NC Family President John L. Rustin talks with Franklin Graham, the world renowned Evangelist who serves as the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and evangelism organization, Samaritan’s Purse. They discuss the vital importance of this year’s election, his Decision America tour, and Christian engagement in culture and politics in the future.
INTRODUCTION: Thanks for joining us this week for Family Policy Matters. Our guest today is one of America’s greatest evangelists, Franklin Graham, who serves as the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and the international evangelism organization, Samaritan’s Purse. Franklin is currently in the middle of a major nationwide tour calling Christians across the United States to pray for our nation, and the 2016 Decision America Tour will end right here in North Carolina on October 13th. We are excited to have the opportunity to talk with Franklin Graham about that today. Franklin, welcome to Family Policy Matters.
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: Thank you, it’s good to be with you.
JOHN RUSTIN: It’s great to have you with us. Now Franklin, since January you have been crisscrossing the United States on the 2016 Decision America Tour. What are you hoping to accomplish on this tour, and what ever possessed you to add traveling to every state in the nation to an already incredibly busy schedule and list of priorities?
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: Our country’s in trouble and there’s no party or political group that can turn this thing around, only God can turn it around. And we’re going to all 50 state capitals to hold prayer meetings, and these are prayer rallies and we spend you know 15-20 minutes of prayer, then I give the gospel message, I give an invitation, we have hundreds of people that get saved at every capital (that’s wonderful), and then I encourage people to vote because we as Christians in the last presidential election estimate between 20-30 million evangelical Christians did not vote, the problems we have is the lack of the Christian voice. I want them to pray about each candidate, to examine the issues and then make sure they go to the poles and vote.
JOHN RUSTIN: That is wonderful. Now the theme of the Decision America Tour is 2 Chronicles 7:14, which is: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Franklin, what does this verse mean to you personally, and why is it so significant to this effort you have undertaken?
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: No political system or political party can turn this thing around. Both political parties are responsible for the mess that we’re in and the only hope for the United States of America is God, and God works through His people, and that’s why I believe it’s critical at this election, this may be the last opportunity we have in this country because there are such huge issues in front of us. And I remind people as they contemplate voting it’s not about personality, and the media wants us to focus on the personality of the candidates and the tone of the candidates. Both candidates have flawed personalities, but it’s not about the candidates’ personalities, it’s about the Supreme Court. And this is the issue that everyone has to understand, this election is about the Supreme Court because the Supreme Court is going to effect this nation, this next Court, maybe for the next 100 years, because the next president, whoever that person is, is going to appoint a Supreme Court justice within the first 30 days of being in office, and then the possibility of five more justices in their term, and that is so important. Which of the candidates do you trust to appoint Supreme Court Justices that are not going to be activists but are going to be constitutionalists? Men and women that stand behind the Constitution and will defend the Constitution.
JOHN RUSTIN: Absolutely, and such an important message, and it really, really is a critical election. Now Franklin, printed on the side of the Decision America Tour bus are the words: Pray. Vote. and Engage. Why is that combination so important, and why is the order of those words important?
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: We pray, and no question we need to vote, but I’m also encouraging people to engage. I think Christians need to run for political office. We’ve seen no question, if you just take in North Carolina, the majority of mayors across our state were born again men and women of God, do you think that would have an impact on Raleigh? Of course it would. If you had the majority of our legislators born again men and women of God, both parties, do you believe that this would have an impact on our state? No question it would. And so I am encouraging people to run for office, and not just the state level but I’m thinking of the local level, especially school boards. We as Christians need to take control of the school boards. The secularists and people that call themselves progressives get on school boards and they bring in this godless material, wicked material that they want to poison the minds of our students with, and I want Christians to get on school boards who’ve got a thick skin, who can fight back, so that when a progressive holds up a book that’s pornographic and says we believe that our students need to read this book this year, that born again men and women of God will stand up on the school boards and say no, we’re not going to approve that, that’s trash, that’s going to poison the minds of our young people and we’re not going to support it. And we need school board members who will be thick skinned, tough, and who will fight for our students, and fight for our communities. And so we need Christians at every level of government, County Commissioners, every level we need men and women of God getting involved in politics, we need the Christian voice to be heard across this land.
JOHN RUSTIN: That is so important. And we often see kind of the stepping stone, those local offices like the school board, the city council, the board of commissioners on the county level, those individuals very often run for the state legislature and then for Congress. And those folks make a world of difference, and they really speak God’s truth in love in those arenas of influence that they have, and that is so so important. Franklin, how do you respond to naysayers, some of whom are quite frankly, pastors and other faith leaders, who contend that Christians should not get involved in politics and public policy?
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: That’s where I have a strong disagreement with these people. We have every right to be involved. The gays and lesbians get their candidates to run and they have a right to do that, but we as Christians have a right to get our candidates to run. And so this is America, we have a freedom to do that, we have a freedom to speak out. Our forefathers when they gave us our Constitution, they never intended for us to leave our faith out on the steps of the Capitol if we went into the Capitol to serve in government. We are Christians and we need to take our faith into the Capitol, we need to take them into the city hall, we need to take them into the school boards . Our forefathers intended us to keep our faith and to use our faith and let our faith influence us, but our forefathers did not want us to come under the control of one dominant denomination, like in Europe, where our forefathers came from. If you were French it was the Catholic church that ran France, if you were German it was the Lutheran church that ran Germany, if you were from England it was the Church of England, and our forefathers did not want to have one denomination running our country. They said that we have the freedom of religion and that is what we have, we have the freedom to worship God how we see fit. And freedom of religion is for me to live my faith, it’s not just to go and worship on Sunday, but it’s to live it 24/7 and the progressives want to change our constitution to say that it’s not the freedom of religion, it’s the freedom of worship. We [they] want to restrict our freedom to worship to church building and not to live it 24/7, and they want to take the Christian voice out of the public square, and that’s what they’re trying to do. So, pastors that have succumbed to this, they have just given up and I would encourage them guys to get out there and fight and stand up for your rights and let our voice be heard, let’s take control of our communities and we need the pastor’s voice. If you take 100 years ago the pastors were the political leaders in our communities and our country was much better for it. Today the politicians have been very good at trying to squelch the voice, the government wants to squelch the voice of the church. And they tried to do that in Eastern Europe, they tried to do it in Russia, and we’re seeing this around the world, China as well, and they’re going to try to do that in this country. And it will happen if we don’t stand up and vote and get involved.
