Christian evangelist Franklin Graham is off and running on his 50 state “Decision America 2016” tour.
His first stop was the steps of the State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday, less than a month before the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses are held on February 1.
An enthusiastic flag-waving crowd of 2,600 endured 30-degree weather to hear the 63-year-old head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association encourage Christians to engage in the political process by voting and running for office in 2016.
“I’m encouraged that you care so much about your state and your country to come out today,” Graham told the crowd.
“My father extends his greetings to you. He’s 97-years-old and his ministry now is limited to prayer,” Graham said of his father, Billy Graham, the most renowned Christian evangelical preacher of the last seven decades.
“We understand that our country is in trouble. It’s in big time trouble,” Graham began.
“We’re in trouble spiritually. We’re in trouble economically. We’re in trouble racially. The racial divide today… we’re going backwards we’re not going forward,” Graham added.
Graham had little good to say about either major political party.
“No political party,” Graham said, offers a solution to the nation’s troubles. “I have no hope in the Democratic Party. I have zero hope in the Republican Party. . .My only hope is in the body of Christ.”
Graham quit the Republican Party very publicly in December when it refused to end the funding of Planned Parenthood, the nationwide non-profit organization where “family planning” is simply a code word for abortions.
“The moral and political walls of our country are crumbling,” he said at today’s rally in Des Moines.
“Our educators and our politicians and our churches seem many times to be more concerned about political correctness than god’s truth and righteousness,” Graham said.
Graham focused on two public policy issues specifically: abortion and same sex marriage.
“Growing up, at least my generation, we lived under the ‘Red Threat.’ The Russians were coming, right? We were prepared for it.
“Finally, the Cold War came to an end,” Graham said, and “we won.”
“We began to sigh a sigh of relief. While we were taking that sigh of relief, secularism crept into our federal government. It crept into our state government. It crept into local government.”
“Secularism and communism, there’s no difference. They’re both Godless,” Graham emphasized.
“What’s happened is Godlessness has come into this nation of ours, whose foundation was built on Biblical principles. The secularists want to take God out of our society.”
“I’m here to say, I’m not going without a fight,” Graham declared. It’s a declaration of words he indicates he is more than willing to back up with action.
“The most important thing we can do as Christians is pray,” Graham said, but he was quick to add a prescription for current political involvement at every level.
“Be willing this next election to vote. Vote for candidates who stand for Biblical principles,” Graham implored.
Graham added that he was not going to ask those in the audience to vote for a particular candidate, but instead to vote for the candidate who, in their estimation, comes closest to following Biblical principles.
“When my father went to school, the Ten Commandments were on the wall of the school. Every morning, they said the Pledge of Allegiance. Many schools don’t do that any more,” Graham noted in sorrow.
As if to emphasize Graham’s point, a New Jersey school recently decided that students there will no longer recite “God Bless America.”
“Unless America turns back to God and repents of its sin and experiences a spiritual revival, we will fail as a nation,” he added.
“Our job as Christians is to make the impact of Christ felt in every phase of life—religious, social, economic, and political,” Graham continued.
“The choice [of candidate to vote for] may not always be clear,” Graham noted. “You may have to choose the one who most closely follows Biblical principles.”
“We talk about national elections, but local elections–mayors, city councils, county commissioners, judges, school boards” are also very important. “How important it is for Christians to run for school boards,” Graham said.
“Begin by forming prayer groups….Begin to pray for your community. Bring people into your prayer group who may be of different political persuasions,” Graham advised.
“Look for Christians you can persuade to run for various positions in your community, then get behind them.”
“It is estimated in the last elections 20 to 30 million evangelical Christians did not vote.”
That lack of civic engagement, advanced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by several prominent Christian leaders, chief among them David Lipscomb, is a policy Graham rejects.
“Don’t tell me your vote doesn’t count,” Graham said, then cited several races that were decided by a handful of votes.
“If every one of you votes, you go back and get your family to vote, get your church to vote.”
“We need to get Godly men and women to vote and run for office.”
“I want you to join me in signing a pledge to God and our country. America needs you. God needs you.”
“I would like you to sign this pledge and get 10 others to sign with you.”
The full pledge reads:
My Pledge to God
1. I pledge to honor God at home—by living biblical principles, striving for purity in or out of marriage, and pursuing godliness in all my relationships.
Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; Romans 12:10; John 13:34
2. I pledge to honor God in public—by standing for biblical principles and serving those in need.
James 1:27; Isaiah 58:10; 1 Corinthians 16:13
3. I pledge to honor God with my vote—supporting, where possible, candidates who will uphold biblical principles, including the sanctity of life and the sacredness of marriage.
Proverbs 14:34; Psalm 139:13; Matthew 19:4–6
My Pledge to My Country
1. I pledge to pray fervently and faithfully for America.
2. I pledge to be registered and to vote in every election—local, state, and federal—supporting, where possible, candidates who uphold biblical principles.
