BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"I believe Donald Trump's there [the White House] because God put him there." – Franklin Graham
CBS News painted the picture: "The preacher and the president, seated side-by-side Wednesday in the lit-for-television Capitol Rotunda, leaned a few inches closer. The Rev. Franklin Graham whispered something to President Trump, who listened as he kept his eyes on the pine casket at the center of the room."
Whatever you might think about the legacy of the late Reverend Billy Graham – his laying in state in the Capitol Rotunda -- know this: His son Franklin is a Trump loving, LGBTQ condemning, Planned Parenthood denouncing, Obama bashing, Putin worshipping Islamophobe, that yearns to be the next inhabitant of his father's unofficial title of "America's Pastor." If anyone personifies the yearnings of white conservative evangelicals, who voted 80% for Trump, it is Franklin Graham. Over the past decade, Graham, who is president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has been creeping closer and closer to occupying the space of some of the most notable all-time Christian Right purveyors of hate.
Three years ago, he quit the Republican Party because it didn't chop Planned Parenthood funding from a spending bill. In a Facebook post, he compared Planned Parenthood to a den of Nazis: "After all of the appalling facts revealed this year about Planned Parenthood, our representatives in Washington had a chance to put a stop to this, but they didn't. There's no question—taxpayers should not be paying for abortions! Abortion is murder in God's eyes. Seeing and hearing Planned Parenthood talk nonchalantly about selling baby parts from aborted fetuses with utter disregard for human life is reminiscent of Joseph Mengele and the Nazi concentration camps! That should've been all that was needed to turn off the faucet for their funding. Nothing was done to trim this 2,000 page, $1.1 trillion budget. This is an example of why I have resigned from the Republican Party and declared myself Independent. I have no hope in the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, or Tea Party to do what is best for America. Unless more godly men and women get in this process and change this wicked system, our country is in for trouble."
But, as Alexander Pope wrote in his poem, "An Essay on Man," "hope springs eternal in the human breast," and now that his dad has passed, Graham sees a lane open to him. And he has signed up lock, stock and barrel to the coattails of one Donald J. Trump.
It was Trump's Muslim ban that appears to have won Graham's heart. Soon after Trump announced his Muslim ban, Graham wrote on Facebook: "For some time I have been saying that Muslim immigration into the United States should be stopped until we can properly vet them or until the war with Islam is over."
Graham who also runs Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief organization, scored a double praising Putin for pushing anti-LGBTQ decrees in Russia, while bashing Obama for being too darned LGBTQ tolerant.
"It's obvious that President Obama and his administration are pushing the gay-lesbian agenda in America today and have sold themselves completely to that which is contrary to God's teaching.
"In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues," Graham wrote. "Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation's children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda."
At the time, numerous headlines told the story: "Franklin Graham wishes Barack Obama were more like Vladimir Putin" (Salon); "Rev. Franklin Graham: Obama Should Be More Like Putin on Gay Rights" (Mediaite.com); "Franklin Graham Commends Putin for Opposing LGBT Agenda in Russia, But Is Praying for Peace in Ukraine" (The Christian Post); "Billy Graham's Son: Obama Could Learn from Putin's Homophobia" (The Advocate); and, "Franklin Graham Thinks Putin's Stance On Gay Rights Is Better Than Obama's" (Religion News Service).
Just how sycophantic can Graham get? Pretty damned sycophantic!
A few weeks back Graham completely let Trump off the hook for apparently having had an affair with Stormy Daniels, the porn star, while his wife Melania was pregnant with their son Baron, and paying her off to remain silent. Graham not only gave Trump a pass, but he ratcheted up the rhetoric by claiming that there was a coup d'état afoot: "There are people in this country who are wanting to destroy the president and take over the government by force."
Graham added: "They are not going to use bullets. They are using the media – to plant thoughts in people's minds that he's incompetent, that he's dangerous, that you can't trust him with nuclear weapons, that he is mentally unstable."
Late in his life, the Reverend Billy Graham, who was a close confidant to President Richard Nixon, realized that perhaps he should have distanced himself from politics. "Looking back, I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn't do that now," Billy Graham told Christianity Today in 2011. His father's advice to the contrary, Franklin Graham appears to see the gateway to stardom, and his father's unofficial title of America's Pastor as going directly through Trump's White House.