CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- On the day of his father’s 94th birthday, and the day after the country re-elected President Barack Obama president, evangelist Franklin Graham gave two-pronged advice to the American people:
Politically, it’s time for the two parties to work more closely.
Yet spiritually, Tuesday’s results sent America further down a “path of destruction.”
“Unless we’re willing to repent for our sins, we will stand in his judgment,” Graham said Wednesday, shortly after leaving a birthday party for his father, evangelist Billy Graham, in Montreat.
“I want to warn America: God is coming around. He will judge sin, and it won’t be pretty.”
In particular, Graham was referring to the re-election of Obama, a man he has accused of “waving his fist before God” by supporting abortion rights and same-sex marriage. Voters in four states Tuesday either passed laws legalizing gay unions or blocked moves to further restrict it.
In May, North Carolina voters passed a so-called marriage amendment, limiting marriage to a man and a woman. Graham does not think it will be the last.
Graham supported Republican Mitt Romney for president. Had the former Massachusetts governor won Tuesday, “the secularization of America would not have stopped, but I think it would have slowed down a little bit,” Graham said. “Many Christians are very concerned about the country’s moral decline, particularly the president’s position on same-sex marriage.”
The threat to the country is clear, he said.
“We have God’s blessing as a nation. Scripture is clear. God blesses countries, but God also brings bedlam when countries turn their back on him. If we don’t obey his laws, he will withdraw his hand of protection.”
In the last weeks of the campaign, Franklin Graham, head of his father’s evangelistic association, bought full-page ads in newspapers in most of the country’s battleground states, including North Carolina. The ads featured an iconic photo of his father, Billy Graham, who told readers to support candidates who support biblical values, including marriage, abortion and the protection of Israel.
The evangelistic association also removed from its website a list of religions it considered cults. The list had included Mormonism, Romney’s church.
Historians accused the younger Graham of using his elderly father for his own political purposes. Conservative Christians also called the removal of the list of cults hypocritical. Many Christians don’t consider Mormons to be members of Christ’s church.
The week before the election, the NAACP and a group of black ministers criticized the advertising campaign. In an open letter to the younger Graham, they suggested that he has been seduced by money and power and has threatened his family’s legacy with his actions.
Earlier this year, Graham questioned Obama’s Christianity and said he did not know if the president is a Muslim or not.
Wednesday, Graham congratulated Obama and called on Americans to come together “to take on the problems that need to be solved. This fighting and being divided isn’t going to work. I hope the president and Congress can work together for all of us.”
Asked if his comments on the country’s moral decline were divisive in nature, Graham said they were a spiritual warning consistent with his call for more political cooperation.
Franklin Graham’s critics also accused him of putting too much emphasis on scriptural references to marriage and homosexuality and not on God’s message to help the poor.
Yet as executive director of Samaritan’s Purse, Graham and his staff are involved in emergency efforts in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Graham says the agency has teams in New York and New Jersey, has spent “several million dollars already and will probably spend another $10 million to $15 million” before year’s end.
“You know, there are some people who talk about helping poor and there are those who just do it. I don’t talk about it, I just do it.”
Asked if he would do anything differently in the next campaign, he said it would be “very similar.”
“I think moral standards and biblical standards must be injected into the political system of our country.”