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    Religion or Politics?

    Evangelicals Stunned: Billy Graham Endorses Obama

    by | Oct 21, 2012

    In a recent full-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal, 93-year-old Billy Graham made a drastic political about-face by endorsing President Barack Obama for another term. The lifelong conservative evangelical Christian appears to have had quite the change of heart just days after meeting with Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

    Although The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said, “The ads intentionally do not mention any candidate, political party, or contest,” the support for the incumbent candidate is evident when one reads between the lines. For those who have difficulty decoding politically suggestive messages, have no fear: my expertise in composition and rhetoric will serve to guide you through Graham’s thinly veiled support for Barack Obama.Billy Graham Ad

    First, let us take a look at the text of the ad in its entirety:

    The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren, and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe that it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.

    Now there is certainly some fluff to Graham’s message–and I do like how he cleverly reminds everyone to send him a birthday card—but there are three specific points in the advertisement that prove Graham wants Americans to “gobama” this election:

    1. “…it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel.”
      [Expert Analysis] Since deciphering “biblical principals” is impossible (an eye for an eye?–or–turn the other cheek?), Graham is clearly nudging voters toward the candidate who supports Israel. A quick look at Barack Obama’s website provides plenty of cited evidence for the claims that the President “has repeatedly stood up for Israel in the international community, has sent record levels of security assistance as President, and believes that Israel must remain a Jewish state.” Graham could have probably stopped here, but he wanted to make sure Americans understood some other reasons why Obama deserves their votes.
    2. “I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life.”
      [Expert Analysis] This one is easily pointing to Obama, and even Mitt Romney makes a strong case for the President on this issue. Romney keeps mentioning how Obama has enabled more poor Americans to benefit from food stamps than ever before. If providing nourishment to hungry people isn’t protecting the sanctity of life, I don’t know what is. There is no life without food, and maybe there is an explanation as to why Romney is anti-food: he is constantly accused of being a robot, and a robot doesn’t even need food!
    3. “I urge you to vote for those who… support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”
      [Expert Analysis] Apparently, Obama supports this particular idea of marriage so much that he actually went out and married a woman. Now that is backing up policy with action. So many politicians say one thing about how people should live and yet don’t model the behavior. It is nice to see that, although President Obama doesn’t tell people what socio-religious practices they should follow, he leads by example instead. It was nice of Billy Graham to point out the President’s often overlooked relationship to the First Lady.

    In conclusion, the current President of the United States clearly meets all the requirements that Billy Graham thinks are important for this nation’s leader. Yet it is understandable that Graham chose not to explicitly name the President in his “non-political” advertisement; after all, the 501(c)(3) government entitlement program that benefits Graham’s non-profit association stipulates that organizations “may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”  Well played, Mr. Graham. I am sure that as a gesture of thanks for your coy public advertisement, President Obama will put in a good word for your organization with the IRS so you can continue to “not” support any political candidates–wink, wink.

    ###
    Jason Palmer

    Jason Palmer

    Jason Palmer is a full-time instructor of composition and American literature at a small college in North Georgia. He is also the editor of politicdiscourse.com and regular contributor to The McLean Parlor.

     

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    • Ann Onymous

      Holy smokes! You couldn’t be more off base! Your analysis is tweaked to your agenda. Mitt Romney fits all those characteristics by virture of his being a Mormon. Not to mention he and Netanyahu are old, old friends. Finally, Graham met with Romney just a ten days ago, citing his friendship with his father, and stating he was impressed with him (http://www.christianpost.com/news/billy-graham-meets-with-romney-impressed-by-his-values-83143/). In the end, both candidates are just a different side of the same coin, but that doesn’t excuse your poor analysis of Graham’s statements.

      • Jason P.

        Ann,

        Romney may be a Mormon, but you are a MORON if you couldn’t figure out the article is satire--and the whole point of the article isn’t who Graham endorsed; it’s that he endorsed anyone at all which thereby violates his association’s 501c3 exemption. (Thanks for helping me to make that point though.)

        In case you are still outraged from having to read Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” while you were in high school, let me clue you in on something: he didn’t really want people to eat babies.

        Jeesh.

        --JP

        • Linda

          The satire was lame, “Ann Onymous” missed the point, and you violated the rules of civility by making an ad hominem attack and putting it in all caps. Jeesh indeed.

          • Jason P.

            Linda,

            I stand by my assessment of Ann’s limited intellectual capacity, and question your taste in satire. But in the name of civility, thanks for reading.

            --JP

    • Meg Gerrish

      Well, I enjoyed it, Jason. Thank you for the amusement!

    • NunYa Biz

      Jason, ur facts are wrong: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/10/billy-grahams-website-removes-mormonism-from-cult-list/
      “The prominent Christian evangelist Billy Graham has taken public steps to embrace Mitt Romney for president this week, removing Romney’s Mormon religion from a list of cults on his website and taking out an advertisement that appears to urge people to vote for Romney.”

      • Jason P.

        And “ur” spelling is indicative of your ability to handle my sardonic perspective, but thanks for reading.

    • Green Lantern

      Jason . . .

      You’re right, of course, about the limited intellectual capacity of people who can’t recognize satire when they see it, including two of the commenters here. But this satire was crude, lame (as Linda said), sophomoric and heavy-handed, and your calling a commenter “a MORON” was mean-spirited. Her misunderstanding was not as unbecoming as someone’s claiming “expertise in composition and rhetoric” who doesn’t know the difference between principles and “principals.” When it comes to composition and rhetoric, perhaps you should confine yourself to the subject-verb agreement issues and the like that are undoubtedly your bread and butter in your composition classes at Lanier Technical College and stop aspiring to sophisticated political commentary, which appears to be beyond you.

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