N.C. church leader suggests Franklin Graham prayer tour was a racist, pro-Trump strategy

by WorldTribune Staff, January 9, 2017

Fueled by racism and $10 million, Franklin Graham’s Decision America Tour helped Donald Trump reach the White House with overwhelming support from white evangelicals, a North Carolina church leader said.

In a November Washington Post commentary titled “The racist history of Southern white evangelicalism and the rise of Donald Trump,” Disciples of Christ leader Rev. William J. Barber II said that Graham had organized “prayer rallies in all 50 state capitals” to back Trump’s campaign.

Franklin Graham speaks at the state capitol in Raleigh, North Carolina. /Flickr/Creative Commons
Franklin Graham speaks at the state capitol in Raleigh, North Carolina. /Flickr/Creative Commons

“It was a strategic investment. Eighty-one percent of [white] evangelicals voted for Donald Trump,” Barber wrote. “Just weeks before Election Day, when Graham concluded his national tour here in North Carolina, he stood on the steps of our old state capitol and told thousands of faithful followers that they needed to know the true name for those of us who call ourselves progressives: atheists. Sadly, our brother Franklin believes that a God who does not bless white America’s fear and nostalgia is no God at all.”

Barber added that “Graham inherited a religion which accommodated itself to slavery in America and has morphed over and again for 150 years to fuel every backlash against progress toward racial justice.”

David Millard Haskell, professor of religion and culture at Wilfrid Laurier University, wrote in The Washington Post on Jan. 6 that while mainline Protestant churches are losing about a million members a year, Protestant churches that stick with more literal Bible interpretations and more conservative beliefs tend to be the churches that grow. Those congregants also tend to vote, he said.

Haskell added that secular young people who strongly support more tolerant, inclusive values often don’t vote. One-fourth of them aren’t registered and until they become more politically engaged, Election Day will continue to be “disproportionately influenced by the heirs of a certain evangelical legacy.”

In has been noted that, in North Carolina, the liberal “Moral Mondays” movement, a series of demonstrations against that state’s conservative legislature and governor, has taken some credit for the November election victory of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

Graham meanwhile, said: “This election has been long, it’s been tough, and it’s been divisive. It’s time to put that behind us. Now is the time to come together in unity and work together.”