Missy Beattie, a former instructor at Johns Hopkins, wrote a recent piece that, at first, seemed to be a Rachel Maddow basher. But then she cited a segment on Maddow’s left-wing show that criticized evangelist Franklin Graham for “decrying” John Boehner thus: “You had no business calling Ted Cruz ‘Lucifer in the flesh’—this is an embarrassment. And it’s an embarrassment to our nation.” She went on with a rant about Graham and beyond.
“Has this hypocrite ever once demonstrated insight into the real shame of the nation? The shame of war, the shame of trampling countries, the shame of creating humanitarian crises, the shame of exterminating men, women, children to advance imperialist foreign police, (sic) and the shame of domestic inequality? No, Graham’s gift is to pontificate racism, fear, and hatred, the antithesis of the Christ’s teachings.”
Okay, for openers, Beattie disliked Boehner’s nom de guerre for Ted Cruz, whom Boehner clearly despises. Cruz, remember, was willing to close down the government while, arguably, it was Boehner’s job to keep it running. Boehner was eventually kicked out of his position as Speaker of the House which Cruz and his Tea Party allies facilitated.
I question where Graham fits into this fight. Apparently, before suspending his campaign for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States, Cruz was capturing the majority of votes by self-proclaimed evangelicals. Before that, however, they supported candidates Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee. I wonder on whom Graham’s blessing will fall in the one man show that remains in the Republican circus tent. I also question who cares what Franklin Graham has to say at all.
To Beattie’s paragraph of which I agree 100% I would add a question about the appropriate relationship between church and state. This never posed a real problem for Graham’s father Billy who met with–and allegedly advised–all modern presidents, most notably Ronald Reagan and both Bushes. I wonder what role Graham the Elder played in his meetings with commanders-in-chief: consoler, conspirer, condoner, forgiver, admonisher, elder statesman, brother at heart? We will never know. So I wonder again: who cares what Graham the Younger has to say about politicians?
Worse. Clergy despoil their clerical garb when they roll in the mud with politicians. Men and women of the cloth have the same rights as any other American citizen, including the right to assemble. Note that the Reverend brothers Berrigan protested war and other evils in the street, not from the pulpit. They committed civil acts of disobedience and, by the way, experienced arrest and incarceration for their actions. And they would be the first to admit that talking the talk, while presiding over a religious rite, about the walk they were walking would be totally wrong.
My problem with fundamentalists of any stripe, religious or political, is that they tend to oversimplify complex matters. There is no easy answer to immigration problems in this country, for example. There is no easy way to unpin our World Police badge and bring American troops back home where they belong. There is no hope for peace while we spend so much time fighting.
Franklin Graham, instead of ascending the mountain to express your indignation at name calling, perhaps you could come down the mountain arm in arm with Moses. Considered a prophet by three of the world’s most populated religions–Muslims, Christians, and Jews–you might run a seminar entitled “What Would Moses Do?” I’ll bet he wouldn’t care what a person’s organized religious preference was nor th3eir political affiliation. I’ll bet he would encourage us all to seek the land of milk and honey and rejoice together when we get there.