Political Animal


May 11, 2012 9:02 AM The President Dares To Defy Franklin Graham

By Ed Kilgore

We still don’t know for sure who if anyone is responsible for shoving 93-year-old Billy Graham back into the harness of right-wing politics after so many years of devoting himself to loftier causes, in order to marginally boost the numbers for North Carolina’s Amendment One. But this statement from his son in response to the president’s announcement of support for same-sex marriage is certainly a pretty big hint:

On Tuesday my state of North Carolina became the 31st state to approve a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. While the move to pass amendments defining marriage is relatively new, the definition of marriage is 8,000 years old and was defined not by man, but by God Himself.
In changing his position from that of Senator/candidate Obama, President Obama has, in my view, shaken his fist at the same God who created and defined marriage. It grieves me that our president would now affirm same-sex marriage, though I believe it grieves God even more.
The institution of marriage should not be defined by presidents or polls, governors or the media. The definition was set long ago and changing legislation or policy will never change God’s definition. This is a sad day for America. May God help us.”

A swift response to Franklin Graham from a fellow North Carolina minister, the Rev. Murdoch Smith, pastor of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte, said it all for me: “I am always suspect when someone says that they know the mind of God.”

I understand that many sincere Christians fundamentalists believe they are submitting themselves to God and subordinating their own egos and their own self-interest by simply following in their lives what they understand to be infallible divine revelation of the Bible. Many of them, indeed, are so humble it would not occur to them to impose their views on other people, much less force them to live as they do.

If there is anything humble or self-effacing or ego-immolating about Franklin Graham, I certainly don’t see it. As Rev. Smith says, he doesn’t follow God; he knows God and speaks for him, the God that not only fully reveals his Will to Franklin Graham via Franklin Graham’s infallible interpretation of scripture, but through God’s great and characteristic conservatism, his deep and manifest satisfaction with people like Franklin Graham who defend the ways things used to be before women and gay people and other lesser breeds got all uppity.

When people like Graham presume to accuse the President of the United States of “shaking his fist at God,” they are assuming the Prophetic Stance, the Hebrew tradition of calling down divine wrath on a depraved society. Ask yourselves: what kind of prophet would look at today’s world, with its poverty and violence and gross inequality, its environmental brinksmanship, its intolerance, its sheer wastefulness and lack of charity—and decide that what merits divine wrath is gay marriage? What sort of man of God could look at all the grievous occurrences on earth, and declare, with absolutely no indication of self-doubt, that God is grieving over gay people deciding to commit themselves to each other in love?

I’m sorry, I just do not get it. Graham has confused himself with God to an extent that when Barack Obama dares take a position he doesn’t like, he’s shaking his fist at God. I think Franklin Graham’s the one who’d better look out for thunderbolts.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • T2 on May 11, 2012 9:11 AM:

    snake oil

  • c u n d gulag on May 11, 2012 9:12 AM:

    Let's give (the not so) Reverend Franklin "Cracker" Graham some credit, where credit is due:

    He's pushing back "Creationism" at least 2,000 years, from the earlier 6,000 year-old estimate of the creation of the universe, and God's creation of Adam and Eve - not Adam and Steve, or Eve and Eva!


  • Grumpy on May 11, 2012 9:19 AM:

    Someone should fix the Wikipedia article about 6000 BC. Doesn't say anything about the invention of marriage. Graham implies that "traditional" marriage did not exist in the Paleolithic. Imagine the hunter-gatherers of that time raging against the radical social arrangements of the Neolithic generation.


  • SolidsidSolid on May 11, 2012 9:20 AM:

    Absolutely right on the money...Franklin Graham can't measure up to his father and can't make it without tearing somebody down. One can argue that Billy Graham has not been relevant on the national stage in years and Franklin Graham has never been..

