News headlines referring to Franklin Graham asking Christians to vote for the “least heathen” candidate are misleading and mistakingly portray the message Graham is giving in each state capital on his Decision America Tour.
Overlooking his message of goodwill, news outlets from PJMedia to Charisma News are printing a quote that Graham apparently did not make.
The CBN headline that every news site is citing– “Franklin Graham: You Must Vote for the ‘Least of the Two Heathen'”— is bizarre. In both CBN videos posted online under that very heading, the word “heathen” is never spoken. Not even once.
Where is anyone getting the idea that Graham said anything about heathens? Is this an editorial mistake?
Instead, what Graham is seeking to accomplish is quite revolutionary, and extends beyond voting.
Franklin Graham is the son of evangelist Rev. Billy Graham and is the President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He is definitely urging Christians to vote in November. He’s also encouraging Christians to get involved in politics. In the CBN interview, he remarks:
Our country is broken. The Democratic Party is broken. The Republican Party is broken. And there are people who want to change the Constitution. And that will happen if the Christians don’t let their voice be heard.
“There is strong movement in this country among the left; there’s a rift in the evangelical community who are telling people, ‘If so-and-so wins or this person wins don’t vote.’ I don’t care who wins and who’s out there, you have to vote.”
But Graham is advocating much more than voting.
What America needs, he argues, exceeds beyond what any political party or politician could provide. In fact, Graham said, “I have no hope in either party [Republican and Democratic Parties].”
Instead, Graham emphasizes God, not politics, not political parties, not politicians, not voting, and certainly not heathens.
Graham emphasizes that America is spiritually and morally broken and needs to turn to God. From the capital steps at each of the 50 state capitals, Graham prays and urges Christians to confess their individual sins and the sins of the nation. Throughout his talks and interviews he emphasizes the necessity of prayer and the need for God’s favor.
The Decision America Tour‘s key message is to “challenge Christians to live out their faith at home, in public, and at the ballot box,” and to share the Gospel. It also includes a pledge that Christians can sign, to God and to restoring America. The pledge emphasizes two scripture verses. One from the New Testament (1 Cor. 3:11), and one from the Old Testament, 2 Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.“
Graham argues that “America is at a moral tipping point” and hopes the tour will lead to:
- Godly men and women running for office across this country in every election;
- Christians getting out to vote; and
- Hopefully America will have a strong president.
Last year, Graham encouraged “Christians to get out and vote, and to cast their ballots for candidates who uphold biblical principles.” This year, it’s being reported that Graham is telling Christians to vote for the “least heathen.”
That’s not what he’s suggesting.
Graham isn’t asking Christians to stop voting for godly candidates, he’s still asking Christians to vote, to fulfill their civic duty.
He’s also asking them to do more than vote.
Graham’s encouraging and reminding Christians to live out their faith in public. This includes running for office, holding corrupt politicians accountable, suggesting reforms and alternatives to harmful policies, boycotting unconstitutional laws and regulations, and speaking truth in a culture that hates it. Christians living out their faith also involves pastors running for office, encouraging their congregants to run for office, and befriending and ministering to “heathen” candidates.
Graham is boldly articulating that Christians have a much greater responsibility than voting or politics. Genuine Christian faith transcends “politics.” It seeks to inform and influence all areas of life to encourage human flourishing and share the person and work of Jesus Christ.
March 18, 2016