Ministers March for Justice ... Well, Some Ministers

Today a thousand ministers will march on Washington D.C., according to National Action Network, in order to amplify the fact that the Department of Justice, under Jeff Sessions, and the Trump Administration are undermining Dr. Martin Luther King's Dream: "We are marching to reaffirm that religious leaders will recommit to being at the forefront of social justice and civil rights." (link) Will self-professed "Christians" such as Franklin Graham (and Robert Jeffress, Robert Morris, Mike Huckabee, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Paula White, Ronnie Floyd, Jack Graham, Jentezen Franklin, David Jeremiah, James MacDonald, or James Robison) attend? They cannot attend: they affirm this administration of inequality.

The only act worse than committing evil is sanctifying evil, justifying evil and allowing evil to appear reasonable, acceptable, natural, and legitimate. When asked by a socio-religio professed believer to provide evidence that Franklin Graham is a corrupt religious fraud, full of greed, I provided the evidence. I then called upon the individual to respond and renounce the Christian legitimacy of Franklin Graham. Instead, the man defended and justified the sins of Franklin, and then launched into a defense of Franklin's anti-LGBTQ agenda as him "standing against sin." This man is just as evil for promoting evil. Men like him always find a way to justify sin, like Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his son Trey's latest exposed sin and overt hypocrisy, but to call out what they perceive as the sin of others.

Donald Trump pardoned the criminal racist Joe Arpaio and none of us among his detractors were surprised. When you pardon a racist, having just equivocated racist Alt-Right white supremacists with those who confront and fight against them, your true colors are on display for all to see. What is the response by the likes of Jerry Falwell, Jr., Franklin Graham, Mike Pence, Ben Carson, Gary Bauer, James Dobson, Ted Cruz, Paula White, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, David Jeremiah, Robert Morris, James Robison and other Religious Right supporters and defenders of racist Trump but further defense and support. Why?

The answer is simple: Trump is giving Religious Right bigots a platform that includes a public voice and special religious freedom rights. The Evangelical Political Machine, continuously defended by the likes of Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr., is well-oiled, and well-funded by conservative evangelical Christians. But this well-oiled Machine is not Christian. Sure, the members keeping this destructive device moving call themselves Christians and believe that Trump and all involved are God-ordained, but evidence of Christ's presence is borne out in the words and actions of His true followers. For Religious Right advocates to baptize the entire context of Trump is to name evil "good" and good as "evil." (Isa. 5:20) His Religious Right defenders have yet to correct Trump's immorality.



But how can they, since many of them have yet to correct their own sinful, greedy behavior? They certainly cannot help Trump with the 2 x 4 lodged in his eye when they themselves have a telephone pole stuck in theirs. (Matt. 7:3) Franklin Graham, for yet another example, calls on football coaches to break the law regarding legislation about coaches praying on the field after football games. (More on this below.) What he and the Religious Right want is a theocracy. They want evangelical Christians to make laws, to make this a Christian nation, while atheists, LGBTQ people, and anyone else opposed to evangelical leaders remain closed-mouthed and closeted. This corruption and toxicity must be resisted at all cost!

Of course, Franklin Graham calls out "progressive activist judges" who rendered the verdict against coach Joe Kennedy, who lost his lawsuit in suing the school district, in his appeal. The unanimous decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which respects the Establishment Clause, was written by a conservative judge, Milan Smith, appointed by Republican and Religious-Right-approved President George W. Bush. So Franklin Graham is either sorely misinformed (read: naïve and utterly ignorant) or he is overtly lying.



The football coach was warned several times about leading prayers directly after a football game but he refused to heed those warnings. What is wrong, you may ask, with a coach wanting to lead his team in prayer after a game? Hemant Mehta helps us understand:
[W]hat Graham is suggesting is illegal for a reason. A public school football coach is still a government employee after the game ends. They still have to run post-game meetings with players and the staff, do media interviews, file paperwork, etc. When coaches -- in that capacity -- pray on the field, they're sending the message that athletes should do the same if they want to curry favor with them [the coaches]. A good relationship with the coach could mean more playing time or more attention in practice, which could lead to better opportunities (including scholarships). Imagine being an athlete who doesn't join the coach's prayer circle. Or who speaks out against it. What does that do for team morale?
But Franklin Graham frames this narrative as further persecution -- and the Religious Right are famous for lodging this narrative in the minds of evangelicals and the media. They think they are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. But the government is not against prayer. Anyone can pray privately at any time he or she deems desirable. Hemant writes:
More importantly, Graham is telling these coaches to turn a football game that's supposed to be all about the students into a spectacle all about them [the coaches and their fanatical Religious Right followers and right-wing agenda]. He might respond [that] it's all about Jesus, but that's bullshit. Coaches could pray in their minds all day long. The government's not going to come after them if they privately pray at halftime. But this is about taking a game meant to showcase the students' hard work and turning it into church. (link)
But a toxic religious fanatic like Franklin Graham does not care about the repercussions; he only cares about his right-wing agenda. This is not about Jesus but about politics! The fact that Franklin fails to understand this base fact informs us that his religion is his politics. Franklin Graham's religion is so wrapped up in Republican identity politics that the two are indistinguishable. Jesus, then, is a Republican. This renders Franklin Graham an idolater.



Hemant then, rightly again, states: "Maybe Graham should open that Bible he claims to love and check out Matthew 6:5-6: 'And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues [or on the football fields or at political inaugurations and in public places] and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.'" Jesus Himself declares Franklin Graham and his ilk religious frauds. The problem is that most Christians are too timid to declare this tragic reality.

Franklin Graham is not alone, of course, as the likes of Jerry Falwell, Jr., his late father Jerry Fawell -- who originated the Religious Right based on segregation and not the pro-life (in reality, the pro-birth) issue -- and Pat Robertson (and his sidekick Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's many lawyers and cheerleaders). Former Religious Right advocate Cal Thomas exposed Pat Robertson as a liar and, in my opinion, another religious fraud. Cal recalls when Pat Robertson sent out a letter "that claimed an associate reported to him that God had told the associate He wanted Pat to help usher in the Second Coming." But, in order to accomplish this, the "recipient of the letter was asked to send in money to keep Robertson's Middle East radio station on the air so that Jews would come to believe in Christ and prophecy could be fulfilled, hastening the Messiah's return."1 Christ did not return. So that entire money-making "prophecy-scheme" was a greedy and Christ-dishonoring lie.



A year later, having left the Moral Majority, Cal mentioned this letter on an ABC News special report hosted by Ted Koppel. Pat Robertson was outraged and wrote Cal insisting that he told "a deliberate falsehood." Cal then produced the letter! Pat then deflected and said that the letter was not "meant to be taken literally."2 Pat Robertson is a liar and a religious fraud. But, still, the base for apostates like Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, Jim Bakker (who, if Trump is impeached, calls for a holy civil war) and Donald Trump, and whoever else fits the mold no matter his politics or religion, will always defend their favored leader and their political party, no matter what evil they commit or promote.

This is the toxic mind of too many within the context of the Religious Right: both evangelical leaders and their willing followers. All that matters, truly, is that their agenda forges on. I will expose this corruption as long as I can; and I will call others to resist this agenda and to call it for what it is in reality: toxic and corrupt. Evangelicals: Repent!

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1 Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 55.

2 Ibid.

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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.