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article imageOp-Ed: Rev. Graham and his Sliding Scale of Authentic Christianity

By Sadiq Green     Feb 22, 2012 in Politics
"Islam sees him as a son of Islam ... I can't say categorically that (the president is not Muslim) because Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama." - Rev. Franklin Graham
Those words, and others, were spoken by Rev. Franklin Graham on the MSNBC program Morning Joe yesterday morning. Graham, the son of famed evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, has repeatedly questioned President Obama’s faith and had been highly critical of the nation’s first Black president. This is about race, party and faith; the simple fact that Graham reserves no such judgment for Republicans Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, and has publicly stated that Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith does not concern him makes it so.
Graham’s words evoke a history of southern White Christian dogma that dehumanized African-Americans, supported the enslavement of Africans and aided and abetted Jim Crow. A legion of false prophets, so-called sons of the South, has used Christianity and the Bible to justify the subjugation of Blacks and demonize African-Americans in the name of White supremacy. Franklin Graham is just the latest. Let's not forget that the Ku Klux Klan rode in the name of God and used the cross as an instrument of terror? It was not along ago when Rev. Jerry Falwell was spewing his hate-filled rhetoric and Bob Jones University was barring Black students and interracial relationships on its campus.
The new words of choice in the evangelical arsenal are “Muslim” and "Islam" and they are wielded to send a direct message to southern, White working class voters to question the loyalty of the President. Graham stated he accepts President Obama’s claim he’s a Christian at face value, but said ultimately only God knows his heart. He asserted that Mr. Obama has shown strong empathy toward Muslims, and the president has an Islamic background.
“Under Islamic law, under Shariah law, Islam sees him as a son of Islam, because his father was a Muslim, his grandfather was a Muslim, his great-grandfather was a Muslim. So under Islamic law, the Muslim world sees President Obama as a Muslim, as a son of Islam. That's just the way it works. That's the way they see him.”
Not that it should be an issue if we had a President who was a Muslim; after all in this country of religious freedom, a faith affirmation is not required of any individual running for office. Still, Graham and his kind play on the deeply rooted racism of many southern Whites and also a share of northerners too, by using his professed faith and the Bible to cast doubts upon the morality of President Obama. It is a shameful exercise that only gains traction because of the ignorance of Graham’s followers and the silence of White Christians who ought to know better. In many ways the lack of a sufficient rebuttal by Graham’s White peers is reminiscent of the silence of White southern clergy during Jim Crow that prompted Dr. King’s famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
Franklin Graham’s rant come against the backdrop of the Southern Baptist Convention, the ideological foundation of White evangelical Christians in the South, considering modifying its name. The regional identification of Baptists is a direct consequence of the historical split over slavery – North v. South – with southern Baptists standing firmly behind the peculiar institution otherwise known as slavery. It would not be until June 1995 when the Southern Baptist Convention would adopt a resolution formally denouncing racism and the role southern Baptists have played in the acceptance of racism in the past, identifying it as a “deplorable sin.” Apparently Rev. Franklin Graham did not get the memo.
There is rarely a discussion in America on Christian extremism, such as that on display when Tim McVeigh, a self-proclaimed Christian, engineered the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Neither do we talk about how self-proclaimed prophets like Rev. Franklin Graham regularly cast judgment on Blacks but are silent in the face of abject poverty, mass imprisonment of African-Americans, and the crisis of Black joblessness. Where was Rev. Graham when an innocent man, Troy Davis, was executed in Georgia? White evangelicals like to “preach” the Gospel while engaging in all manners of evil and sowing seeds of division and hate. We don’t want to talk about the Bible toting Christian onlookers who cheered when Blacks were routinely lynched in southern states.
I have no patience for hypocrites like Rev. Franklin Graham and I loathe false prophets of any religion, who like him who sully the Gospel. Lets do all we can to expose Graham and those like him, by challenging White evangelicals to provide the Biblical justification for their racism.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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