Dear Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham,
In the 1980s both of your fathers would have been shocked if someone had told them that in 2017, their sons would be arguing character doesn’t count and ends justify the Trump-Moore-GOP means.
Is decency no longer an issue? It was for your fathers.
When I was in the religious right as a leader in the 1970s and 80s, before I fled the movement, I worked with your dads.
I first met you Jerry, when I preached from your dad’s pulpit twice and twice to your entire student body at Liberty U.
Franklin, of course I first met you when we were both nine and your whole family came to my parents’ ministry of L’Abri. In fact I just had a nice breakfast with your sister Gigi, this last July. As you know my mother Edith was best friends with your wonderful mother Ruth.
For instance it was your dad Franklin that as I write in my new book Letter to Lucy: A Manifesto of Creative Redemption—In the Age of Trump, Fascism and Lies who was a pioneer in fighting racism in America. He also was pro-choice. You support the racist Trump and the far right anti-women crusade but here’s what I write in my book in the first chapter about your far more enlightened, merciful and compassionate father:
Graham refused to join the anti-abortion movement, as I well know: Dad and I tried repeatedly to personally talk him into joining our cause in the late 1970s, to no avail. Many evangelicals besides Graham had been pro-choice, including the famous two-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. W. A. Criswell (1909–2002). He was a pastor, author, and patriarch of the “Conservative Resurgence” within the SBC and a friend of my father’s. Questioned in 1973 about the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, Criswell replied the same way he did to Dad and me in person, “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person, and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed” (“How the Evangelical Church Awoke to the Abortion Issue: The Convergent Labors of Harold O. J. Brown, Francis Schaeffer, and C. Everett Koop” by Matthew Miller, Reformation 21, March 2013).
This was a common attitude among evangelicals until the late 1970s, when the public debate on abortion made it a highly charged political issue. It was my father who talked Criswell into changing his mind. In fact, Dad twisted his arm. Criswell faced so much pressure from Dad and me and those we stirred up to hound him that he eventually came out as anti-abortion.
When it comes to racism I write:
In 1952 the Reverend Billy Graham decided to stop holding segregated crusades. He faced shrill criticism for this decision, but with the guidance of King and other leaders such as Reverend Howard Jones, Graham changed the face of religion in America as we know it. Are we going to let Trump undo Dr. Graham’s Christlike life’s work?”
Franklin today we need evangelical leaders like your father (as I fondly remember him) who exemplify arguments that elevate principle above expediency, institutions that shape character, confront corruption, take the side of the exploited. Many Republicans used to believe in this too. And your dad was not an exception. Even you once aspired to helping the poor.
The evangelical Roy Moore-supporters/GOP argument that ethics must be ignored in the process of doing “great work” in the world is what brings institutions into disrepute. The Catholic Church covered up sexual depredation on that justification. And you Jerry Jr., and Franklin, are presiding over the destruction of Christ’s witness on earth using that justification to your followers.
Those GOP/Trumped leaders like you who say “Let the voters of Alabama decide” or “Trump is a slime but he’s appointing great judges” are applying popular sovereignty to a matter of basic Christian morality. In fact you both have denied the very platform Moore pretends to run on: the preeminence of the Bible and biblical morality as the base of true American law.
Trump’s endorsement of Moore was predictable given Trump’s stake in discrediting the credible accusations of powerless assaulted women. The support of the GOP National Committee, not to mention you two, reveals a political party and evangelical movement with no moral standards.
Mark the date gentlemen: December 2017, the GOP slit its wrists and took you and the cause of Christ with them.
Those like you two still willing to swallow all this — the Trump ignorance, cruelty, lies, the Roy Moore creepiness and tax cuts for the rich and anti-poor malice — have truly shown the strength of your partisan commitment: a “purity” indistinguishable from deranged cultist fascist- mania.
Simply put: You and the Republicans now value tax cuts for the rich and so-called conservatives in the judiciary more than the moral and ethical bedrock upon which all law and politics is based in any democracy. All that’s left to you Franklin and Jerry is worship of power.
Trump has dragged America’s values and reputation to the lowest point- ever. If you and the white evangelicals like you, not to mention the Republicans, don’t find your moral and patriotic bearings very soon- it will be America’s actual safety and security that are next to go. You have empowered an unstable delusional madman. This is the most serious crisis modern America has ever faced. You two will have blood on your hands.
You don’t help your cause by wrapping your arms around two sexual predator – Moore/Trump – bigots. The Trumped/GOP/white evangelicals have forever associated the “pro-life” cause with epic moral hypocrisy. The word “evangelical” is discredited for an entire generation. People of color look at the Trump-Moore-GOP-white evangelicals like you both and they’re repulsed.
Franklin: your father’s life’s work has been undone by you. Jerry, your father at his worst (I have some stories to tell!) never imagined that the word “moral” as in “Moral Majority” would be turned into a sordid national joke by his son.
Trump is defined by shamelessness, and so there’s no bottom to reach for those who like you both are falling with him. His only “limit” are the hours of the day he needs to indulge his reckless depravity.
First Trump asked you both to swallow a narcissistic sexual harasser-liar as your new messiah. Then he asked you and the GOP to accept his comprehensive ignorance of politics and his use of the very racial divisions Billy, your dad Franklin, stood against so bravely. Now he asks you and the GOP to become the party of Roy Moore bigotry and child assault. When you were kids is this who you wanted to grow up to be: enablers of evil?
Republicans and their evangelical supporters like you think you are only giving Trump a little piece of yourselves for a “greater good.” But he keeps asking and asking and asking for more. Before long you both will discover too late that Trump now owns your souls.
My daddy made me memorize this verse from the gospel of Mark. I’ll bet yours did too Franklin and Jerry. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”