ROLAND S. MARTIN: Rev. Billy Graham And His Narrow Biblical Principles

By Roland S. Martin

To all of my fellow evangelicals on the religious right, please, stop your fake proselytizing and trumpeting of biblical values if all you’re going to do is run roughshod over your biblical convictions in order for your partisan views to take center stage.

When Mitt Romney was running for the GOP presidential nomination, a number of individuals on the religious right were highly critical of his faith, with some even calling Mormonism a cult. The Southern Baptist Convention has long taught that Mormonism is a cult. Yet, when Romney secured the GOP nomination, these same Bible-believing leaders were quick to set that aside to back Romney.

The Rev. Billy Graham and his Billy Graham Evangelistic Association have decided to scrub from his website any mention of Mormonism as a cult. This was done in the wake of a meeting with Romney and the release of a newspaper ad that endorses the GOP nominee.

With the release of a newspaper ad set to run across the country, it is clear that Graham, long been called by others as “America’s pastor,” has forgotten portions of the Bible.

The copy of the ad says: “The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren and this great nation is critical. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.”

So Graham is saying vote for someone who bases their decisions on “biblical principles,” “support the nation of Israel,” “protect the sanctity of life” and “support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”

That’s it. Nothing else. That’s essentially what he is characterizing as “biblical principles.”

How pathetic.

Oh, I’ll gladly take heat for criticizing a revered figure like Billy Graham. This is an obviously gross distortion of the Word of God to fit his political point of view. It’s shameful when those on the left do it and just as bad when the religious right does it.

The teachings of Jesus Christ are filled with numerous examples of the Son of God helping the needy, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and wounded, and taking to task the haves for ignoring the have-nots.

The Bible talks about Jesus spending his time with social outcasts, not basking in the glow of the 1 percent.

Why is it that Graham, and so many others on the religious right, wants to isolate the Bible to only abortion and gay marriage? Does the rest of it matter? Are we to tell Bible believers that one or two issues matters more than any other?

So, Rev. Graham, why no mention of the poor, the sick or the needy in your newspaper ad?

Oh, I know the history of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association with helping those in need, as well as that of his son, Franklin Graham, through Samaritan’s Purse. But isn’t it worth mentioning and advocating these issues to our presidential candidates?

I wonder what the Catholic bishops and nuns feel about Graham not thinking Bible believers should cast their ballots on the issue of healthcare. Should Bible believers not be concerned with the massive cuts to programs to help the poor advocated by Rep. Paul Ryan? Should Bible believers know about the fatherhood initiative launched by President Obama to shore up families and to confront the crisis of fatherless homes? Is that not something Jesus would be proud of? Should Bible believers be concerned about the candidates’ stance on guns and gun violence? Is that not a biblical issue, Rev. Graham? Should Bible believers be concerned about who prefers to end wars across the globe? Rev. Graham, should Bible believers vote on who is best able to end the prison industrial complex that is destroying this country fiscally? Should Bible believers know who is more concerned about the rich getting richer and everyone else having to help pay for their yachts and planes?

Seriously, Rev. Graham, are these not moral issues that should be considered by Bible believers?

Over the last 30 years, the religious right has perverted the Bible to fit their narrow view of what Christians should pay attention to. Abortion and homosexuality. That’s it. Nothing else matters.

Well my Bible is bigger than that. My faith is bigger than that. And my Jesus Christ cares about more than abortion and homosexuality. Please, make your case about those two issues, that’s fine. But don’t talk to me, Rev. Graham, Franklin Graham or any other right wing evangelical about the sanctity of life when you were silent about Trayvon Martin being gunned down or police brutality taking the lives of innocent Americans.

Franklin Graham loves to talk about Christians being persecuted in the Middle East, and I applaud him for that. But does not he care to mention Christians under attack in inner city America thanks to a proliferation of guns and drugs? Care to challenge Bible believers to vote based on that? Or will the National Rifle Association get mad?

