The bad news: after Dr. Graham's recent remarks, I really needed the inspiration. He was asked in a recent interview whether he thought various presidential candidates (and current presidents) were Christian, and as usual his answer was just... *blech*. Honestly, the only thought going through my mind when reading his comments was something along the lines of "Christianity: you're doing it rong." I don't make a habit of speculating about the state of other peoples' salvation, so I'm not going to make the same move Dr. Graham did, but when it comes to the practice of Christianity, comments like this are so wrong they're physically painful for me.
Basically, Dr. Graham said that he couldn't be sure Obama was a Christian. That's an honest enough answer according to Christianity, actually. We're not supposed to be judging people in that regard, and it's not the kind of thing you can easily judge anyway. The problem is that Franklin then turns around and says he's sure that both Santorum and Gingrich are Christians.
Gingrich, the serial adulterer.
And Santorum, whose views on morality, authority, and rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's are frankly some of the most unbiblical I've ever seen. To say nothing of the utter disregard for imago dei on show when you compare gay sex to bestiality.
Aside from the lack of Christian charity evident in many of the GOP contenders' position, one thing that interested me is how sure Dr. Graham is that a Catholic is a Christian. This is by no means a settled question in this particular quarter of Christianity, and again by Dr. Graham's test of someone who grew up in a church family vs. someone who actively sought it out, Obama's biography makes it more likely he's a genuine Christian than does Santorum's.
That's all bad enough, but unfortunately it gets worse. Speaking of Muslims, he says, "All I know is under Obama, President Obama, the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries." The context in other accounts of the interview make it seem like Dr. Graham is actually suggesting that maybe the president is a Muslim, because he's looking out more for Muslims than he does for Christians. I don't agree with the statement that Muslims have gotten an easy go of it under Obama (look at how lukewarm his reaction has been to supporting Arab Spring protesters, for example; and it was George W. Bush who explicitly said he was not at war with Islam), but even if that had been the case, I'm more than a bit flabbergasted by Dr. Graham's position. Has he honestly forgotten the Biblical command to love our neighbors and even our enemy? Where there is suffering, my Christianity commands me to do what I can to ease it.
Look, I'm almost certainly not voting for Obama come November. I have no interest in the question of whether he's a Christian or not, first because in his speech and actions I see as much a reflection of Christian social justice and good works without parading about it that I see in any of the major politicians, and second because I don't need the president to share my religion. Give me a Muslim or an atheist or whatever president who respects the rule of law, who inspires and unifies America and has the courage to get things done - he'll have my vote. I prefer a president who is either active in some faith-community or its nonreligious equivalent, because I think being president is taxing emotionally and you need somewhere to turn for support as you bear up under it. But I don't need my president to go to the "right" church or say the right words.
What I do need is a bit of Christian charity when it comes to people whose faith doesn't take the exact form yours does. And a recognition that being a good Christian is about so much more than being good to Christians. On that count, Dr. Graham has failed miserably.
All of which makes me think that "doing it rong" thought wasn't too far off.