Some say that it is bad form to speak ill of the dead. I view it as even worse form, however, to rewrite history and avoid the truth about public figures, especially when the truth involves bigotry and self-enrichment. While much of the mainstream media is engaged something akin to self-felatio in mourning over the death of Billy Graham - I omit the designation "Reverend" since I hold bible colleges and the Southern Baptist Convention in very low esteem - very little is being said about the ugly side of Graham who was a homophobe, a make chauvinist, and an anti-Semite. Yes, unlike most Southern Baptists of his era, Graham disavowed outright segregation, but that hardly merits forgiving his other transgressions against decency. It also bears remembering that Graham set the model for today's self-enriching scamvangelists - i.e., so called pastors and evangelists who laugh all the way to the bank - and played a role in evangelical Christians' toxic role in American politics. A piece in The Raw Story looks at the ugly underbelly of Graham's "career." Here are excerpts:
Graham is getting tributes from all corners right now. And he deserves praise for supporting the civil rights movement, supporting Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment and embracing Muhammad Ali during the fall-out of his conversion to Islam. All those good deeds will be covered in great detail today.
But while Graham certainly did many great things, he also said and did some awful things. And because he was so respected, his deeds were very influential.
Graham helped normalize ultra-rich pastors. Graham’s wealth, and focus on more wealth, was modest compared to the televangelists preaching the prosperity gospel today. His net worth was estimated at $25 million.
Graham once preached that AIDS was the judgement of God. “Is AIDS a judgment of God? . . . Graham quickly backtracked on this one, saying that he didn’t believe that and didn’t know why he said it. Nevertheless, this dog-whistle was heard by too many.
Graham wrote a memo to President Nixon urging him to commit a war crime in Vietnam. Unlike many Christian leaders, Graham supported a very specific military strategy in the Vietnam war. He wanted Nixon to use nuclear weapons to destroy the dikes that manage flooding in North Vietnam. This plan was something Henry Kissinger dismissed as “just too much.”
Graham was anti-Semitic. . . . . For example, after taped conversations revealed that Graham made anti-Semitic statements to President Nixon. Specifically, he told the president that Jews control the media, and that this was dangerous: “This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country’s going down the drain.” Nixon agreed with this, and Graham suggested that if he got elected to a second term “we might be able to do something.” Graham would later point out that he had Jewish friends.
Graham had backward views on women. He criticized feminism, and is the namesake of that weird rule that Mike Pence lives by, never spending any time alone with any woman besides his wife.
Graham raised his boy wrong. In his 1997 autobiography, Graham was regretful of his involvement in politics, writing that, “If I had to do it all over again, I would also avoid any semblance of involvement in partisan politics… And yet, Graham failed to impart this wisdom on his son Franklin Graham, who took over the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and who has taken the lead in defending and legitimizing Donald Trump to evangelicals.
The comment in the piece about Graham's son is an understatement as to the lengths Franklin Graham has thrown aside supposed "Christian" values in supporting Trump, Roy Moore and other morally bankrupt Republicans. His sister Ann Graham Lotz is no better and fully fits the scamvangelist model established by her father who made being a "professional Christian" a route to personal financial wealth. Graham and his children excelled at claiming the Bible inerrant yet ignored any passages not supportive of their personal and political agendas.
One of Billy Graham's last public acts was in 2012 - possible under his son's coercion - when he was trotted out to endorse North Carolina's Amendment 1 that banned marriage equality. As a piece in Huffington Post by an activist friend notes, Graham's statement appeared in full page ads in 14 newspapers across North Carolina. Graham was no friend to the LGBT community and he was no supporter of equality under the law.