Billy Graham takes rare dip into politics, praises Romney’s ‘strong moral convictions’
Co-authored with John Jalsevac
October 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - After thirty-eight years and ten presidential elections, Billy Graham has broken his policy of staying out of politics, meeting with the Republican candidate and signing off on newspaper ads encouraging voters to “vote biblical values.”
“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,” the full-page advertisements read. “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.”
The ads come shortly after Graham met with Mitt Romney at his North Carolina home. In a statement following that visit, Graham praised Romney’s “values and strong moral convictions.”
Dr. Graham largely disavowed politics after Nixon’s Watergate scandal broke. Since then, the importance of his ministry has outweighed politics.
But now, according Dr. Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, things have changed. Dr. Graham is “the leading edge of a large group of Americans who really do believe it’s not only the most important election of this generation, but probably since Lincoln,” said Land.
Gary Bauer, the president of the American Family Association, agreed. “Americans have a stark choice between competing world views,” he told LifeSiteNews. “Barack Obama is the most pro-abortion president in history. He is using the power of big government to compel religious institutions, charities and Christian-owned businesses to violate their values.”
Adding to Evangelical grievances against the president, Dr. Land pointed to Obama’s endorsement of same-sex ‘marriage’ and his refusal to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. “It’s his job to enforce the law, not to determine constitutionality of a law,” said Land.
But even if Evangelicals clearly do not stand with Obama, it does not mean they necessarily stand with his Republican challenger. While Evangelicals who have pledged to vote by and large favor Mr. Romney, a poll from July found one out of four white Evangelics were “uncomfortable” with Romney’s Mormonism. The trick for the Romney campaign is to convince those voters to show up at the voting booth on Election Day.
After meeting with the Romney campaign, Graham removed references to Mormonism as a “cult” from his ministry’s website. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association explained in a statement that “we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”
Dr. Graham has not gone so far as his son Franklin in issuing a formal endorsement, instead focusing on values, trusting that voters can figure it out from there. However, his political efforts are significant nevertheless.
“I deeply appreciate Billy Graham’s clarion call to men and women of faith,” says Bauer. “America’s pastor is speaking to us with the urgency of an Old Testament prophet. I pray we heed his advice. As the last four years have demonstrated, elections have consequences.”
“I’m always delighted to have Dr. Graham’s perspective and guidance on any issue,” added Dr. Land. “If there were an Evangelical Mount Rushmore, we’d put Billy’s face on it.”