Evangelist and son of the late Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, is no stranger to a bit of controversy. Despite refusing to officially endorse Donald Trump as the Republican Presidential nominee, he has made his support for the billionaire abundantly clear since he took office. As raindrops peppered the shoulders of the newly inaugurated President, Graham took to the podium to declare that this was a “sign of God’s blessing” upon the newly elected leader of the free world. Fiercely pro-life and conservative in his views, there is no surprise that Graham is a big fan of many of Trump’s policy positions.
Indeed, Trump himself has returned the compliment. “Having Franklin Graham, who was so instrumental, we won so big, with evangelical Christians,” the President once said at a rally in Alabama. Trump also bestowed a tremendous honor to Franklin’s father, the late Billy Graham, by arranging for his coffin to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.
But what about the President’s questionable personal life? As a pastor and reverend, many argue that Graham has a God-ordained duty to call out Trump’s reported promiscuity. Apparently not, according to a recent interview with the Associated Press — and that has got him into a lot of trouble.
In the widely shared remarks, Rev. Graham noted that President Trump’s alleged affair with Stormy Daniels was, in fact, “nobody’s business.”
“I don’t have concern, in a sense, because these things happened many years ago — and there’s such bigger problems in front of us as a nation that we need to be dealing with than other things in his life a long time ago,” Graham added.
But that’s not what has got the internet so hot under the collar. It was Graham’s remarks on former President Bill Clinton’s affairs of the 1990s that really grated on viewers.
“I think some of these things — that’s for him and his wife to deal with,” Graham explained. “I think when the country went after President Clinton, the Republicans, that was a great mistake that should never have happened. And I think the same with Stormy Daniels and so forth is nobody’s business. And we’ve got other business at hand that we need to deal with.”
But Franklin himself was one of those who “went after” Clinton following the infamous Monica Lewinsky scandal.
In a 1998 piece for the Wall Street Journal, Franklin wrote:
“Much of America seems to have succumbed to the notion that what a person does in private has little bearing on his public actions or job performance, even if he is the president of the United States.
But the God of the Bible says that what one does in private does matter. Mr. Clinton’s months-long extramarital sexual behavior in the Oval Office now concerns him and the rest of the world, not just his immediate family. If he will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?”
It goes without saying that this remark has been thoroughly shared on social media, sparking utter pandemonium across the Twittersphere.
“If [Bill Clinton] will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?” –@Franklin_Graham, 1998
"[Trump's] thing with Stormy Daniels is nobody’s business." –@Franklin_Graham, 2018
Well, which is it? #PartisanPolitics?
— Brian Zahnd (@BrianZahnd) May 6, 2018
Many have accused Graham of applying a blatant double standard in his judgment of the two presidents, with others chiding him for his unashamed engagement in partisan politics. But is this a political affiliation that he will come to deeply regret?
“I think it likely that, as his father’s relationship with Richard Nixon proved to be a low point in his long ministry, Franklin’s relationship with President Trump will come to embarrass him,” said William Martin, author of “A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story,” as reported by CBS News.
— Gabe #DreamActNow Ortíz (@TUSK81) May 6, 2018
I can’t even with this hypocrisy…
Evangelicals weren’t this forgiving of Clinton’s transgressions or anyone else’s for that matter. @Franklin_Graham is disgracing his father’s name… https://t.co/HD8KxtzL0Z
— Tara Setmayer (@TaraSetmayer) May 5, 2018
“A repentant spirit that says, ‘I’m sorry. I was wrong. I won’t do it again. I ask for your forgiveness,’ would go a long way toward personal and national healing,” Graham wrote of Clinton in 1998.
So, the question remains, why isn’t this vastly influential evangelical figure highlighting that our current, scandal-ridden president is also in desperate need of forgiveness?