Let’s start giving credit where credit is due. Franklin Graham’s organization Samaritan’s Purse opened a sixty-eight-bed field hospital in New York City’s Central Park. To that, I say bravo. Samaritan’s Purse opening a field hospital is mirroring the compassion and bravery displayed by early Christians who took care of the sick and dying in previous plagues.
However, Graham taints this charitable act with an act of discrimination and oppression. Contractors and volunteers must sign a statement of faith. Let’s stop right there. The United States is home to thousands of Christian denominations. As the old saying goes, “Where two or three are gathered, there shall be a church split.” Even at our best, Christian adherents may only agree on the most basic of Christian doctrine. For example, most Christians can agree on the Nicaean Creed. Graham’s requirement to sign a statement of faith, indicating agreement with that statement, immediately excludes many Christians from helping. Graham’s statement of faith becomes even more troubling when you realize one of the required beliefs is that marriage is only between one man and one woman. This requirement means progressive Christians can’t help at the field hospital.
Graham has received criticism for this requirement. LGBTQ+ activists are protesting, and in typical Fundagelical response, Graham high-tailed it to Fox News to complain about “persecution.” He whined to Laura Ingraham that he was being persecuted for his religious beliefs. This kind of faux persecution is one of the many cons Fundagelical like to use to keep the gullible afraid of evil liberals and to toe the line.
It’s time we call this what it really is. It isn’t persecution. It’s a protest against discrimination and oppression. Fundagelicals have it easy here in the United States. Freedom of religion allows them to practice their beliefs unmolested by the government. Churches have a right to believe whatever they want and to put into practice those beliefs. However, if I question your doctrine, or I question your interpretation of the Bible, that’s not persecution. That’s doing theology. Jesus challenged the religious authorities of His day and their interpretations of the Old Testament. They responded by crucifying Him. Their act of religious oppression and murder is persecution. Do you see the difference?
Martin Luther questioned the theology and interpretation of Scripture of the Catholic Church in the 16th century, and the Religious establishment sought to arrest Luther. It was Luther who was persecuted for his religious belief, not the Catholic Church.
No one is asking for Franklin Graham to be arrested, beaten, or crucified. They are questioning his doctrine and interpretation of scripture. However, in his move to keep Fundagelical control over what is considered correct doctrine, Graham paints his critic as persecutors. He doesn’t engage and debate his interpretation, he attacks.
Graham isn’t being persecuted; he is being challenged on his act of discrimination. He isn’t being persecuted; he is being told by other Christians to stop oppressing people and acting unjustly. He isn’t being persecuted; he is being prophesied to. Like the Old Testament prophets critiqued religious leaders of ancient Israel, so modern-day prophets are critiquing Graham and his power structure.
Graham, playing to his Fundagelical audience, claims he’s not homophobic, just following the Bible. Graham’s homophobia is well known. In a 2014 interview, he accused the LGBTQ+ community of recruiting children and praised Vladimir Putin’s oppression against LGBTQ+ people in Russia.
Graham in the interview says,
Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue—protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda—Russia’s standard is higher than our own? In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues. Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.
Graham’s painting the LGBTQ+ community as child recruiters is a lie and homophobic. He merely repeats the same “save the children” rhetoric that has been around since Anita Bryant. There is no evidence that the LGBTQ+ community recruits or evidence that acceptance of LGBTQ+ people causes harm to children. This is the deliberate spreading of a lie. I guess Franklin forgot that Christians aren’t supposed to lie. When you deliberately attack and spread false information about the LGBTQ+ community, that is homophobia.
We need to stop allowing Fundagelicals to cry “persecution.” It is nothing more than an attempt to spread a false narrative that their particular brand of Christianity is the correct one. It destroys any chance at meaningful dialogue and helps them maintain power and control over those who would seek Christ. We need to call out their faux persecution complex and instead call it what is: a call to stop discriminating and oppressing others. It is a call to stop their practice of injustice.
I don’t know what your brand of Christianity believes, but my Progressive Christianity believes Jesus condemns any discrimination, oppression, and injustice.
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