    The Christian right's view of the world is only going to get more shrill and intolerant on this issue. Franklin Graham, I have one question for you....doesn't the First Commandment tells us "to do undo others as you would have others do unto to you".... That's God speaking to all of us and not just personally to you

  • martin on May 11, 2012 9:23 AM:

    Failing to be Billy Graham, Franklin Graham settles for being Pat Robertson

  • Hedda Peraz on May 11, 2012 9:23 AM:

    What we used to call "raining cats and dogs" I now realize is two "Gods" having a pissing contest!

  • Bo on May 11, 2012 9:30 AM:

    Perhaps Frankie Graham should read this article before he opens his pie-hole and proves he's a fool again --> http://anthropologist.livejournal.com/1314574.html

  • Kathryn on May 11, 2012 9:30 AM:

    Franklin Graham is a nasty piece of work, expression fits him to a tee. What is so difficult for these preachers and priests to grasp, marriage is a social contract, licenses are obtained from the state, the state and churches are separate. No church is being coerced to marry gay folks after they obtain the civil license to marry, they are freaken irrelevant, zip it Franklin and worry about your own salvation.

  • Peter C on May 11, 2012 9:40 AM:

    Graham may think whatever he likes about marriage, but he may not impose his religious ideas on the rest of us and establish them in our government. Government should have no power over how a church administers the sacrament of marriage within their congregation, and they claim none. But marriage is also a CIVIL arrangement with concrete legal implications, and religious institutions should have no power over how the government administers the legal implications of the civil institution of marriage. The always has been a separation between them, and there always should be.

  • POed Lib on May 11, 2012 9:41 AM:

    There is a word for what F Graham does, and the word is "blasphemy". To blaspheme is to state a falsehood in the name of god, and to say that you know the mind of god is a blasphemous statement ipso facto. Here is the easy proof: god herself is infinite, ageless, and ultimately wise (if she does exist, which I doubt). Graham is not. QED

  • Matt on May 11, 2012 9:49 AM:

    For someone so concerned with marriage licenses, God sure was focused on dinosaurs for 180 million years.

  • Ron Byers on May 11, 2012 9:52 AM:

    We all know that God is WHITE and Franklin Graham is white so Franklin Graham is just like God. Because they are both white is clear that Franklin Graham is made in God's image and that Franklin Graham is God's agent on this earth. If you want proof all you have to do is ask Franklin Graham. We also know that God is straight and Franklin Graham says he is straight. Franklin Graham says gay people should be condemned. God's only desire is to do the bidding of his agent on this earth, Franklin Graham, and condemn the lesser beings his agent condemns. We know that the black usurper in the White House who calls on all of us to listen to the golden rule and do unto others as we would have them do unto us and who calls upon us to view others with an open mind and an open heart is a lesser being and a heretic because he is black. Franklin Graham has rightfully condemned him. I am pretty sure God is going to be throwing thunderbolts at the Whitehouse real soon.

    I am sick to death of pompous asses like Franklin Graham claiming to speak for God. Can't we just tell them to shut their traps and let all of us try to find God for ourselves.

  • Grumpy on May 11, 2012 9:58 AM:

    LOL Matt. And God sure did create a lot of male ladybugs.

  • ACLS on May 11, 2012 10:01 AM:

    Well, to be fair, Old Testament God (who was the one who did most of the smiting) might have blown up your whole village because you had wicker baskets by your door on a Wednesday. Gay marriage is really as good a reason as any.

    Does that boost Graham's case? I don't know anymore.

  • c u n d gulag on May 11, 2012 10:06 AM:

    Those 180 million didn't really exist - they were known as Saturday, the 6th day of creation.

    And God also created Adam and Eve on that day.

    And, on Sunday, the 7th day, God rested and watched his new toys - people.

    And he realized that having them riding around on dinosaurs was not only inconvenient, but wasteful.

