“My father knew Donald Trump, he believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump.”-Franklin Graham

Having lived in small Southern towns for most of my life, I believe that almost all preachers in these towns are good people, generally modest folks who care much less about themselves than their flock. The typical local Reverend cares much more about the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of his church’s members than he does extremist politics or getting wealthy.

Franklin and Billy Graham in Cleveland Stadium (June 1994) taken by Paul M. Walsh
Franklin and Billy Graham in Cleveland Stadium (1994)

I don’t feel similarly positively about televangelists, especially Brother Billy Graham who I believe indirectly inspired quasi-religious conservative activism having nothing to do with righteousness. Per his son, Graham supported Donald Trump, arguably the least moral President who has ever held office. But given Graham’s hypocritical history, it’s not at all surprising.

For example, Mark, 10:17-25 reads: “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.” I am not a religious scholar, but doesn’t the above quote mean that Billy Graham (worth $25 million at his passing) will be poor in heaven? Should we be surprised that he hypocritically supported a clearly immoral con artist who made his fortune by deception, dishonor and deceit?

(Note: To be fair, it should be noted that Brother Billy was not our richest preacher. There are five wealthier American preachers (Beliefnet): 1. Kenneth Copeland: $760 Million; 2. Pat Robertson: $100 Million; 3. Benny Hinn: $42 Million; 4. Joel Osteen: $40 Million; and 5. Creflo Dollar: $27 Million.)

Moreover, Brother Billy was also a Nixon supporter, defending him right down to the bitter end. Further, he told Nixon, an anti-Semite, that: a. “This stranglehold (by Jews) has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain.” and b. “They (Jews) don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country”, among other anti-Jewish comments.

Would Jesus, a Jew, have approved of Brother Billy’s documented anti-Semitism? When the missionary Stanley Jones asked Gandhi about Jesus his response was “I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.” Gandhi’s statement describes Graham very well.

According to the conservative pundit George Wills (WP, 2-22-18): “Graham frequently vowed to abstain from partisan politics and almost as frequently slipped this self-imposed leash, almost always on behalf of Republicans.” For example, Brother Billy bought a Washington Post ad in November 2012, right at election time, urging religious people to vote biblical values such as “support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.” Clearly, the ad was political and partisan.

Did this set the tone for today’s myopic evangelicals, 80% of whom approve of a President who has been married three times and has had numerous salacious affairs while married? A man who epitomizes the moral opposite of nearly everything that evangelicals believe.

This column is not intended to negate the good works of Brother Billy. For example, to his everlasting credit he bravely pushed desegregation at a time when it was not popular in the South, his home. However, he also supported a racist for President in 2016.

The mainstream media seems much more interested in shamelessly dwelling on Brother Billy’s fame rather than in evaluating his true legacy, including his numerous negatives. This column is simply intended to balance the scales and make us objectively reflect on his life and impact on our society.

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Photo Credit: Franklin and Billy Graham in Cleveland Stadium (June 1994) taken by Paul M. Walsh (Creative Commons via Wikipedia.org).

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.