3. I pledge to engage in my community with God’s truth and prayerfully consider running for office.
“Our country’s in trouble, but we’ve got a great God, an awesome God,” Graham added optimistically.
Graham also offered one tongue-in-cheek piece of advice on dealing with people who are antagonistic to the Christian world view when asking those in their spheres of influence to vote.
“If these are people that hate God, tell them, forget it,” Graham joked.
“Let’s elect men and women in office who lead this nation back to one nation under God,” Graham concluded.
By the end of the year, Graham will visit all 50 states to deliver the same message. Over the next three months, Graham will visit state capitols in 12 more states:
Tallahassee, Florida – January 12
Baton Rouge, Louisiana – January 13
Concord, New Hampshire – January 19
Columbia, South Carolina – February 9
Atlanta, Georgia – February 10
Honolulu, Hawaii – February 24
Denver, Colorado – March 15
Santa Fe, New Mexico – March 16
Phoenix, Arizona – March 18
Salt Lake City, Utah – March 29
Carson City, Nevada – March 30
Sacramento, California – March 31
Graham’s theme is consistent with a recent Breitbart News article, which called for a “back to basics” movement to restore belief in the six principle ideas that led to the dominance of Western Civilization:
What is needed to reverse [the decline of Western Civilization and the United States] is a very focused “back to basics” movement to restore belief in these six principal ideas – Christianity, optimism, science, economic growth, classical liberalism (in its political expression of constitutional liberty and its economic expression of free markets) and individualism – and more importantly, the transfer of belief in these six principal ideas to subsequent generations.
Graham has previously written of a need for a “Great Awakening” similar to the one that swept the country at the beginning of the nineteenth century:
While doomsday appears to be knocking at our door, let me take you back to the early 1800s. Many think of it as “the good old days,” but history tells us that society, even then, was as bad as it could get at that time. John Marshall, chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, wrote to President James Madison and said, “The church is too far gone ever to be redeemed.” When we examine why, we find that preachers had stopped preaching the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the people were not hearing God’s Word.
What changed? Christians began to diligently pray for revival—and the result was the Second Great Awakening. When people’s prayers stormed the heavens, and when the Bible was opened in the pulpits and the Word of God proclaimed by passionate preachers, the church was awakened from slumber by the Holy Spirit, who moved in hearts, spreading revival throughout the heartland of America…
Our hope and desire—and our prayer—here at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is to stir up followers of Jesus Christ to pray and ask for a great awakening of the church.
Graham’s upbeat, pro-Christian message was belittled in the Des Moines Register, the local daily newspaper owned by left wing media giant Gannett even before he delivered it.
The paper ran a snarky, sophomoric column from Dartmouth professor of religion Randall Balmer on Tuesday morning, hours before Graham’s rally, which posed this question in its title: “What ‘biblical values’ will Graham share?”
“Taking a page from Jerry Falwell’s playbook, Franklin Graham embarks this week on a tour of all 50 state capitals in an effort to encourage evangelicals to be politically active; he opens in Des Moines on Tuesday. In the run up to the 1980 presidential election, Falwell conducted rallies at state capitals throughout the nation in what emerged as the first public rumblings of the Religious Right. Now, more than three decades later, Franklin Graham wants to do the same,” Balmer wrote.
As a point of historical fact, Balmer’s characterization is incorrect. Falwell’s Moral Majority explicitly endorsed Republican candidate Ronald Reagan, while Graham made it clear he is not endorsing any particular candidate or party.
“I’m curious to see what ‘biblical values’ Graham will emphasize in the course of his 50-state excursion,” Balmer continued.
Balmer then advanced the far-left pro-amnesty position embraced by the George Soros funded Evangelical Immigration Table.
“First, and most obviously, Graham will call for a more humane immigration policy, one that honors the command of Jesus to ‘welcome the stranger.’” Balmer wrote.
Then Balmer advanced the anti-worker “social justice” call for a minimum wage increase.
“The prophet Malachi condemns ‘those who defraud laborers of their wages,’ so I expect that Graham will offer a plan to raise the minimum wage, limit outsourcing and ensure that imports to the United States are produced by workers receiving a fair wage,” Balmer continued.
Balmer also attempted to cloak several additional left-wing anti-conservative, anti-limited government policies as consistent with “Biblical values,” assertions the majority of believing Christians vigorously dispute.
Among Balmer’s targets: “the Supreme Court’s calamitous Citizens United decision,” Donald Trump’s divorces, and policies that fail to “offer a comprehensive program for environmental protection, including measures to counteract the devastating effects of climate change.”
In short, Balmer’s column offers excellent evidence why Graham’s 50 state tour in 2016 is likely to be very well received by Americans who are fed up with the supposed intellectual and moral superiority of those who run our government, the mainstream media, and academic institutions.