Touch Not the Evangelical Sacred Cow

I recall well when spiritual huckster Benny Hinn was called to account for his views, his finances, and his operations with devastatingly crippled and handicapped individuals seeking healing who were turned away from his healing crusades.1 "Touch not God's anointed" came the reply. Benny Hinn even stated that, when a person "touches" God's anointed -- i.e., criticizes or critiques any so-called minister of God -- then sickness comes upon such a person. (mark 0:40-1:07) Never mind that sickness has never visited many, many, many critics of God's so-imagined "anointed." What have evangelicals taught us?

Primarily, evangelicals have taught us that they maintain a low view of Scripture, and a low view of Christ. Anyone even remotely familiar with the Internet understands how to look up Hebrew and Greek words from the Bible without having learned those languages in college or seminary. A quick glance at the BibleHub site, using its Lexicon and choosing Hebrew, and then searching for the Bible quote in question (Ps. 105:15) grants us the privilege of looking up the reference to the English-translated word "touch." This Hebrew word, naga`, refers to physical violence. (link) Hence Benny Hinn and his ilk are abusing the scriptures in order to deflect from being held accountable for their actions.

Those who critique men and women like Benny Hinn actually propagate a high view of Scripture because they refuse to allow hucksters to misuse and abuse the scriptures to their own perverse advantage. Those who critique men and women like Benny Hinn also maintain a high view of Christ because they realize and acclaim that our actions, choices, and communication reflects how others view God. Anyone who imagines him- or herself above accountability, and appeals to Scripture or to being God's so-called anointed in order to avoid being questioned or scrutinized, is a rightful suspect for inappropriate and unChristian behavior.

Secondarily, evangelicals have taught us that evangelicals and evangelical leaders are not to be questioned, criticized, or critiqued. Their leaders -- or at least the ones evangelicals dub as the "Christian" royale -- are sacred cows to be defended at all cost. At best, do not criticize one among these "Christian" royale, for fear of God's judgment. Let me grant you a disturbing example.

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: DECISION AMERICA TOUR 2016

A meme has been viewed on Facebook lately warning people to think seriously about the relief organizations to which they donate. (link) Among the top-tier of organizations criticized, due to a particular CEO gaining a six-figure annual income, includes The American Red Cross, March of Dimes, and The United Way. The CEO with the highest annual income from these three relief aid organizations is Marsha J. Evans of The American Red Cross ($651,957). But there is a Christian relief aid that is not listed on this meme whose CEO receives an equally-perverse annual income: Samaritan's Purse's Franklin Graham.

So I write the following message in the comments section of the thread on Facebook containing the meme: "Add to that list Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse: his take-home salary from Samaritan's Purse is $622,000; and his take-home pay from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is $258,000. [link] I think Franklin Graham has some issues, don't you?" What response did I receive? you ask. I received silence -- the sound of crickets -- a non-response that is as much a loud response as one might expect from evangelicals who care only about protecting their sacred cows. What message does this send?

What I am gradually learning from conservative evangelical Christians is that truth only matters when it's convenient for their agenda. Former Religious Right advocates Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, who expose the failed agenda of the Religious Right and the Moral Majority in their book Blinded By Might, suggest, after much reflection, that perhaps "the time has come for people to withhold their monies from national organizations and invest it in their own communities to deal with the real issues around them."2 This would include Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse. Our authors also write:
Any organization that raises money for a specific cause and then gives only a small percentage to that cause while using the rest for overhead (salaries, postage, advertising, radio and television air time) does not deserve my money. Ask every organization that seeks your support what percentage of the money you give actually goes directly to the cause.3
Is Samaritan's Purse a good relief organization? Yes, actually, as the organization receives high marks for accountability, financial transparency, given that 88.3% of monies collected is distributed to its various relief-related causes (based on a 2014 rating from Charity Navigator). In 2009, Franklin Graham was embarrassed at his high annual income. In 2010 he received no income from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. But, by 2011 Franklin once again began receiving a large annual income, and in 2015 his posh income once again raised eyebrows.

My point is simple: evangelicals and their leaders should not be given a pass -- ever. As a matter of fact, they should be held to an even higher standard than all others, given their representation of Christ in the world. (2 Cor. 5:20) If the annual income of Marsha Evans of The American Red Cross is troubling to donators, and they think the organization should be boycotted, then so, too, should Samaritan's Purse, given the perverse annual income of the evangelical sacred cow Franklin Graham. (Mind you, Samaritan's Purse also maintains a board of advisors, etc., and they also receive annual incomes, and hence your donations also fund several salaries and not merely that of wealthy Franklin Graham.) Evangelicals must rid themselves of their idols. God is a jealous God.

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1 Greg Locke, Blinded by Benny (Murfreesboro: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 2005), 31.

2 Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, Blinded By Might: Can the Religious Right Save America? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 57. The answer to their subtitle is a loud and resounding no.

3 Ibid.