Please, don’t you dare tell me, an evangelical, Christian author married to an ordained minister, that biblical principles only cover four issues. I prefer to have an expansive view of Jesus, rather than a narrow one.

I refuse to think the biblical and social justice issues touted by the Revs. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian and countless other pastors during Civil Rights Movement, are not worth the consideration of today’s Bible believers.

Support who you want, Rev. Graham, but don’t dare limit the scope of biblical values to what I can count with on one hand.

Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN analyst and author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin.” Please visit his website at To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


  • Erica J

    Well written! After all, the Bible says “Let us hear the conclusion of the WHOLE matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Let’s not just take bit’s and pieces Rev Graham! Thank you Roland!

  • Tera

    I feel to need to take an offering! Amen Roland!

  • Pastor Nelson

    Roland I am one of the pastors that they tried to destroy with that article black pastors telling their members not to vote. I mention more about why I couldn’t justify voting for a person like Romney. Being a small republican dominated community outside Houston, it is not easy taking the stance I did. However I have a conscience and I see what these guys are doing and by the way I am affiliated with the SBC. I was at a meeting when leaders prayed that POTUS be providentially be remove from office and that offended me. I have more to say but I leave it at that. And I just came from casting my vote for Barack Hussien Obama.

  • Ndy Ukwe

    Roland, I’ve been waiting for a commentator to take on Rev. Graham regarding his recent stance about the mormon church. It just didnt make sense that he will change his views about the church just because of political reasons. That really annoyed me. Your article summarizes all the frustrations I had with his actions and I am so glad you took him head on. This is why I always crave your commentaries. It’s so sad CNN has made a decision to remove you from covering debate nights and primetime political events at the network! I’m thinking that may be tactical…Van Jones is in no way a match for you for political analysis!

  • L. Ross

    Good word, Roland!!! I would like to hear what other minster’s of the gospel have to say on this matter.

  • Martin: “The teachings of Jesus Christ are filled with examples of him helping the needy,..”

    Translated, the gospel according to Martin is, “The teachings of Jesus Christ are filled with examples of him constantly helping the needy – regardless of whether they were committed to earning benefits – and by providing for them at the expense of others, regardless of whether they voluntarily offered, while taking the “haves” to task for requiring that “if any refuse to work, neither should they eat.” (2Thes. 3:10)

    In reality, unlike those who get elected by spending the money of others, and attack those who pay for the bulk of it (who are penalized), the Lord only distributed the money of those who willingly gave to Him and His work, (Lk. 8:3; Jn. 13:29) while He selflessly gave of Himself day and night, and provided salvation on His expense and credit, by His sinless shed blood and righteousness. (Rm. 3:25ff

    In addition, the examples of Him showing mercy to various needy souls were by personally doing so, and were to those who were truly needy, and He required a response of repentance if they were suffering due to their own sins. (Jn. 5:14)

    For rather than fostering a welfare mentality, He even refused to feed people a second time when they only wanted a free lunch, not spiritual truth (Jn. 6:24-27) which results in obedience, while He fed another crowd only after they followed and heard Him for 3 days. (Mt. 15:32)

    By this and more He thus clearly taught that while mercy is to be shown, it was not that of a welfare state and its victim-entitlement mentality, but that benefits are earned, and charity is by personal giving, with its accountability that works betterment unto being a producer who helps the whole. Therefore even salvation, while provided for on God/Christ’s expense and obtained thru faith, yet it requires a repentant faith that effects obedience, and which is rewarded. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. ” (Revelation 21:7)

  • Barbara

    Amen, Mr. Martin. Well said. I had these exact same thoughts but you said it so well. I would prefer for those who say vote your values to just say vote for a Republican and not try to hide behind scripture. I too am a believer who not only loves God but am striving to daily love my neighbor as I love myself.

  • K.C.

    Alright Brother! Make it plain! Blessings