    And so HE sent Jesus down to to Earth to give Christians the Gospel, and the internal combustion engine - and he needed the dinosaurs people were riding to make Exxon-Mobil and BP gas.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on May 11, 2012 10:08 AM:

    "The institution of marriage should not be defined by presidents or polls, governors or the media. The definition was set long ago and changing legislation or policy will never change Godís definition. This is a sad day for America. May God help us.Ē

    Wow, I couldn't agree with you more, Mr. Graham. Who can and can't marry certainly shouldn't be up for vote or thrown into state or national constitutions. And suddenly coming out of the works to codify whatever God intended marriage to be isn't going to change whatever any of us think it ever was/is/going to be. (Afterall, if the definition was already codified in law somewhere, why the hell would we need to write new laws in this modern age to (re)define it--is this a little reminder to ourselves or something? De jure segregation wasn't always the way until those pesky freedman forgot their place and started asserting rights.) A very sad day for America it is, when we use religion to discriminate against our fellow citizens...

    Graham can keep his definition of marriage and let the rest of us have ours. Live and let live.

  • stormskies on May 11, 2012 10:17 AM:

    Sounds like Grahams DEPENDS became to full ... of his own shit.

  • rrk1 on May 11, 2012 10:40 AM:

    Considering that various clerics in past centuries figured out that creation happened on October 20, 4004 BC at 9:30 a.m., god must have screwed up by creating marriage 2,000 years before that, according to Graham's reckoning. Jerks like Franklin Graham Cracker can't even be consistent with their own miserable propaganda.

    The old adage of the 'apple not falling far from the tree' doesn't seem to apply. As much of a fundamentalist as Billy was (is), fils seems to have fallen from the apple tree planted on a steep downhill slope. He's landed in the sewer where he will no doubt find many friends.

  • Snarki, child of Loki on May 11, 2012 10:42 AM:

    Thunderbolt? for F. Graham the cracker?

    Nah, Thor is on vacation with the Swedish Bikini Team right now, and won't be bothered with squishing that particular insect. Priorities!

    As for that Yahweh character, after kicking some hebrew butt a couple of millenia back, he took off to deal with some big galactic-collision thing over in the Perseus supercluster. Should keep him busy for about a half-aeon.

    But not to worry, he left his most trusted and senior lieutenant to mind the shop. Guy by the name of "Satan", you might have heard of him. Prince of a fellow, but a short fuse, so watch out.

    Loki multi-tasks better than any of those dudes anyway. I hear he's filled up F. Graham's browser history with links to kiddy-porn sites, the fun should start any day now.

  • Frank on May 11, 2012 10:55 AM:

    Who made him Pope?

  • ComradeAnon on May 11, 2012 10:58 AM:

    From the man that has a talking cow at the library he set up for his father.

  • schtick on May 11, 2012 11:01 AM:

    Anyone else notice they have given up on the middleman, Jesus and are now spewing God's thoughts?

  • SYSPROG on May 11, 2012 11:20 AM:

    I know that we aren't SUPPOSED to go back to the youthful indescretions of these sanctimonious peckerheads (Romney=bullying, Graham=hell raiser) but Franklin Graham is a FRAUD that saw Daddy's empire and decided to emulate him to get control of the money and the power. There is nothing in his youth to indicate that he 'knew' God except for the statement after getting him out of scrap after scrap that 'he had turned his life over to God...' That was more to protect Billy and his crusade than any actual belief that Franklin was still a turd. I'm sorry but what we do in our youth defines us. We CAN change and go on with the complete knowledge of what we had done or we can hide it, pretend to forget it and hope YOU don't remember. This is not the FIRST time that Franklin Graham has accused people who do not 'know' God as he does of being 'heathens', shaking their hand at God, etc. etc. A TRUE Christian realizes that there are many denominations, many interpretations and we are to work together. Another thing. If you GOOGLE marriage you don't find Graham's proclamations of how it began. But that would get in the way of his 'meme' and 'I know more than any of YOU' garbage.