JOHN RUSTIN: And as Christians look to get involved, are there, from your perspective, some key principles that Christians should keep in mind when it comes to involvement and engagement in politics and public policy?
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: First of all, the bible is our roadmap. It’s our guiding light. And so every time we make a policy, every time we should vote on something, we need to look at what does the bible have to say, what’s the teachings of God on these issues, and we really need to follow God’s instructions. And if you take House Bill 2, this is a perfect example where the mayor in Charlotte, misguided, misdirected, passed that ordinance trying to force the bathrooms, the most private space for an individual is the bathroom, and to try to force that to a person to open it up for a person of another sex who just would think for that day a man could say I’m a woman and go in to a woman’s bathroom, or to a child’s locker-room at school, is ridiculous, so God made us male and female, so if the mayor had just simply looked at what does God have to say, He made us male and female, we are two distinct groups, that’s the way he made us and we should be making our laws based on this, and not on person’s personal feeling or some perverted person who is trying to twist and get themselves in to a girls locker-room. And that’s what so shameful about this. The mayor in Charlotte and the city council, if they had just looked at God’s word we would have avoided this whole issue.
JOHN RUSTIN: You are absolutely right, and it is truly shameful what is happening and what we’re seeing take place in our state now with respect to House Bill 2. As we get to the end of our conversation Franklin, there seems to be a lot of confusion about the kinds of activities that churches can engage in during an election year. The Decision America Tour has resources available specifically for churches, regarding this. Talk a little bit about that if you would and sort of clear the air for our listeners about what churches and Christians can do as they seek to become involved and engaged in the political process?
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: First of all if I were a pastor of a church I would make sure that everybody in my congregation was registered to vote, and then I would make sure that every person in my church understood the issues, the candidates and the issues that were before us, and where they stood morally, spiritually and in relationship to the church, that’s what I would do. And you don’t have to tell people who to vote for, but just lay out the facts and let people see for themselves. You see these two candidates are not close, there is a big difference that is before us, there’s two completely different visions for America. Two completely different courses that these that these candidates have laid out. And so it’s not like you flip a coin, A or B, this is clear. And if I were a pastor I would lay out what each candidate stands for. I would lay out what each party stands for, not just the candidates but the party. And we have done this with Decision Magazine, and if a person wants that they can go to our website and we’ll be glad to send them a copy of Decision Magazine. And we have laid out for the churches, where each candidate stands, and let them decide how to vote. Again, we’re not telling people how to vote, but just go ahead and lay out the issues, lay out the truth and let people make up their own minds.
JOHN RUSTIN: On that note I’ll put a plug in for our 2016 General Election Voter Guide that the North Carolina Family Policy Council has produced, and it is chockfull of information about candidates running, from the top of the ticket, the US Senate, down to the entire state legislature, governor, council of state, judicial races in North Carolina, etc. so for our listeners we certainly encourage them to avail themselves of that information so that they can be well informed. Well Franklin, as we close I want to thank you so much for your time, but also give you an opportunity to let our listeners know where they can go to learn more about the Decision America Tour, and I want to encourage them personally, and I know that you would join me as well, in inviting North Carolinians from across the state to participate in the last stop of the Decision America Tour on October 13, at the Capitol grounds in Raleigh, North Carolina. We want as many folks to come to show their support, but most importantly to join in prayer, as you have stated so well and so clearly, this is such a vital time for our state and our nation and we need to band together in prayer and pray that the Lord will have mercy on our lands. So Franklin, where can people go to learn more about the Decision America Tour?
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: They can go to billygraham.org and see all the information there as far as Decision Magazine, but also where to get the information on America Tour. We’ve got again in Raleigh, it’s gonna be October 13, this will be the last last one, and I hope people will come, it will be at 12 noon on the Capitol steps and we’re going to start off in prayer and joining hands, regardless of what political party you belong to, come and let’s stand, we hold hands together and we pray. And we pray for the candidates, we pray for our nation, and we pray that God will forgive the sins, and that’s what we do, we start off confessing our sins, asking God to forgive the sins of our nation, forgive our sins personally. And then we want our land to be healed. But, I believe that we, the church, we know God hears the prayer of one person, but thousands of people standing on the Capitol steps praying to God, I believe God will hear those prayers and answer those prayers.
JOHN RUSTIN: Franklin Graham I want to thank you so much for being with us on Family Policy Matters, for your time and for your incredibly important work and commitment to engaging the culture by educating and motivating Christians to live out their faith in all areas of their life, including the political and public policy arena. We pray that God will richly bless you in your efforts, and we look forward to seeing you at the Capitol steps in Raleigh on October 13. And again, I want to extend an invitation for all our listeners to come as well and join us there.
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: Thank you very much.
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