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Weaponizing Prayer: Franklin Graham Calls for Political Rallies From the Pulpit

Psalm 122:1 (AMP) – I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Tomorrow morning, I will rise and thank my Father God for my redeemed life. I will thank Him for supplying all my needs – health, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food in my stomach, and a way to support myself.

I’ll thank Him for my family, pray for their well-being, as well as for the salvation of my lost loved ones.

I will also pray for the hearts of our nation’s leadership to be turned to Him and His ways.

I will pray for Donald Trump, but not because Franklin Graham has put out the call to churches to turn their pulpits on Sunday morning into a spiritual bulwark for the adulterous, abusive, thrice-divorced, truth-challenged, friend of tyrants and dictators.

I will pray for Trump. That’s not an issue. He’s awful and desperately in need of a Damascus Road experience. He’s in need of the risen Savior, Jesus.

And while American evangelicals desperately want to celebrate him as “one of us,” he is not.

For any who practice spiritual discernment, that’s clear.

For those whose discernment is linked with their politics, it may be less clear.

Sadly, Franklin Graham is in that group.

He has called for a national day of prayer for President Trump on June 2, 2019.

Like no President before him, Trump was under attack, Graham said. From Democrats, Republicans, the media, even powers and principalities beyond the human realm. His presidency was in peril, the country at a moral crossroads.

“We’re on the edge of a precipice,” Graham said. “Time is short. We need to pray for God to intervene. We need to ask God to protect, strengthen, encourage, and guide the President.”

What a way to ramp up the base in an election season.

Make no mistake. This is a political event, wrapped in the American flag and the pages of the Holy Bible. Graham’s father, Evangelist Billy Graham was a friend to presidents, but unlike his son, his support was nonpartisan. He may have had his own political beliefs, but he didn’t let that get in the way of his first call: evangelism.

Democrat, Republican – Billy Graham sat in counsel to many from both sides of the political aisle.

And do you know what else he didn’t do?

He didn’t make his sermons about the politics of the day.

Preach Jesus, and only Jesus.

I have no doubt, however, that Franklin Graham’s call will be answered around the country, as pulpits bend to worldly devices, even if only briefly.

Am I the only conservative Christian who really has a problem with the church being used as a political tool?

I’m not.

Some have accused Graham of “weaponizing” prayer and turning it into a pro-Trump propaganda tool.

“He’s doing so much to discredit the Christian witness,” said Peter Wehner, an evangelical who served two Republican presidents in the White House.

This is exactly what I’ve been saying since evangelicals chose to ignore Donald Trump’s adulteries, the host of women who reported abusive behavior at his hands – including his own words from the 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording – and his public announcement that he’d never asked God for forgiveness.

They ignored that. They ignored his hateful demeanor, and in fact, embraced his demonization of others outside of the United States and called it “holy.”

Meanwhile, the world is watching. They need to see us as different, displaying the fruit of the Holy Spirit and extending a hand to the hurting.

That’s not what they see in evangelical Trump supporters.

That’s because there is no salvation in politics. Politics is a system for this world, not the coming Kingdom of God.

“Nothing in the call to prayer calls Trump to repentance for his many lies, for his support for ruthless dictators around the world, for his obstructions of reasonable congressional oversight, or for the authorization of cruel treatment of asylum seekers at the border,” wrote Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania and a close observer of evangelical politics.

Because they’ve bent their faith to fit Trump, rather than insisting the man Graham is celebrating correct his behavior to fit their faith.

Meanwhile, Graham scoffs at the notion that the evangelical advocacy for Trump could push people away.

He doesn’t see the hypocrisy in embracing and protecting a man like Donald Trump, while ignoring those who don’t share his political ideology.

Michele Margolis, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania recently spent some time interviewing pastors around Alabama, as a way of reading the temperature of the evangelical base.

Some pastors told her that some of their church members threatened to walk out of their churches if they ever prayed for Obama on a Sunday morning, Margolis said. But they are happy to pray for Trump, and likely will this weekend.

I have a world of problems with former President Obama, but I did pray for him, as well.

I didn’t pray for him because I was a liberal, or a supporter.

I prayed for him because he needed the love and guidance of our God. He needed salvation.

And because he was our president.

I missed Franklin Graham’s call to pray for protection over Barack Obama.

Sunday mornings are a refuge – or should be.

Franklin Graham should not be using his father’s name or influence to promote politics from the pulpit.

Will I walk out if my own pastor disrupts the peace of my Sunday worship with politics?

We’ll see.

And Franklin Graham should be ashamed of himself.

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