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The good news is: today's undulating wave Google Doodle is beautiful in its simplicity. Something about the undulating wave (honoring Heinrich Hertz, the German physicist who was the first to transmit and receive radio waves) really struck my romantic fancy. Think of how many ways the radio-wave has influenced us all, and how easy it maks it to reach out to other humans and be connected across distances.

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.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 22nd, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC)
I do know that I do not have nearly the respect for the son that I did for the father.

Billy Graham visited presidents-- but it was regardless of party, and he never interjected himself into political races.

I think that's the most distasteful thing I see in the current conservative effort to blend politics and religion into some amorphous homogenic mass. The notion that if one doesn't toe the conservative Republican line, one can't be a genuine Christian I find both scary and offensive.

As well as more than a touch hypocritical.
Feb. 22nd, 2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
My relationship toward Franklin is... complicated. I'm from Boone, NC, where Samaritan's Purse is based and I actually worked for him for a few months after earning my undergrad degree. Both my parents worked for him as well, so I actually met Dr. Graham at company picnics and he said high when we bumped into each other around town. (To my dad, I mean, who regularly ghost-wrote for him for work.) So I feel like I know the man, and I actually do approve of many of the *things* he does to a point - it's the things he says that drive me crazy.

Part of what disturbed me so much is that even Billy refused to sit down with Obama while he was campaigning. (They did eventually meet, but not until 2010.) At the time that was attributed to poor health, but he did meet with McCain and I believe with Palin? It always felt like a snub to me. But yes, Franklin seems much more politicized than Billy ever was. There's a lot of Christians who aren't conservative, but even they fall into the trap - like one's politics is a litmus test for being a good Christian. I find I can respect many (not all) political positions if done with the right reasons and right rhetoric, though modern conservatism does make it hard to see a Christ-like spirit behind all the bile sometimes. :-S
Feb. 23rd, 2012 02:01 am (UTC)
The "doing it rong" is inherent to the line of questioning. This argument always loses me right in the beginning, straight out of the starting gate, when someone thinks to ask the question "are these candidates Christian?"

From where I'm sitting, that question should not even be asked at all. It smacks of making Christianity (whether properly practiced or not) a qualification for the Presidency, and . . . no.

I don't care whether it's an "official" thing or not. Franklin Graham has an enormous public platform, and his answers influence a hell of a lot of people just like actual policy. It is entirely irresponsible for anyone to ask him to weigh in on this question that should be meaningless, but, the minute it's asked of Graham, it gains weight.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 02:35 am (UTC)
In some ways, I can see religion being a pertinent factor. It's as least a big a demographic as race when determining if this guy is like me (and hence likely to have similar values). Thing is, to get that kind of meaning just being Christian (or any other major religion wouldn't do it). For instance, I'd gladly accept a Conservative or Modern Orthodox Jew as president but would have definite pause over, say, a Chabad - not because I'm anti-Orthodox per se, but because those extremely tied to their religion's traditions may be less open to compromise in other areas as well. I'd need to be convinced that wasn't a factor.

Just asking who's a Christian, though? It's pointless and pretty much guaranteed to all end in tears, because you're right, it becomes very much a way to beat down those that don't feel normal in a WASP-ish way. And anyone who's been reporting news for several years knows what answer Franklin's likely to give - it's about as close to shouting fire as you can get these days.

*le sigh*
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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