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Walking Our Faith: Whom do you serve, Mr. Graham?

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
Walking Our Faith
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

When I was a young girl, I went to a Billy Graham crusade at a stadium in my hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. At the end of the service, like so many others, I walked forward during the altar call even though I had been going to church from my earliest days of childhood. I felt called, and I wanted to be part of the wonderful feeling (what I would later understand as a moving of the Holy Spirit) that permeated the entire stadium.

Billy Graham was called America’s preacher for good reason. He held rallies throughout America and the world, and he embraced people of all colors and backgrounds. He prayed with presidents whether they were Democrat or Republican. Sharing his love for God was his No. 1 mission. Over the past three years, I have often longed for his compassion and wisdom.

At the start of the impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, posted on his Facebook page: “As President Donald J. Trump’s legal team has been defending him in the Senate impeachment trial, I feel it is so important that we pray for him and all the senators. The President’s enemies will be pressuring senators to convict him, but pray that there are enough men and women of integrity who will do the right thing for our country. Pray that the President will be protected from lies and false accusations. When men and women of God pray, we have access directly to the throne of God. The Bible says, ‘Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace …’ The future of our nation is at stake.”

When I read his words, I felt a knot in my stomach. Why hadn’t he asked us to pray that members of the Senate would work in a bipartisan fashion to find the truth and render a judgment based on justice for the good of the entire country?

Instead of asking us to pray for an outcome favorable to the president, why hadn’t Franklin Graham asked us to pray that God’s will be done?

Why hasn’t Mr. Graham publicly prayed that in a time when our country is so divided, we would unite as one country under God? That we would see one another not as warring political parties but as Americans?

When you ask a Trump supporter why they support him, they point to the number of conservative judges that have been appointed to the courts and to Trump’s public pronouncements in favor of pro-life advocacy.

But at what price?

On Wednesday, the Senate voted on impeachment articles. Four senators — Lamar Alexander, Lisa Murkowski, Marco Rubio and Susan Collins —publicly stated they believed the president acted inappropriately and wasn’t innocent of the charges, still they chose not to impeach. Mitt Romney was the only Republican senator who voted “guilty,” citing his strong religious beliefs in making his decision.

Instead of using the end of the impeachment to call for reconciliation, Franklin Graham posted this on Facebook after the vote: “I wish that Nancy Pelosi, Mitt Romney, Chuck Shumer and others would give up on their bitterness and hatred and start working with this President instead of against him. The Bible warns us, ‘…if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.’”

Here’s what the “bitter” Romney said in during his speech in the Senate, choking with emotion to explain why his Christian faith brought him to his decision: “The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise ‘impartial justice.’ I am a profoundly religious person. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.”

For religious leaders like Franklin Graham, who support Trump no matter what he does or says, I would like to share a defining moment from the life of Jesus Christ.

After Jesus Christ was baptized in the river Jordan, he was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, at which point he was tempted by Satan, first with food, then with safety and finally with power:

Again, the devil took (Jesus) to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” — Matthew 4:1-10

Whom do you serve, Mr. Graham?

I believe Franklin Graham and other religious leaders who bow before Trump should reread the teachings of our savior, Jesus Christ, and consider that rather than condemning the “enemies” of a political leader, Jesus spoke with love and compassion to common folk who did not share his beliefs or background.

People will not listen if you condemn their sins, Mr. Graham, while making excuses for the sins of your political god. Our country needs good men, like your father to call us to pray for God’s healing of our painful divisions, not someone who deepens the divide even between Christians who simply differ on political views.

We are all Americans. We are all children of God, loved equally no matter what our political or religious affiliations. I have hope for our great country, and so does the “bitter” Congressman Chuck Schumer, who at the end of his impeachment remarks quoted Amos 5:24: “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.


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