In the latest attempt by an evangelical Christian leader to explain the hypocrisy of his tribe supporting Donald Trump no matter how many awful things he does, evangelist Franklin Graham told Axios on HBO that Trump is a defender of the faith… even though he’s no one you would ever want in your church.
Now people say ‘Well Frank but how can you defend him, when he’s lived such a sordid life?’ I never said he was the best example of the Christian faith. He defends the faith. And I appreciate that very much.
What he means by that is that Trump is anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-intelligence. It’s all part of the white evangelical brand these days. If Trump gets people to say “Jesus Christ,” it’s only with a middle initial.
What Graham doesn’t say — but oozes in every interview he gives — is that being Christian no longer means defending people who are poor, disenfranchised, and fighting for a better life. Trump has preached white nationalism, surrounded himself with criminals, been exposed for having and covering up affairs he had after giving birth to his fifth kid from his third wife, ignored climate change, and torn kids apart from their parents.
All of that, apparently, is what it means to defend the faith if you’re a white evangelical Christian.
Graham blames “liberalism in churches” for the decline in church membership, but church membership has been declining in his own denomination for more than a decade. Maybe, just maybe, people like Graham defending the indefensible is why so many young people want little to do with his religion. They want to create a better world for everybody, and they know damn well that aligning with Graham means that goal can only be achieved at the expense of others’ suffering.
Graham also says he’s not worried about Christianity becoming intertwined with the Republican Party.
… I’m going to support politicians that are going to support the Christian faith whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, Independents. Politicians that are going to guarantee my freedom of worship. And I appreciate the president has appointed now two conservative judges that are going to defend religious freedom, so amen to that.
When Barack Obama was president, I don’t recall the government moving to shut down churches against their will. No Democrat has taken away his right to worship, yet you’ll never see Graham praising Democrats as much as he gushes over Trump.
He doesn’t actually care about religious freedom. He cares about white evangelical supremacy. In his view, that means women must be forced to give birth, transgender people don’t exist, and minority rights must be curtailed in order to preserve the status quo.
Trump has done for the Republican Party what Franklin Graham has done to his father’s last name: They’ve soiled it for an entire generation. Let’s hope people realize that in years to come.
By the way, this interview aired the same night Trump’s administration was gassing children who were legally seeking asylum in the U.S. Because that’s what Jesus would do.