October 28, 2001
Not a Fan
I'm running the risk tonight of angering some of you, by saying I am not a fan of Billy Graham. Nor do I care for his son, Franklin. And I do not have high regard for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Oh, I don't lump the Grahams in the same heap as the recently Satanically-darted man up in Lynchburg, but if the Grahams were to both stop preaching this very day, I wouldn't miss them in the least. In fact, I'd be glad they had found other things to do with their time.
What has me thinking about them tonight is that Franklin, the heir to the BG throne, was one of the speakers at the Memorial Service in New York City today, and was mentioned on a newscast as representing the "Christians." (That may come as news indeed to the Roman Catholic Cardinal Edward Egan.) Admitttedly, it isn't Mr. Graham's fault that a reporter made an error. But it reminded me once again of the sucking-up to people named Graham that happens way too often to suit me.
I don't get why these two people are so popular. I don't get why the various congregations in the United States are so willing to kowtow to the whims of the Association whenever a crusade is in the offing.
This is not meant as a rant about theology, although their take on being Christian differs significantly from mine. It's more about the way the ministry is run, and what is asked of local congregations so they'll be in the Association's good graces.
A few years ago, a Lutheran congregation back home was exhorted to supply people for the crusade held in Charlotte. If this exhortation followed the same lines of the one issued when there was a smaller crusade in Chapel Hill in the 1980's, it included comments about how congregations needed to properly support the Association's efforts so that they would receive referrals of those who responded to altar calls. That strikes me as being more a blackmail tactic than one encouraging ecumenism, and definitely is a factor in my not being too impressed with the setup.
I'm not sure how many of the Chapel Hill congregations did whatever consisted of properly supporting, but I suspect that tactic didn't go over well in this area. We're known for being a stubborn little county, with good reason. For some reason, the pastor back home thought giving the support was a brilliant idea, and pushed and prodded and tried to lay a guilt trip on congregation members who did not want to have anything to do with the decidedly non-Lutheran take on theology that these crusades are.
He failed, for the most part. And he lost some respect as a result, mine included. Which means I'm not a fan of his, either.