Faithful America, who says they are the largest online community of Christians putting faith into action for social justice, posted an online petition last Friday (January 15, 2021) calling for the firing of Franklin Graham from the organizations Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). The petition, addressed to directors of these organizations, calls on the directors to either fire Franklin Graham, who serves as President and CEO, or to resign themselves.
“As long as Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association stand by Franklin Graham, it must be said that these once-vaunted organizations have forgotten their original Christian missions, abandoned the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and are complicit in the spread of dishonest, discredited election conspiracy theories and the deadly, unpatriotic, white-nationalist terrorism at the U.S. Capitol incited by those lies,” the petition reads.
The petition’s initial goal was 20,000 signatures, but organizers raised it to 25,000. The petition currently has received over 24,000 signatures.
This isn’t the first time Faithful America has asked Samaritan’s Purse board members to remove Franklin Graham. On August 28th last year, the group posted a similar petition that garnered over 14,000 signatures. The petition listed the group’s grievances with Graham due to his support of President Donald Trump and, more specifically, for the prayer Graham prayed at the Republican National Convention.
The current petition claims that “Graham gets away with his hatred and conspiracy-theories by hiding behind the humanitarian work of Samaritan’s Purse and his late father’s name.” Citing one of Graham’s latest social media posts which compared Republicans who voted for Trump’s second impeachment to Judas, the group argues that Graham idolizes the 45th President of the United States. Faithful America says that the post revealed Graham was comparing Trump to Jesus, and therefore Graham was being blasphemous.
Faithful America also accused Rev. Graham of shrugging off the violence that took place at the Capitol building that left five people dead. Citing a quote from Graham about Trump (“We knew he had flaws when he ran for office in 2016”), the group claims there is nothing Christian about Graham’s seeming ambivalence to the role many believe Trump played in inciting the violence. Additionally, the group believes Graham blessed “Trump’s Big Lie” about a stolen election and that “Graham and the religious right must be held accountable for their deadly dishonesty.”
The petition Faithful America is asking people to sign reads as follows:
Dear Samaritan’s Purse and BGEA directors,
As long as Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association stand by Franklin Graham, it must be said that these once-vaunted organizations have forgotten their original Christian missions, abandoned the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and are complicit in the spread of dishonest, discredited election conspiracy theories and the deadly, unpatriotic, white-nationalist terrorism at the U.S. Capitol incited by those lies.
Our faith in Jesus Christ demands that we do better than this. Your fellow Christians from across the country call on you to fire Franklin Graham, or to resign from the Board in individual protest.
(This message will be sent to Michael Cheatham, Melvin Graham, Roy Graham, Michael Harwood, Skip Heitzig, Thomas Hodges, Cissie Lynch, Felix Martin del Campo, James Oliver, Brian Pauls, Phyllis Payne, Paul Saber, John Scott, Robert Shank, Paula Woodring, Sterling Carroll, James Furman, Donna Pierce, Ken Barun, George Battle, Jr., David Bruce, Will Graham, Frank Harrison, Greg Laurie, Anne Graham Lotz, Donald Wilton, and Daniel Allen.)
A statement by Paul Saber, a board member who serves on both organizations, given to the Charlotte Observer said that Faithful America “fabricated this lie that (Graham) incited violence at the Capitol.” Saber also said, “The Boards of Directors for Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association have expressed that they fully support Franklin Graham and are more than satisfied with the job he has done and is doing in leading these ministries. Franklin Graham was not in Washington, D.C., and he did not encourage people to go to the Capitol on January 6.”
Rev. Graham posted on social media the night before President Joe Biden’s inauguration saying he was praying for President Biden and Vice President Harris while encouraging others to do the same. He said, “Today as our country inaugurates a new president, there are concerns that there could be violence in Washington, DC, and in state capitals across the nation. I encourage Christians to make this a day of prayer—for peace and calm, and praying for our new leaders, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.”
On Wednesday, the day of the inauguration, Rev. Graham posted after President Biden’s speech saying, “I appreciated the conciliatory words of President Joe Biden today, urging both parties to work together. If the Democrats go ahead with pushing for the impeachment of a president who has left office, it would only further divide our nation. I hope President Biden will stand up to those on Capitol Hill who want to impeach Donald Trump and tell them to put this behind us. If he wants to unite the country, this would be a huge step forward. I encourage everyone to pray for him.”