Saturday, August 20, 2016

Are progressives atheists?

Rev. Franklin Graham’s god (NOTE to Editor: lower case “g” is intentional) is small enough to fit tightly in his pocket. In Cheyenne he pulled it out long enough to insult a large share of Christendom proclaiming “progressive” is “just a code word for atheist.”

Speaking for progressive Christians let me say that in his case “convert” is just a code word for extremist.

Rev. Graham reminds me of attempting to kayak. The first lesson was how to upright the kayak after tipping it over. My head under water, my legs strapped in the kayak, I panicked, jerking upward hard and coming out of the water on one side, uprighted and flopping over to the other side, my head still under water.  

That’s the conversion Franklin Graham experienced. Drowning on one side from drug and alcohol, he jerked himself out of that water so enthusiastically that he went over the other side. Instead of entering recovery with humility and empathy he found himself drowning in the dark waters of judgmentalism. 

His earlier experiences are no secret. One online critic pens a blog titled “The Old Redneck Speaks.” Redneck says, “Franklin Graham spent several years worshipping booze, pills, white powder, and wimmin. Then, one day, something happened.”

The younger Graham saw that getting right with Jesus could be profitable. He witnessed his father turn preaching into a $25 million fortune. “The Old Redneck” said the prodigal son of the famous evangelist “realized he had two roads open to him, an ever-downward spiral or ‘Get Right With God,’ which would make him heir to the fabulous Graham fortune.”

“Born again,” the younger member of the Graham preaching dynasty passed the proverbial collection plate and amassed a $10 million estate. That’s not exactly the widow’s mite.

How do you make that kind of money preaching? I could understand if he were in Congress, but preaching? If he gave seminars on turning preaching into gold, I’d be there. But to get a parson’s salary like that you’d have say the outrageous things Rev. Graham does. The money isn’t worth that.

He’s a “birther,” questioning President Obama’s citizenship. Ask Donald Trump. No one ever lost money playing that game. Rev. Graham calls Islam “evil and wicked.” He’s not a fan of contemporary churches either. In an interview he claimed American churches aren’t feeding the poor.

Making an anti-government statement, Rev. Graham claimed, "A hundred years ago the social safety net in the country was provided by the church. If you were hungry, you went to the local church and told them, I can't feed my family, and the church would help you. That's not being done.”

Wrong. My church is doing that. So are dozens of others in this community. We could help a lot more with a tithe of that $10 million he’s banked.

Franklin Graham made clear gays and lesbians are not included in his eisegesis of the “love thy neighbor” commandment. Friday Florida Senator Marco Rubio said evangelicals should acknowledge the pain they’ve caused the LGBT community. At the same moment in Cheyenne, Franklin Graham was adding to their pain.

The day before, Rev. Graham spoke in Boise. He said marriage equality was “celebrating sin” and would bring God’s judgment on the nation. Earlier he said gays “recruit.” Like Donald Trump, Graham sees Vladimir Putin as a standard for America. Rev. Graham noted, “America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue, protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda, Russia’s standard is higher than our own.”

Like Donald Trump, Franklin Graham has little regard for America saying no one looks to us for moral leadership. He’s as wrong about that as he is about progressives. It’s just not his “moral leadership” they want. Theologically arrogant preachers like Rev. Graham are largely responsible for why “none of the above” is the fastest growing denomination in America.

In Cheyenne the extremist convert said, “Before our nation can be healed, our individual hearts must be healed.” Jesus had an answer for him. “Physician, heal thyself!”

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