Billy Graham's granddaughters ask Christian voters to take a stand on Trump in 2020 US election
One says ‘vote for him’, the others says ‘vote against him’
Two of the late Billy Graham’s granddaughters have entered the political fray during the past 48 hours, with both making an impassioned plea to Christians voters in the upcoming 2020 United States (US) election.
In both cases, the women expressed being motivated to engage in the election campaign because of the actions of current US President Donald Trump and their effect on Christians and matters Christians care about.
Their grandfather Graham is largely credited with beginning the modern evangelical movement and his legacy is respected the world over for his example and ministry.
But his granddaughter, Jerushah Duford, says that much has changed in the evangelical movement in America in recent years.
“I have spent my entire life in the church, with every big decision guided by my faith. But now I feel homeless. Like so many others, I feel disoriented as I watch the church I have always served, turn its eyes away from everything it teaches,” Duford writes in an editorial published yesterday on USA Today.
Now, she says, “my faith and my church have become a laughing stock, and any attempt by its members to defend the actions of Trump at this time sound hollow and insincere.”
However, Billy Graham’s granddaughter Cissie Graham Lynch told the Republican National Convention (RNC) this week that Trump was a “fierce advocate in the White House” for people of faith.
Speaking out for change
Duford is a speaker and member of Lincoln Women, a group of women in the Lincoln Project – a coalition of current and former Republicans whose stated mission is to “defeat President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box” on November 3. Formed in 2019, the Lincoln Project’s mission statement says, “the priority for all patriotic Americans must be a shared fidelity to the Constitution and a commitment to defeat those candidates who have abandoned their constitutional oaths, regardless of party.”
Duford’s article is aimed at evangelical women who, like her, are feeling “a tug at their spirit” regarding evangelical support of Trump.
“Most of these women walked into a voting booth in 2016 believing they were choosing between two difficult options. They held their breath, closed their eyes and cast a vote for Donald Trump, whom many of us then believed to be ‘the lesser of two evils,’ all the while feeling that tug,” she writes.
Duford says she felt that “tug” herself over the President’s comments and policies related to government housing, immigration and women. Drawing on the legacy of her late grandfather, Duford writes that one of Billy Graham’s favourite Bible verses was Micah 6.8 which instructs God’s people to do justice, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk humbly.
“These are the attributes of our faith we should present to the world. We can no longer allow our church leaders to represent our faith so erroneously,” she writes.
“I am asking all of you who feel as I do … to use the power of your God-given voice …” – Jerushah Duford
But Duford says the tug in her spirit “became an aggressive yank” when she watched Trump walk through Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., after the tear gassing of peaceful protesters to clear the space for for a photo op with a Bible.
“It seems that the only evangelical leaders to speak up praised the president, with no mention of his behaviour that is antithetical to the Jesus we serve. The entire world has watched the term ‘evangelical’ become synonymous with hypocrisy and disingenuousness,” Duford writes.
“Now I am asking all of you who feel as I do, to embrace your inner tug, and allow it to lead you to use the power of your God-given voice and not allow Trump to lead this country for another four years. ”
Duford says some evangelical women fear speaking up about their concerns regarding Trump’s presidency – a situation she experienced at a recent large family event, when she was pulled aside by many female family members who thanked her for speaking out against the Trump administration.
“With tears in their eyes, they used a hushed tone, out of fear that they were alone or at risk of undeserved retribution,” Duford writes.
Graham family support for President Trump
The family anecdote hints at the bold departure from her extended family she has made by writing the piece and joining the Lincoln Project. This because, in recent times, the Graham family has been known for its support for President Trump, with Duford’s uncle Franklin Graham and his daughter Cissie Graham Lynch, both taking a vocal public stance.
Franklin Graham, for example, tweeted his support for the President’s Bible photo, saying Trump “made an important statement that what took place the night before in the burning, looting, and vandalism of the nation’s capital — including this historic house of worship — mattered, and that the lawlessness had to end”.
His daughter, Graham Lynch, serves on the Executive Evangelical Advisory Board of President Trump’s Faith Advisory Council.
“… People of faith suddenly had a fierce advocate in the White House.” – Cissie Graham Lynch
On Tuesday night at the RNC, she pointed out how the first line of the First Amendment not only outlines protections for freedom of religion, but also for “free exercise” of religion.
“That means living out our faith in our daily lives – in our schools, at our jobs and, yes, even in the public square,” Graham Lynch told the RNC.
“Our Founders did not envision a quiet, hidden faith. They fought to ensure that voices of faith were always welcomed, not silenced. Not bullied.”
Graham Lynch said before Trump took office, these freedoms had been under attack.
“But then we the people elected Donald Trump, people of faith suddenly had a fierce advocate in the White House. He appointed judges who respect the First Amendment. He supported religious beliefs in court. He ensured religious ministries would not be forced to violate their beliefs. He withdrew the policies that placed our little girls at risk,” Graham Lynch said.
“And on the world stage, President Trump became the first President to talk about the importance of religious freedom at the United Nations, giving hope to people of faith around the world.”
Like her cousin, Graham Lynch also drew on the legacy of her grandfather in her call to voters: “So in the words of my grandfather, Billy Graham: ‘Let us stand for political freedom, moral freedom, religious freedom and the rights of all Americans … and let’s never give in to those who would attempt to take it from us,’” she concluded her speech.
Graham Lynch’s father, Franklin Graham is the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organisation. He is scheduled to pray at the Republican National Convention today.
In doing so, he will repeat the actions of his late father Billy Graham who gave the benediction at the RNC in 1988 – but with one significant difference: Billy Graham also gave the benediction at the Democratic National Convention that same year.
(You can read both of those prayers here).