Evangelist Franklin Graham has made some incendiary comments about cities in California. Graham was speaking on a radio show when he was asked about the evangelical “fight to win back California,” as The New York Times called it.
Though Graham told host Todd Starnes that he isn’t working with a political party, he said, “We are staying out of the politics part of it but I do want Christians to vote and I want them to ask God before they vote, who they should vote. But, I don’t think the Christians should be silent. The Christian voice needs to be heard,” referencing his 10-city tour through California to encourage Christians to run for office, because he said “California is sinking.”
He then said this about “sanctuary cities” (cities that don’t enforce some immigration laws): “People are leaving the state. The tax base is eroding. They are turning their once beautiful cities into sanctuary cities, which are just a little picture of Hell. Just go to San Francisco and go to this once-beautiful city and see what has happened to it.”
Read the entire piece here. Can Graham’s statement here be read in a way that is not racist or discriminatory?
As I wrote last week in the context of Graham’s tour of California:
Billy Graham believed the church needed to be “wakened” to the good news of the Gospel and the re-dedication of individual lives to that Gospel. Franklin Graham wants the church to be “wakened” to vote. The political captivity of evangelicalism doesn’t get any clearer than this.
Perhaps Graham’s “little picture of Hell” is better represented by his own politically-captive evangelicalism. But don’t take my word for it. Here is what the demon Screwtape said to his nephew Wormwood in C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters.
Let him begin by treating the Patriotism…as part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important. Then quietly and gradually nurse him to the state at which the religion becomes merely a part of the “cause,” in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce…Once [he’s] made the world and end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing.”
Let’s remember that Wormwood seeks his uncle’s advice for the purpose of leading a British man (“The Patient”) to hell.