Franklin Graham’s “crude, insensitive, and paternalistic” comments.

Frankly, Rev. Graham, your insistence that “Blacks, Whites, Latinos, and everybody else” “Listen up,” was crude, insensitive, and paternalistic. Your comments betrayed the confidence that your brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those of color, have afforded your father’s ministry for decades. Your instructions oversimplified a complex and critical problem facing the nation and minimized the testimonies and wisdom of people of color and experts of every hue, including six police commissioners that served on the president’s task force on policing reform.

In the nadir of your commentary, you tell everyone to “OBEY” any instruction from authorities and suggest that the recent shootings of unarmed citizens “might have been avoided” if the victims had submitted to authority.

And you bluntly insist, “It’s as simple as that.”

It is not that simple. As a leader in the church, you are called to be an ambassador of reconciliation. The fact that you identify a widely acknowledged social injustice as “simple” reveals your lack of empathy and understanding of the depth of sin that some in the body have suffered under the weight of our broken justice system. It also reveals a cavalier disregard for the enduring impacts and outcomes of the legal regimes that enslaved and oppressed people of color, made in the image of God — from Native American genocide and containment, to colonial and antebellum slavery, through Jim Crow and peonage, to our current system of mass incarceration and criminalization.

An Open Letter to Franklin Graham.

I’m grateful for these thoughtful folks – some personal friends among them – who took the time to respond to Franklin Graham’s condescending post from last week. I have nothing to add to what they’ve said so clearly and directly except this: Rev. Graham, you’re not helping.

more james dobson et al.

I’m sorry. I don’t want to continue posting this kind of stuff, but something compels my fingers to type…

Two articles today once again have me scratching my head about the actions of certain Christian leaders and spokespeople. From Michael Scherer of Time Magazine,

At a meeting Tuesday in Denver, about 100 conservative Christian leaders from around the country agreed to unite behind the candidacy of John McCain, a politician they have long distrusted, marking the latest in a string of movements that bode well for McCain’s general election prospects among the Republican base.

And in an article from The Nation Max Blumenthal writes about a June meeting Barack Obama had with “evangelical leaders”.

Franklin Graham, son of the evangelical icon Billy Graham and head of the international Christian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse, was seated next to Obama at the meeting. He peppered Obama with pointed questions, repeatedly demanding to know if the senator believed that “Jesus was the way to God or merely a way.” Graham, who once incited an international controversy by calling Islam a “very evil and wicked religion,” proceeded to inquire about the Muslim faith of Obama’s father, suggesting that Obama himself may be a Muslim.

What the…?!

The timing of the Christian right’s wave of attacks on Obama suggests movement-wide coordination. Dobson, Wildmon and Bauer are leading members of the Arlington Group, a weekly conference that brings together most of the major Christian-right outfits to devise political strategy. Their barrage against Obama was only an opening volley. As their campaign intensifies, the Arlington Group is likely to tighten its coordination, targeting the movement’s message on Obama’s character.

Let me say this: As a Christian I am family to the folks in these articles. As such I don’t want to question their motives. I want to believe that these political power plays are a result of these people’s sincere belief that this is the right thing to do.

Having said this, their actions make no sense to me. Evangelical leaders like Dobson, Bauer, and Graham seem to believe that God works primarily through politics and governments. As such, it becomes very important to get the right people elected, even when those “right” people were the “wrong” people just a few months ago.

And it’s this kind of thinking that makes no sense to me. I read these verses from Psalm 33 this morning as I began preparing for an upcoming sermon,

No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.

The Christian’s hope for redemption must lie in God alone and in his coming Kingdom. For our future to be placed with a politician or political party seems like a form of adultery, as though we are cheating on the God who holds all things in his hands. This doesn’t mean that we don’t involve ourselves in the things of our neighborhoods and country. But it does seem to mean that we do so as those allied only to our King.

Help me out here. Am I missing something? Am I misinterpreting the words and action of these evangelical leaders? Or, am I looking at this whole political engagement thing all wrong?