Billy Graham made headlines with a new pre-2012 election PR campaign encouraging Christians to vote biblically on Nov. 6.
In full-page advertisements in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, Graham said: “The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this Nov. 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.”
The words of the legendary Baptist’s advertisement carry significant weight. There is perhaps no living Christian leader who speaks with more authority than Graham. The timing, too, of the advertisements is also significant, as it comes on the heels of his meeting with and pledge of support as a private citizen of Mitt Romney.
Predictably, reactions to the advertisement have been mixed. Many fear that Graham is being too political. Others say that if times like these do not require good men to speak out on public policy and elections, what times would?
Aside from those calculations, it is most interesting to key in on Graham’s idea to “vote for biblical values.” The two hot-button issues which he explicitly states are life and marriage. Indeed positions on these issues are what divide us as a nation; they also unite many Christians who may normally not be together, such as Evangelicals and Catholics.
The hallmark of Graham’s storied life is his commitment to the spread of the Gospel. Though he acted as counselor to multiple U.S. Presidents and walked amid the hallway of power in the Nation’s capital, Graham was not an especially outspoken voice on abortion on sexual issues or a magnet for political controversy.
While countless pastors gained headlines for political statements, Graham simply preached than men must be born-again, with John 3:16 as the critical verse. Over time, Graham has garnered the respect of citizens and leaders across the nation and world.
Time will tell if this level of involvement in politics will affect Graham. None can deny, however, the indelible mark of his life on America and for the Kingdom of God.
In calling for biblical voting and speaking to the abortion issue, I cannot help being reminded of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who in February 1994, spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast. With a who’s who in the audience, Mother Teresa, universally admired for her life’s work for the poor, spoke forcefully against abortion. She said, “But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.”
Speaking truth to power is a risky venture. John the Baptist ended up with his head on a platter for doing such. These days, a good reputation can be altered with a single public statement.
Regardless of whether we think Graham ought to have stepped into the political fray in 2012 (or at any time) does not detract from this idea of voting biblically. Republicans, Democrats, Independents and non-party affiliated Christians alike can wrap their minds around thinking and voting biblically. Each of us should ponder what that means for Nov. 6 and beyond.