Faithful America, which claims to be the largest online community of Christians putting faith into action for social justice, has posted an online petition calling for the firing of Franklin Graham from Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).
The petition, which has garnered more than 24,500 signatures, claims that Graham has betrayed the mission of both groups by spreading “discredited election conspiracy theories” and “white nationalist terrorism,” which it says led to the riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“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 states.
The petition’s initial goal was 20,000 signatures, but organizers have raised the bar to 25,000.
This isn’t the first time Faithful America has asked Samaritan’s Purse board members to remove Franklin Graham. Last August, 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 Graham’s prayer at the Republican National Convention, which thanked God for the “many blessings” of Trump’s presidency.
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The current petition claims that Graham gets away with his political rhetoric “by hiding behind the humanitarian work of Samaritan’s Purse and his late father’s name.”
Faithful America cited one of Graham’s recent social media posts, which compared Republicans who voted for Trump’s second impeachment to Judas Iscariot. The group argued that the post essentially likened Trump to Jesus and was 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.
In a statement given to the Charlotte Observer, Paul Saber, a board member with Samaritan’s Purse and the BGEA, claimed 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.”
The night before President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Rev. Graham stuck a conciliatory tone on social media and encouraged Americans to pray for their new leaders.
“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,” Graham wrote. “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 urged President Biden not to push for the impeachment of Donald Trump.
“I appreciated the conciliatory words of President Joe Biden today, urging both parties to work together,” Graham wrote. “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.”
Jesse T. Jackson is an author at Church Leaders, where this article first appeared. Jackson also serves as a deacon, a growth group leader, and is a member of University Baptist Church in Beavercreek, Ohio.