God and government don’t mix

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Waddell: God and government don’t mix

Franklin Graham is coming to Augusta, and bringing his message of intolerance.

BY TOM WADDELL

Franklin Graham will be in Augusta with his “Decision America” campaign to encourage Christians to live for “God and his Word” on Tuesday, Aug. 23, in Capital Park at noon. The goals of Graham’s messianic and political tour are to encourage Christians to run for public office, to vote for candidates who uphold “biblical principles,” and to tell Christians they have a duty to vote even though neither presidential candidate has a strong biblical worldview.

Graham has stated that only God can turn this country around, but says voters may be forced to choose between “the lesser of two heathens.” He asserts, “We need men and women today in high places that will honor almighty God” and to “vote for candidates who stand for Biblical truth,” to make sure the country is governed exclusively by Christians as the Founding Fathers intended.

What Graham is really asking Christians to do is to elect fundamentalist Christians to interpret and run our secular government. Despite his claim that his nationwide event is not political, he routinely promotes the conservative positions of eliminating Obamacare, overturning Roe v. Wade, reversing the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage and limiting immigration for Muslims. He also instills an overwhelming fear of anyone who is not a white Christian at every rally. How is this not political?

Graham has repeatedly said the country is in trouble spiritually, economically and politically because we have become secular and have kicked God out of our schools, our courts and our local, state and federal governments. He has also compared secularism with Communism.

Graham has consistently stated that if the LGBT community wants to continue living the way they do, they will burn in hell for an eternity and that no gay person can be a true Christian. Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, said, “Contrary to Franklin Graham’s hysterical claims, the LGBT community is not a threat to the United States but his campaign to legislate religion-fostered discrimination is.”

Fortunately, Graham has been met at every rally by groups of loving, caring people who demonstrate true Christian values, something Graham does not. They show compassion for others, treat their neighbors as they treat themselves, offer a helping hand to those in need and accept others for who they are rather than judging them for not meeting arbitrary and unattainable moral goals.

Many Christian leaders oppose Graham. When his tour came to Madison, Wisconsin, Rev. Jonathan Grieser of Grace Episcopal Church protested the event and said, “We’re really trying to bear witness to a different vision for America.”

When the tour was in Honolulu, Canon Brian Grieves of the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii said, “My angst with Franklin Graham is not only that he is intolerant of Muslims, gays and women’s rights, he has also outrageously said President Obama is against Christ’s teachings and is under the influence of Islam. He has questioned whether Obama was born in the United States. He stirs up hatred and xenophobia by dispensing lies.”

Canon Grieves also notes, “We cannot be silent when we hear Christian teaching being distorted and dispensed to good people who deserve to hear the Gospel message of love. Rev. Franklin Graham’s stirring up of hate and discrimination towards Muslims, and his efforts to use religion as a political tool needs to be publicly rejected.”

Other Christian leaders have advised rally attendees not to believe what Franklin is saying because judging others, discrimination and intolerance are not Christian values.

FFRF Maine will be at Graham’s rally to peacefully and quietly demonstrate our opposition to the direction he wants Christians to take this country. Our goals are to make sure everyone knows the Constitution’s 1st Amendment requires that religion and government be separate and that there is no religious “litmus test” to hold public office, and to give non-believers in Maine a voice in opposing the excessive influence of evangelicals in our secular government.

Martin Luther King said, “Our lives end the day we become silent about things that matter,” and Bayard Rustin said, “The proof that one truly believes is in action.” If opposing the hate that Franklin Graham is spreading matters to you, I urge you to take action and join us to tell him there is no room for hate in Maine.

Tom Waddell is the president of the Maine chapter of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. He writes an occasional column on matters related to the separation of church and state.