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Commentary by Bruce Ray, Pastor

On October 11, 93-year-old Rev. Billy Graham and his son, Franklin Graham, met with candidate Mitt Romney at Graham’s North Carolina mountain home.  Following the meeting, Rev. Graham issued the following statement, posted on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association web site.

“It was an honor to meet and host Gov. Romney in my home today, especially since I knew his late father former Michigan Gov. George Romney, whom I considered a friend. I have followed Mitt Romney’s career in business, the Olympic Games, as governor of Massachusetts and, of course, as a candidate for president of the United States.

“What impresses me even more than Gov. Romney’s successful career are his values and strong moral convictions. I appreciate his faithful commitment to his impressive family, particularly his wife Ann of 43 years and his five married sons.

“It was a privilege to pray with Gov. Romney—for his family and our country. I will turn 94 the day after the upcoming election, and I believe America is at a crossroads. I hope millions of Americans will join me in praying for our nation and to vote for candidates who will support the biblical definition of marriage, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms.”

A week later, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association took out full page ads in national newspapers and papers in battleground states which read, “I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman,”

While I respect Rev. Graham’s right to express his opinion and respect his storied career, I am deeply distressed by his (and his organization’s) limited definition of Biblical principals and implicit endorsement of Governor Romney.  Not once did Rev. Graham express concern for the poor.  Though he used the language of “sanctity of human life”, he did not raise the issue that 1 in 4 children in America live in poverty.  Once again, Rev. Graham as a representative of evangelical America has reduced Biblical principals to opposition to abortion and gay marriage.  Adding unconditional support for the modern nation/state of Israel as a “Biblical principle” is (in my opinion) a mishandling of Scripture.

I believe we need to re-hear the parable of Jesus regarding the separation of nations in Matthew 25.  The care of the hungry, the homeless, the immigrant, the thirsty, the oppressed are of utmost concern to our leader, Jesus Christ.  Those are the “Biblical principles” that need to guide us when we enter the polling place on November 6.  And I believe it is time for “evangelicals” to begin following the example of Jesus and truly preach good news to the poor.

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