Franklin Graham: BGEA Will Never Again Call Mormonism a "Cult"
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 07:46:39 AM EST
I thought I'd follow up on this, especially because my Alternet stories now dominate Google searches on the terms 'Billy Graham', 'Mormonism', 'cult'. Reports CNN's "belief" blog, Billy Graham's son Franklin Graham has promised that the Billy Graham Evangelical Association will never again label Mormonism a "cult".
Little more than two years have passed since the U.S. Army withdrew an invitation to Graham, to speak at the Pentagon, following objections from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation concerning Franklin Graham's past vilification of Islam, as an "evil" and "wicked" religion. Amidst the fallout of this more recent scandal, has Franklin Graham, long known as a danger-loving hothead who once shot down a tree with a machine gun mounted on the back of his pickup truck, decided to tack to the politic, inclusive, moderate evangelical center ? And, can we now also expect Graham to similarly dignify Islam, as a legitimate fellow faith to born-again evangelical Christianity? Or would that be a bridge too far?

With Mitt Romney's [failed] bid for the presidency now in the past, the most obvious reason for the BGEA's reclassification of Mormonism, as a legitimate religion rather than a cult, has disappeared. Franklin Graham has chosen to defy cynics who predicted that the BGEA would re-label Mormonism a "cult" as soon as it was political convenient to do so.

Reported CNN belief blog co-editors Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi,

"Graham didn't direct the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to remove its website's reference to Mormonism as a cult shortly before Election Day. But he agrees with the move. "I didn't even know it was there. We have like 10,000 pages on our website," Graham told us.

Graham said the reference isn't coming back to the site. "I don't want to be involved in calling people names," he told us. "I want to reach people for Christ, and how can I do that if I'm calling them a name? I don't even like the word cult; it sounds like dungeons and dragons or something." "

Graham's suggestion that the anti-Mormon page which labeled Mormonism a "cult", along with Scientology and the Unification Church, simply slipped through the cracks because there are "10,000 pages" on the BGEA website is hard to believe given that the anti-Mormon page in question was so high-profile - it was written in Billy Graham's name. Did an unnamed BGEA official write the page for Billy Graham and, if so, did Graham sign off on it ? And, if we are to believe Franklin Graham, who then is really in charge at the BGEA ?

Nonetheless, Graham's promise is a welcome step forward.

There are other notable details in the CNN report. Franklin Graham credits Billy Graham's politicking, through a 2000 Jacksonville, Florida news conference appearance with Franklin Graham, with tipping the 2000 election presidential to George W. Bush. Reports the CNN belief blog,

"Graham told a story about his father speaking at a 2000 news conference with George W. Bush in Jacksonville, Florida, on the Sunday before Election Day.  That year, after a protracted recount, Florida wound up determining the election's outcome for Bush.

"Now don't you think that was worth some votes in Florida," Graham asked, referring to his dad's appearance with Bush. "I think it probably... changed the outcome of the race. So my father has been involved in politics at different levels over the years, and so for him to be involved in these ads is not out of character." "

Franklin Graham's characterization seems a half-truth; it is certainly true, especially in his capacity as a leading member of "The Family"/"The Fellowship", that Billy Graham was intensely political, at least out of the public eye. But in the spotlight, Graham carefully positioned himself as a religious leader who stood above partisan politics.  

Many observers seemed surprised by the blatantly partisan BGEA-sponsored newspaper ads, signed by Billy Graham, that called on voters to support supposed "Biblical values" - notably opposition to gay marriage and legal abortion, days before the 2012 election. Billy Graham's personal endorsement of George W. Bush was one thing, but for the Grahams to throw the weight of the multimillion dollar tax-exempt BGEA behind Romney was quite another.

Evangelicals toward the fundamentalist part of the spectrum were especially scandalized by the BGEA's apparently politically driven decision to pull the BGEA page identifying Mormonism as a "cult". Franklin Graham's promise that the BGEA will never again stigmatize the Church of the Latter Day Saints in that manner seems to signal a return to the spirit of Billy Graham's studiously crafted image as a centrist who eschewed the theologically narrow animosity of Fundamentalism towards competing Christian sects - Graham established a reputation for being ecumenically inclusive, to the point of refusing to speak at religious events unless Catholic leaders were present.

