Evangelist and CEO of both the Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) has a serious message for Christians all over this country.
The message, like the man, is straightforward: It is time for Christians to get actively involved in politics.
Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association are visiting all 50 states with their Decision America 2016 tour. They’re holding prayer rallies to challenge Christians to pray for America and its leaders, and to live and promote biblical principles at home, in public, and, very importantly, at the ballot box.
LifeZette spoke exclusively to Franklin Graham, 63, about the tour, the current spiritual state of America, the role of faith in politics — and how average Americans can turn the current progressive tide and bring back traditional values.
“We’re living in the most dangerous period of history in our nation,” said Graham, who is from Asheville, North Carolina. “It wasn’t the Civil or Revolutionary Wars or World War I or II that were the most dangerous — that time is now. We’re fighting the war within, the moral war. If Christians don’t stand up now we’re going to lose — and we’re going to lose big.”
Graham answered LifeZette’s other questions about changing America.
Q: Tell us about your “Decision America 2016 Tour” — how is that going?
A: It’s gone much better than I ever envisioned. We’ve pulled permits in all 50 states for 3,500 attendees at the state capitals, thinking if we got 500 people we would have a nice crowd. Our smallest crowd has been about 1500 and our largest has been around 10,000. People get there early. I’m talking hours early — and they aren’t coming to be entertained. In Concord, New Hampshire, people stood for hours in 18-degree weather before we even began. The wind was blowing 30 miles an hour and they braved that to hear the message.
Q: Why is "Decision America" drawing such big crowds?
A: People are coming to pray. Whether they are Democrat or Republican, they're coming out because they're dissatisfied. People realize that Washington is broken, and they know that politicians will promise anything, but then when they get into office nothing happens.
I would hope that during this election cycle people get mad enough to act. I'm not backing Donald Trump by saying this, but you see it at his rallies — people are mad. And they are concerned enough that they will attend our rallies. They realize that if we don't turn around, we're finished.
People sense the only hope this country has is God. I ask them to take the hand of the person next to them — and it could be the hand of a stranger — and I ask that we confess the sins of our nation. Let's confess it out loud to God on the Capitol steps. I offer a gospel invitation, and I ask people to surrender their lives to Christ. We have had hundreds accept Christ. Then, I encourage people to get involved.
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Q: How can the average American affect change in the country?
A: We talk a lot about the presidential election on the tour, because that is what the news focuses on, but there are races that are just as important or maybe even more important and those are: Who is going to be your mayor? Who is going to be your state representative or serve on your city council? We need to get Christian men and women to run for office across this country.
To be a county commissioner or mayor in a small town is not a full-time job. Normally county commissioners meet once a month for two or three hours on an afternoon. What I say is: "Every one of you ought to be a county commissioner. Every one of you ought to sit on city council. You can do this. We can take our communities back, one city, one municipality at a time."
I encourage Christians to get on school boards, too. The filth and the trash that is being approved for kids to read and study today is pitiful, and we need to take these decisions back.
Q: Should politics be kept out of faith — or vice versa?
A: Christians need to be actively involved in politics. People say, "Well, what about separation of church and state?" Well, that's a lie — our forefathers never told us Christians should be silent and uninvolved. They meant that government could not set up a religion. France was Catholic back then, England had the Church of England, and Germany was Lutheran — our new country could not be set up under one denomination, that's what they intended. You were never intended to be separated from your faith. Our forefathers never meant to stop us from preaching, or praying, or living out our faith.
Q: How can we use our faith to effect change?
A: As Christians, our voice needs to be heard. We need to stand up, and we don't need to worry about being politically correct — if you stand for the name of Christ you won't be politically correct, so forget about that! Let's take a stand for Almighty God, and for His truth and His righteousness. Churches and pastors are frightened, afraid to speak out because they don't want to be called intolerant.
When Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes unto the Father but by me" — that was intolerant. Take a stand. We can be both bold and Christian.
I don't just want to practice my faith, I want to live it. Christ called the Pharisees hypocrites and vipers. He wasn't lovey-dovey. He called it what it was. He took action. We need to do the same and take this country back.
Q: How is America’s spiritual health, in your opinion?
A: If you put it those terms, we have cancer — spiritual cancer. It's eating away at us, because of compromises that churches and Christians are living in their lives. We need to get back to serving God. We need to get back on our knees, confessing our sins and turning from our sins — otherwise, we're finished.
Q: What can parents do?
A: Get your kids into church, a Bible-believing church. And go with your kids — don't just drop them off. You set the example for your kids. They are going to be pounded at school with things that are not true — they will be told lie after lie there. If kids hear the truth at home, they'll hear the lies at school but they'll know what the truth is. Kids don't know the word of God, and their parents don't either.
Q: What about societal issues like the current wave of LGTB-focused changes?
A: The gay and lesbian movement is basically a lie itself. Less than 2 percent of the American population is gay, but they have been able to convince the vast majority — largely because they've gotten into schools — that the behavior is okay. They are forcing the rest of the country to accept their lifestyle, and our president is promoting that lifestyle. For us as Christians we need to stand up and push back, by getting elected locally.
Can you imagine if most of the mayors in this country were Christian? They would take our education system back.
Q: Your thoughts on living our daily lives of faith?
A: Don't be afraid to say no, and don't be afraid of being intolerant. Make your answer: "This is what the Bible says, and I'll stand on the word of God."