  • zandru on May 11, 2012 11:22 AM:

    "the definition of marriage is 8,000 years old and was defined not by man, but by God Himself."

    You mean the definition where men can have many wives? Like King Soloman, with his 8 (named) wives (maybe more) and his 10+ concubines? Doesn't Frankie read HIS BIBLE? "Blasphemy" is right, and thanks, POed Lib.

    I think Kathryn said it best. "Marriage" in these United States is a legal contract, with specific privileges and responsibilities. It is generally further amended by various pre-nup agreements. Any relation to some religion's definition of "marriage" is purely coincidental, and the religious definition has no force of law.

    Otherwise, there would be even more Mormons than we already have.

  • Tom Hilton on May 11, 2012 11:24 AM:

    Good for Rev. Smith. But the language Nazi in me feels compelled to point out that he meant 'suspicious', not 'suspect' (the claim to know the mind of god is what is actually suspect).

  • Daniel Kim on May 11, 2012 11:27 AM:

    "defining marriage as being between a man and a woman"

    Such legal definitions and resolutions, claiming to reflect a 'Biblical' authority, must always be followed by the phrase: "and ending only with death."

    Rather than attempt to oppose the passage of 'marriage bills', progressives should push to make them more 'Biblical', and see how committed the fundamentalists are to their creed.

  • pol on May 11, 2012 11:37 AM:

    The editor of the Virginia Advocate, the magazine for the Virgina United Methodist Church, wrote in the March issue, in which he said,

    "Homosexuality is an issue that stirs United Methodists up. So as we investigate this issue again, I did want to start with some biblical teaching. So here's what Jesus said about the topic of homosexuality: (blank page) ." Neill Caldwell

  • internet tough guy on May 11, 2012 11:48 AM:

    "In changing his position from that of Senator/candidate Obama, President Obama has, in my view, shaken his fist at the same God who created and defined marriage."

    Anyone who knows their Bible understands what this is dogwhistle for.

    The Secret Service better not relax for even a moment now.

    (and hebrew shows up in my recaptcha. lol

  • Stetson Kennedy on May 11, 2012 11:52 AM:

    Maybe some enterprising reporter could ask Rev. Graham (the younger, as I doubt the elder knows what year it is) if he keeps a kosher diet, or if he refrains from wearing clothes of different cloth, or should he pre decease his wife, if it would be OK to sell her off into slavery.

    Those are all in the bible, too. But I suspect that the Revs Graham are a little selective in what they decide God really wants.

  • Gregory on May 11, 2012 12:18 PM:

    I understand that many sincere Christians fundamentalists believe they are submitting themselves to God

    I see what you did there.

  • rainey on May 11, 2012 12:56 PM:

    There are theologians who think the concept of "taking the Lord's name in vain" is not about scatological language but taking on the mantle of god and using it inappropriately. Just as Graham has done. Of course, I wonder if he reflects enough or has enough humility to grasp the concept.

  • mark on May 11, 2012 3:15 PM:

    Did Graham explain why God waited about 120,000 years after modern humans arose in Africa to give them a definition of marriage? Modern humans, Neanderthals, and Denisovans may have interbred--was that okay because it was before the definition was provided?

  • Belle on May 11, 2012 10:32 PM:

    [your comment was deleted because it was utter nonsense. also, it may interest you to know that the president is a lifelong christian who regularly talks about his christian faith. perhaps you could respect that as you would with anyone else - mod.]

  • low-tech cyclist on May 13, 2012 7:32 AM:

    You'd think Franklin Graham would know that the correct answer to the apostle Paul's question, "Who knows the mind of the Lord? Who has been his counselor?" isn't "ME!!"

    It was intended to be rhetorical, dude.

    Oh, and by claiming that "the definition of marriage is 8,000 years old," is Graham taking a stand against Biblical inerrancy? After all, the Biblical genealogies say it's been just a tad over 6,000 years since the creation of Adam.