So it would seem fitting that Graham's heir Franklin has deigned to let the Mormon Church into the club. After all, Mormonism now has almost as many adherents as does the Southern Baptist Convention. But, again, why was the offended BGEA page, that attacked Mormonism, on the BGEA website in the first place ? Perhaps the scandal, over the page and its removal, has taught Franklin Graham the essential wisdom of his father's approach.

Another intriguing aspect of Graham's CNN interview: while blaming the current economic downturn on an alleged America turn towards secularism, Franklin Graham took the notable position of neutrality on taxes and economic justice, telling CNN,

"When it comes to the taxes - whether you should tax the wealthy more or the poor more, I'm not into that," he said. "Let the politicians worry about that."

For such a high-profile evangelical leader such as Franklin Graham to demur on the question of taxes is no small thing.




Display:
can run a GOP candidate for president?

by Villabolo on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:13:50 PM EST


by Bruce Wilson on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:36:25 PM EST
Parent
run a candidate for the Democratic Party. They'll lose their exemption status. ;-)

by Villabolo on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:52:50 PM EST
Parent


... the JW's have traditionally stayed out of politics. But the Society could change that teaching with one issue of the Watchtower.

by COinMS on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 08:06:13 AM EST
Parent



WWW Talk To Action


The JFK Speech That Made Santorum Want to Throw-Up
On February 26, 2012, (when I first published this post), the heated GOP presidential primaries were getting hotter as the Christian Right sought to......
By Frederick Clarkson (9 comments)
The Religious Bigotry of Rick Santorum
Now that Rick Santorum has announced that he is running for president, again, it is worth reminding ourselves that he is a coarsely obvious......
By Frederick Clarkson (24 comments)
Thoughts on the Finale of the Finn Debacle
Now that Bishop Robert Finn has finally resigned his leadership of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri -- here are some final thoughts......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
DeVos and School Privatization Funders Backing Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral Candidate
The Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children (AFC) and its core funders have spent more than fifteen million dollars in Pennsylvania over the last......
By Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
Religious Right Rabbi: Christian Coalition Favorite Daniel Lapin Resurfaces
Back in the 1990s when I was regularly covering the antics of TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, one part of the job was......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Christian Right leaders escalate anti-LGBTQ threats
As marriage equality has advanced around the country, and the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the issue in June, threatening language......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Could Support for LGBTQ Rights Disrupt the Coalition of Jews and Evangelical Christian Zionists?
Some might say that the relationship between the conservative US Jewish community and Evangelicals is inviolable, with support for Israel being the cement that......
By Bill Berkowitz (1 comment)
Whine Festival: Second-Tier Religious Right Leaders Still Don't Like Marriage Equality
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in Obergefell v. Hodges, the marriage equality case.In preparation for this, a sad collection of......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Whither the Christian Right in the Democratic Party?
You don't have to be a Hillary hater (and I'm not) to recognize that Clinton and other Democratic Party leaders have had long and......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Bishop Robert Finn Resigns Leadership of St. Joseph-Kansas City Diocese
Bishop Robert W. Finn, the Opus Dei Bishop who was convicted by a Missouri court for failing to report suspected child abuse by a......
By Frank Cocozzelli (5 comments)
Two Overlooked Indiana Outcomes that Could Haunt the Christian Right
I think there are two underreported features of the fallout from Indiana that we should make sure do not get lost in the hoo......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Terms, Definitions & Glossaries for Writing about the Religious Right
One of the challenges in writing about the Religious Right and what to do about it is the matter of terms and definitions. That's......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
President Obama Can Help Stop Religious Discrimination
Barry Lynn, the longtime executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, recently posted an important essay at Huffington Post. In......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Marriage Matters: Thoughts On The Recent Unpleasantness In Indiana
Last week I taped an interview with Sister Maureen Fielder, host of "Interfaith Voices," a popular radio program exploring religious issues that is carried......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
The Campaign Against Pro-LGBTQ Denominations
The recent endorsement of marriage equality by the Presbyterian Church (USA) seemed like a good moment to discuss the campaign to divide and conquer......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)

Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (0 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (3 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (1 comment)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (5 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (2 comments)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.