Saturday, April 11, 2015

Shame on Franklin Graham

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”  Gandhi

The face of Gandhi in old age—smiling, wearing glasses, and with a white sash over his right shoulder

Franklin Graham. 

If you are a Christian, you probably feel pretty strongly one way or another about Franklin Graham.  Take his recent facebook rant:

Listen up--Blacks, Whites, Latinos, and everybody else. Most police shootings can be avoided. It comes down to respect for authority and obedience. If a police officer tells you to stop, you stop. If a police officer tells you to put your hands in the air, you put your hands in the air. If a police officer tells you to lay down face first with your hands behind your back, you lay down face first with your hands behind your back. It’s as simple as that. Even if you think the police officer is wrong—YOU OBEY. Parents, teach your children to respect and obey those in authority. Mr. President, this is a message our nation needs to hear, and they need to hear it from you. Some of the unnecessary shootings we have seen recently might have been avoided. The Bible says to submit to your leaders and those in authority “because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.” Hebrews 13:17

Truly spoken like a privileged white guy who doesn’t get pulled over for the color of his skin, the clothes he wears, the condition of his vehicle, the music he plays.  Spoken like a man who, if he ever was pulled over (or rather his driver) would feel nervous about keeping his hands in plain sight, about having to ask permission to reach into the glove box to get vehicle registration.  Spoken like a guy who has never had to live with racial bias or the threat of mistreatment by white police officers.  Spoken like a guy who probably doesn’t even know a Black person who has had to face an unjust system. 

It sounds like Franklin Graham believes that if you don’t want to shot by police, you should stop being Black.  

The mark of a good teacher, it seems to me, is the ability to empathize, to be able to put yourself in another's shoes, to see the world from another's perspective.  Entitled Franklin does not seem to have that ability.

Fascinating that Franklin says that we should obey authorities blindly, that unnecessary shootings could have been avoided by people (read: Blacks) simply laying face down on the pavement with their hands behind their backs would have avoided these horrifying events.  It is the Blacks fault because they didn’t obey.  Because they resisted.  Because they ran. 

They should simply OBEY.  And that Franklin invokes the B-I-B-L-E makes it the truth.  Because slinging the Bible around means you are speaking the WORD of GOD.  Right?  Because Franklin believes that FRANKLIN’S WORDS=GOD’S WORDS. 

That’s what Jesus did, right?  He blindly obeyed authority because it told him to in the B-I-B-L-E. (Hebrews is a New Testament book, which relied heavily on Old Testament quotes.) 


It was only because Jesus disobeyed the law that he demonstrated that he was greater then those laws.  He hung out with the unsavory, he interceded in the lawful stoning death of a woman accused of adultery (They were saying this, testing Him, so that they may have grounds for accusing Him.  But Jesus stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground.  But when they persisted in asking Him, he straightened up and said to them, He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."  John 8:7 ), he healed the sick on the Sabbath, he flipped over the tables of the money changers in the temple (And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, "It is written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER'; but you are making it a ROBBERS' DEN"   Matthew 21:12).  The authorities were ticked at all of these and many more of his actions and words that revealed them (and those laws) as hypocritical.  Good thing too.

Many other great leaders who knew that the way to change wrong practices, practices that defied logic and righteousness, was to stand up to authority.  Indeed that is how most of the greatest changes in our cultures have occurred – by standing up to injustice.  How about the Sons of Liberty and the American Revolution?  There was some disobedience there.  How about Gandhi and his salt march – the beginning of the end of Britain’s wrongful imperialistic rule over India?  Lots of disobedience.  How about those who opposed slavery?  It was completely legal at the time.  Martin Luther King Jr.?  Rosa Parks and the other strong, brave, beautiful Civil Rights leaders who led our country out of oppression of minorities?  (Not to say that the battle for a free and equal society is over).  If not for courageous, strong souls who stand up for injustice, there would effectively be no change. 


I remember Billy Graham.   He was my wife’s grandmother’s hero.  He was an evangelist too.  But he wasn’t just a Christian leader.  He was a Christ like leader.  Sadly, his son Franklin gives Christians a bad name.  Shame on him.


The Dashboard Poet said...

Tim, sorry I have not been very available lately. It was partly due to the passing of my friend, but I confess I've been in a deep blue funk lately. I tend to melancholy anyway, and this time it seems to have a pretty good hold on me. That being said, I want to thank you for your condolences.

Yours is a worthy blog post. In my 22 years with a large suburban department, I have seen good cops and bad cops. I have seen those who rigorously upheld an arrestees civil rights, and those who made a mockery of them. The up-armoring and militarizing of police work is frightening. "Officer Friendly" now wears a face mask, black jump suit with subdued patches (often with skulls, etc.) and fully automatic combat grade weapons. It seems we have fallen unwittingly into 1939 Berlin. I have no wisdom on the matter, but I do have a confession...under no circumstance would I again put on my uniform and walk out my front door. The profession not only embarrasses me, but it is a frightening thing to understand I may be shot only because I wore a badge. I honestly do not think there is remedy coming. I think we have collectively gone past the tipping point...but, maybe that's just the melancholy talking. I hope to God I am foolish and wrong. At any rate, I sleep with my 9mm in my night stand. A foolish caution from a foolish man? When I was a child, the night scared me. Now I am an aging man, and the night alarms me anew.

Where is Mayberry? I want to go there.

Cary said...

I don't know how Christlike contempt for Jews is:

Christ was not known to attack teh gays either:

I never trusted the guy.

Apologies for weighing in in a negative way when I haven't done so lately for the many positive and wonderful posts that you do. It's always a bright spot in my day to read your thoughtful wisdom and compassion here.

Sara Huizenga said...

Thank you - truly Franklin Graham is one of the worst things to ever happen to "Christianity".