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Opening Insights: “our country is in trouble” – Rev. Graham

America will not be destroyed from the outside.
If we falter and lose our freedom,
it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

Many years have passed since our once-great nation experienced such an acute divide and sense of internal unrest. Rather than seek an interest by which to unite us all, Americans further entrench themselves in divisive and exclusive groups.

Many search for a cause by which to unite around. Once before, that cause was America herself. We have forgotten what America is. Rather than identifying as “American” they choose a side and strike out fiercely at all those on the other side of the their line.

Leaders with a message of strength and unity, like the Reverend Franklin Graham, are attracting the interest of many. These individuals remember America for what she used to be, and still could be, if we ever decide to cease our petty squabbles.

Rev. Graham’s urging for Americans to handle problems we all share reaches beyond faith, beyond politics and parties, and beckons to the hearts and minds of patriots across the nation.

Informational Insights: Can We be United?

The following article was published by the Associated Press, “an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City.” It was written by Elana Schor, “a national reporter covering the intersection of religion and politics.”

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Rev. Franklin Graham did not utter the word “impeachment” as he spoke to thousands of Christians here this week, the latest stop on a long-running tour he has dubbed Decision America — a title with political and religious undertones.

But evangelicals who turned out to see Graham didn’t necessarily need his warning that “our country is in trouble” in order to tap into their deep-rooted support for President Donald Trump during an intensifying political crisis hundreds of miles north in Washington.

“I do feel like we are, as Christians, the first line of defense for the president,” Christina Jones, 44, said before Graham took the stage. Trump is “supporting our Christian principles and trying to do his best,” she added, even as “everybody’s against him.”

The impeachment furor is the latest test of Trump’s seemingly unbreakable bond with conservative evangelical Christians. Trump suggested this week that the peril of impeachment would only cement his ties to that voting bloc, which helped propel him into office, and supporters who have stood by him through accusations of sexual assault and infidelity see no reason to back away from a president they view as unfairly beleaguered.

Frances Lassiter, 65, dismissed Democrats’ pursuit of a case against Trump as “all a bunch of crap” designed to push him from office.

Asked about comments Trump circulated from an ally and Southern Baptist pastor who warned of a “civil war-like fracture” if the investigation succeeds, Lassiter and others in the crowd at Graham’s tour shared concerns about political polarization putting further strain on the country.

“Could have a war … you just don’t know,” Lassiter said. “It’s scary.”

Graham sounded a similar note in an interview with The Associated Press aboard his tour bus. The 67-year-old evangelist and son of the late Rev. Billy Graham said the inquiry into Trump’s solicitation of help from Ukrainian leaders in investigating former Vice President Joe Biden was “a lot over nothing.”

“It’s going to destroy this country if we let this continue,” Graham said of the impeachment investigation, urging Americans “to come together as a nation and focus on the problems” that beset both parties, such as immigration and international trade.

Graham sought to keep his tour, which he opened in 2016 and took to a half-dozen northeastern states earlier this year, separate from politics. But he also openly echoed arguments Trump has made in pressing unfounded Ukraine-related corruption allegations against Biden.

Trump has tried to sully Biden in scandal, questioning his Democratic rival’s role steering the Obama administration’s relationship with Kyiv while son Hunter Biden sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. Although some anti-corruption watchdogs raised eyebrows, no evidence of improper actions by the Democratic presidential hopeful or his son has materialized.

Graham, for his part, encouraged Trump and others to keep looking, citing the vice president’s son’s acknowledged drug addiction as a reason Hunter Biden is “suspect.”

“So it’s probably worth looking into to see what Vice President Biden (did) at the time, what kind of promises he made to help his son with the Ukrainians.”

According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 13,800 people attended Graham’s Wednesday event in Greenville, seat of a county that Trump won in 2016. Greenville also hosted a July Trump rally where the audience broke into a derogatory chant against a freshman congresswoman who had drawn Trump’s ire. The strong turnout for Graham underscores the formidable reach of the evangelist’s message in his home and occasional swing state of North Carolina.

And the programming was as festive as it was introspective. Graham’s group counseled the faithful after a Christian singer performed live and the night ended with a fireworks display.

Graham’s preaching tour featured another touch, one more reminiscent of a political rally: counter-programming from evangelicals on the left. An hour outside of Greenville, a group of progressive Christians led by Rev. William Barber and his Poor People’s Campaign held a “Red Letter Revival” this week to offer an alternate vision of policymaking aligned with Biblical values.

That revival aims to redefine public understanding of issues of faith, encompassing an inclusive immigration agenda as well as more focus on helping the poor and the environment, explained Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, a liberal evangelical preacher helping to organize it.

Wilson-Hartgrove described Graham’s tour as a “coordinated effort to intertwine” religion and conservative politics. While he had little hope that supportive evangelicals would abandon the president for “personally offensive” actions  — Trump used profanity to slam Democrats this week — Wilson-Hartgrove cast impeachment as “a moral question.”

“Does a president of any party have a sort of unquestioned right to, in this case, break (Federal Election Commission) rules and to break the law in order to win an election?” Wilson-Hartgrove asked in an interview. “It’s a question of right and wrong which people of faith should have concerns about.”

In the crowd at Graham’s tour, which will stop in six more North Carolina cities over the next 10 days, believers had reserved their concern for Trump’s Democratic antagonists.

“They’re just digging things up and making things up just to try to take him down, and I don’t think that’s fair,” said Mike Fitzgerald, 64.

That sentiment tracks with polling which shows an overwhelming majority of white evangelical Protestants consistently expressing approval of Trump’s handling of his job since his inauguration. Even among white evangelicals, those who attend church weekly have been just as or even more likely to approve of the president over the course of his term, according to Pew Research Center data.

In August, a Pew Research survey found 77% of white evangelical Protestants approving of Trump’s performance. Those who report attending church weekly were more likely to approve than those who attend less often, 81% versus 73%.

Graham has said that he invites all races, religions and sexual orientations to hear him, although he has aired anti-LGBTQ views. He reiterated them when asked about Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., a married gay man and devout Christian seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

Graham’s father, a renowned preacher who died last year, aired regrets later in his life about having “sometimes crossed the line” in his involvement in politics.

Franklin Graham said he is cognizant of his late father’s perspective, averring that “you want to be careful, because politicians are going to want to use you.”

But he did not appear to count Trump in that judgment: “One thing I appreciate about President Trump, he’s not a politician. And that’s why he gets in trouble all the time,” Graham said.

This article originally appeared on ASSOCIATED PRESS: Rev. Graham’s tour evokes evangelical support for Trump

Possibilities for Consideration: The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

Little is revealed by the words a man speaks, as an impassioned tongue escapes the mind’s discipline.
The tongue moves on its own while the feet and hands are led by the heart.

To know a man’s heart, examine his path.

If the parties fight and one should destroy the other, is it not America who is weakened? A wise man once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Then, those who disagreed with his position killed him, as if to prove his point. Another wise man said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, it is we who repeat history.”

Who is to blame for our current division? Is it the politicians who quarrel like a pen full of squirming toddlers? Or does the blame lie with us, we the people who voted them into office? Maybe now is a good time to ask ourselves, who is educating who?

Take a moment and examine…

  • As you reviewed the material above, what stood out to you?
  • What is the potential impact, economically and/or socially?
  • What action is needed to stop or support this idea?
  • You may want to consider whether you:
    • want to be aware of,
    • should become supportive of,
    • would want to be active in this topic?

Add Your Insight

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Being willing is not enough; we must do.


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