”We know we are locked in a war against the Christian faith…”
These are the words of Franklin Graham (son of mega-evangelist Billy Graham) from his February 2014 article Ducking the Issue, which I can only describe as a battle cry for modern mainstream Christians to rise up and fight a new holy war of their own.
Using that week’s poster child of persecution for Biblically-backed intolerance as an example, Graham explains that the reason there was such backlash against the anti-gay and racially ignorant remarks made by Phil Robertson (of Duck Dynasty fame) was because “he brought them face to face with their sinful state.” Graham continues, “Christians and the Christian faith are under intense attack today,“ further claiming that the”worldly systems of politics, courts, entertainment and education can be instruments of devilish harm unless they are under the influence of Christian precepts and principles.”
It doesn’t take Graham long before he ramps up the all-too-familiar rhetoric of fear and persecution to assert,“the enemy of our souls is working his wicked schemes that seek to suppress and oppress believers,” going as far as to add a dramatic flair about the “rising tide of evil and iniquity that threatens to engulf our nation.” He then convicts his readers – challenging anyone who dares to call themselves Christians to stand up and fight against the “full-scale assault against Christianity and the followers of Christ.” (Of course, all of this amid apocalyptic ramblings about Satan becoming more fierce and controlling the liberal agenda because he knows he’ll be cast into a lake of fire soon, etc…)
Graham skillfully goes as far as to create a bizarre metaphor where homosexuals are apparently now the Nazis and if Christians don’t stand against them, it will lead to their own demise. To finish this point, he presents a poem attributed to Martin Niemöller, a German church leader who eventually stood against Hitler, “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
Wait just a second! Two people (complete strangers to Graham) are in love and, after living together for twenty years (in hiding, to avoid actual persecution) want to get married, and suddenly Graham’s fellow Christians are being marched to death camps? Talk about a persecution complex and dream of martyrdom!?!?
Here’s the problem – he’s not wrong (by Christian standards). I fully understand why Graham firmly believes that he is standing up for Christ by standing against homosexuals – much like opponents of the Civil Rights movement or Women’s Suffrage may have felt inspired to reaffirm oppression in the name of the Lord. In short, he has been taught that he’s always right. After all, he is holding the manual to life right there in his hand. This isn’t to say that Graham is distorting the Bible’s teaching. He is absolutely preaching according to his Word of God. But, isn’t that just one of the problems with basing your life on a book that also supports slavery, rape, genocide, and abandoning your family to follow Christ?
By now, it should be no surprise that Graham ends his inspirational draft speech by quoting the New Testament to his new recruits,
“Now is the time to be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – 1 Cor 16:13
Reminder To Christians: If you don’t want to be seen as one of the same hate-filled bigots that speaks on behalf of all Christians – it is your responsibility to stand against those who speak hatred on behalf of your chosen religion. Just like the Christians who used the Bible to oppose equal civil rights for people of different color or withholding the right to vote from those of a different gender, the Grahams will also find themselves on the wrong side of history – bringing shame not just on their family name, but on Christianity as a whole. In 50 years (hopefully much sooner), it will be Graham that the church apologizes for. Silence is agreement. Speak up.
It’s 2014. People are no longer willing to be oppressed by bronze-age scare tactics. You want a Holy War, Mr. Graham? Be careful what you wish for…
– Horus Gilgamesh
P.S. This illustration (along with a different commentary) can be found in Vol. #2 of our Awkward Moments (Not Found In Your Average) Children’s Bible series of books for adults.