How Evangelical Leaders Bully the Christian Vote

For anyone who knows me, they know that this past Spring, I intended to vote for Donald Trump. The only reason was because I had bought into some conspiracy theories -- theories against Hillary Clinton, theories about the Illuminati, boogeyman theories -- and by the beginning of Summer I had by myself debunked the main core of those fear-inducing theories. I did not want Trump. I have never liked Trump. I think Trump is the worst candidate this nation has ever promoted. That the GOP chose this man, in lieu of taking a bolder stand, speaks volumes -- volumes that will never speak for me. But he was the only viable candidate who could stop the conspiratorial portrayal of Hillary Clinton I had received. I confess that I am very embarrassed to have supported Donald Trump for even a day -- even a minute.

Consider this as well: For nearly the last 21 years of my life I have been deceived by conservative evangelicals into thinking that a Republican vote is the only "Christian vote." (There is no such thing as a "Christian vote." Christians do not all agree politically. When a Christian votes, that vote is a Christian vote, regardless of the candidate. Any other view is merely overt manipulation.) Franklin Graham implicitly states as much when he recently uttered these words: The enemies of America are "godless [secularists]," i.e., non-Christians, and those who "call themselves progressives." (link) He further states:
The enemy is not the British today, but godless secularism and people who call themselves progressives [that includes progressive Christians, by the way] who are undermining the morals and the God-given biblical foundation that our Founding Fathers gave this nation. These foundations are under attack, and the election coming up is so critical for America's future. (link) (emphasis added)
Let me commit to a proper interpretation for the words "the morals and the God-given biblical foundation that our Founding Fathers gave this nation" for you: "the morals" is a reference to all-things heteronormative: he is anti-LGBTQ and anti-equality regarding same-gendered marriage; the "God-given biblical foundation" that our founding fathers gave this nation, many whom were nominally Christian at best, refers to the Judeo-Christian heritage of religious freedom, religious rights, and a freedom from the tyranny of government infringing upon the rights of religious-minded people. Odd, though, how the likes of Graham want the Christian religion to influence politics and government but they in no uncertain terms want (Democratic) politics and government influencing Christians.

Franklin Graham is among those conservative evangelicals who are cowardice to endorse (and admit that they will vote for) Donald Trump but who, nonetheless, make all too clear in their statements exactly who they are actually endorsing. Though tragic, in my opinion, at least Jerry Falwell, Jr., Gary Bauer, Eric Metaxes and their ilk maintain the gumption to admit their endorsement of Donald J. Trump. Instead, Franklin Graham hides behind a nameless and shadow narrative -- clearly referencing Hillary Clinton yet refusing like a coward to name her name (link) -- all the while insisting that the so-called biblical decision for the 2016 election is clear: his name that shall not be named is the only "biblical" option for us.

If I were Franklin Graham, I would be far more worried about my salary, taking in nearly a million dollars per year from Samaritan's Purse (link) -- you know, the humanitarian aid organization that is supposed to help the needy -- as well as from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. One wonders why Franklin needs such a posh lifestyle for helping the needy and those he seeks to "evangelize." I have not been shy from displaying my disgust of such religious hypocrites -- hypocrites with multi-million dollar salaries they make from "the Gospel" -- conservative evangelical hypocrites like Creflo Dollar ($27m), Charles Stanley ($73m), R.C. Sproul ($2m), Joseph Prince ($44m), Kirk Cameron ($20m), Kenneth Copeland ($760m), Pat Robertson ($100m), Benny Hinn ($42m), Billy Graham ($25m), and T.D. Jakes ($150m). The so-called Gospel of Jesus Christ is a multi-million-dollar income for many evangelical preachers; and these same preachers spiritually and emotionally and psychologically manipulate their followers politically.



Conservative evangelical men like Franklin Graham are spiritual bullies. Graham and his ilk manipulate "the Christian vote" by framing the entire issue of the election on one issue alone: abortion. So, if you vote for Hillary Clinton, you are murdering infants in the womb. Tell me, Franklin Graham, when you voted twice for Ronald Reagan, at least once for George H.W. Bush, and twice for George W. Bush, how many infants are you guilty of murdering, since under 20 years of Republican leadership, at least 25 million babies were aborted? Twenty years of Republican leadership and Roe v Wade was not overturned.

For nearly 21 years I was taught that voting Republican was my duty as a born again Christian. That is called spiritual, emotional, and psychological manipulation. We know from history that the religious conservatism that aligned itself with the Republican party was accomplished not on the grounds of abortion but on segregation! (link) Racist so-called evangelicals wanted white children to attend their own schools and churches and other social activities. White Republican Southern Baptist evangelicals were the ones oppressing this nation; and the late Jerry Falwell even admitted as much. (link) Southern Baptists did not even "repent" of their racism formally until 2014. (link) Let this sink in deep into your mind.

Though the Religious Right failed in its efforts in the 1970s and 1980s, as noted by former Religious Right individuals Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson1, Moral Majority-oriented evangelicals are still spreading their propaganda as though a nation can be converted to Christ through political means. Their main cause is now abortion: abortion must be outlawed and women who have abortions must be punished as criminals (Donald Trump now, conveniently, agrees; though he was pro-choice in years past (link), and changed his opinion on this subject five different times in three days (link), which should be telling -- he is playing evangelicals like fools). When the racist narrative did not sell in some Christian circles, the Religious Right sought another platform, and that platform was abortion. Randall Balmer, for Politico, reports:
This myth of origins [being predicated on abortion] is oft repeated by the movement's leaders. In his 2005 book, Jerry Falwell, the firebrand fundamentalist preacher, recounts his distress upon reading about the ruling in the Jan. 23, 1973, edition of the Lynchburg News: "I sat there staring at the Roe v. Wade story," Falwell writes, "growing more and more fearful of the consequences of the Supreme Court's act and wondering why so few voices had been raised against it." Evangelicals, he decided, needed to organize. Some of these anti-Roe crusaders even went so far as to call themselves "new abolitionists," invoking their antebellum predecessors who had fought to eradicate slavery.

But the abortion myth quickly collapses under historical scrutiny. In fact, it wasn't until 1979 -- a full six years after Roe -- that evangelical leaders, at the behest of conservative activist Paul Weyrich, seized on abortion not for moral reasons, but as a rallying-cry to deny President Jimmy Carter a second term. Why? Because the anti-abortion crusade was more palatable than the religious right's real motive: protecting segregated schools. So much for the new abolitionism. (link)
What this demonstrates is how corrupt and compromised conservative evangelicalism has been for decades. Racist evangelical leaders, under the guise of protecting the unborn, have manipulated Christians into thinking that a Republican vote is a Christian vote -- and that same sentiment is still being used today even if many evangelicals are no longer racist. I, for one, will not be bullied by evangelicals. Former Religious Right and Moral Majority leaders Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson learned the hard way, through utter failure, that they were "unable to redirect a nation from the top down. Real change must come from the bottom up or, better yet, from the inside out."2 Corrupt and manipulative bullies like Franklin Graham have yet to learn this hard yet reality-based lesson. My vote is for Hillary Clinton. I will give my many reasons for this eager, wholehearted, and anxious-to-vote choice in the following post.

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1 "Two decades after conservative Christians charged into the political arena, bringing new voters and millions of [wasted] dollars with them in hopes of transforming the culture through political power, it must now be acknowledged that we have failed." Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, Blinded By Might: Can the Religious Right Save America? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 23.

2 Ibid.

ABOUT WILLIAM BIRCH

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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.