance and equality, the reason there has been a considerable push towards a marriage equality many will never personally put to use. But to suggest gays are child stealers, perhaps snatchers, frustrated around parenthood is crazy.
But now, and as though Franklin wasn’t enough, the daughter, Ann Lotz Graham is off on another tack. She believes God is judging and removing the divine pleasure from America and allowed 9/11 because of “the transgender silliness”. (UK Telegraph 14.5.2016). It’s not to question or deny that divine favour can be removed from a nation (or that there can be plenty of silliness around gender issues) to ask did mainstream America really even know much about transgenderism, sane or silly before Bruce Jenner transitioned last year and Obama made an issue about transgenders and bathrooms? Back in 2001 America was nearly wholly innocent of such things.
The Graham children remind one of a British figure of the sixties and seventies, Mary Whitehouse. She campaigned for things many people supported like getting sex off early evening TV, but unable to see the wood for the trees or perhaps just growing vain, eccentric or over confident in her authority, she proceeded to campaign against just anything like insisting the word “damn” should never be heard in media until people laughed at and ignored her.
Franklin especially and assisted by the authority of his father’s name, is fast becoming America’s Mrs Whitehouse, ready to rise to almost any and all occasions whether they or he are strictly relevant and whether he is informed in his judgements or not. It is painfully obvious he regards himself or would like to be regarded as a fearless Elijah against a corrupt world towards which he is prepared to be the martyr. But it won’t do.
People can see through it. The very effects he fears for America he increases as people turn away from Christianity disillusioned at sensationalism and gratuitous intolerance. Few would deny there are very major problems at stake for America in many directions. Even some gays have been questioning where PC ism and litigious attitudes are taking the country, some have even contributed to funds for Christians in trouble with gay intransigents.
But whatever is wrong one doesn’t take sledge hammers to crack nuts and/or mix your sermonizing with serious disinformation. If you increasingly do so, expect the negative reactions which emphatically do not help the Christianity you seek to defend and still less any kind of authentically “prophetic” warnings.