Evangelist Franklin Graham reacted this week to controversy over a cross that has been removed from atop an Indiana town’s Christmas tree, accusing the American Civil Liberties Union of wanting to “remove God from everything.”
Graham posted a statement to Facebook just before the Knightstown Town Council decided to take down the cross — an act that came in response to a lawsuit from a local man named Joseph Tompkins and the ACLU; both parties claimed the cross’ presence on public property was a violation of the First Amendment.
With that in mind, the evangelist opened his comments by proclaiming, “The war on Christmas is still on!”
Though Graham expressed his view that the complaint against the cross is absurd, the evangelist, who heads both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, said Christians shouldn’t be surprised.
“The (complainant) said he is being forced to have ‘unwelcome contact’ with the cross and it has caused him irreparable harm. Give me a break,” Graham wrote. “We shouldn’t really be surprised by this. The Bible says Jesus Christ would be a ‘stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense’ to many. ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’ (1 Cor. 1:18).”
Graham said he hoped the town would “stand strong” and defend the “true meaning of Christmas,” though, as Faithwire previously reported, officials ultimately decided to remove the cross, citing a costly legal battle with the ACLU that the local government felt it simply couldn’t afford; the evangelist has not yet reacted to that updated detail.
“The ACLU wants to remove God from everything—our constitution doesn’t require that,” he continued. “Jesus Christ came to earth to pay the penalty of sin for mankind on the cross. That’s what CHRISTmas is all about!”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 13, 2016
Many of the residents in Knightstown agree with Graham, waging protests outside the tree, and placing crosses on their lawns and in store windows in a show of solidarity. Read more about the cross’ removal here.
Graham also appeared on Fox News on Tuesday to discuss his support for saying “Merry Christmas,” explaining why he has no plans to use the more generic “Happy Holidays” greeting.
“For Christmas, this is a Christian holiday. But what the world is, they hate the name of Christ and that’s why they want to take Christ out of Christmas,” he said. “They want to say Happy Holidays. But I’m going to leave Christ’s name in it, because it’s his birthday. This is a Christian holiday.”
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