Friday, January 16, 2015

Baptist Editor Blasts Franklin Graham

Baptists Today is a liberal magazine published in Macon, Georgia. Its editor is John D. Pierce, a Baptist minister, who in a recent blog wrote this: “Recently, Nikolai Novikov has been repeatedly fined, jailed, and restricted in his freedom to travel, according to Forum18. His crime: Holding worship services in West Kazakhstan without government permission. Like Novikov, Maksim Volikov is also a Baptist Christian in Kazakhstan. He was fined the equivalent of one’s month’s average salary according to the news service.

These examples — and worse — of real religious discrimination and persecution occurring around the world (to people of various faiths) need to be contrasted with the silly claims that flow from many American Christian leaders who love to play victim. Franklin Graham is such an example with his continual thoughtless commentaries — which, thankfully, he is free to express in this great country.

Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham and president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse, located in Boone, NC, perhaps the nation's largest worldwide charity, is an ardent participant in the Southern Baptist Convention, accused by Baptist liberals of being “fundamentalist” and therefore ensconced in theological ignorance. Baptists Today is aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a relatively small denomination (actually a consortium of churches not listed in the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches as a denomination) that is an outgrowth of the “split” in the Southern Baptist Convention occasioned about 1979 through 1991 over questions of theology, primarily the ordination of women.

The SBC, with some 16 million members, is the largest non-Roman Catholic denomination in the U.S. At least half of its members are female and apparently satisfied with the SBC position, but liberals view it as not politically correct, therefore heretical. Theologically, the jury is out—disagreement on all sides, including those with Ph.d.s—but liberals can't tolerate disagreement when it clashes with PC, the new norm doctrinally. The fact that Islam is the driving force currently behind genocide in especially the Middle East and Africa doesn't signify to the PC-crowd as enough to make one wonder about mounting the prayer rug and facing toward Mecca, not to mention the carnage of 9/11.

Pierce's angst was occasioned by his belief that Duke University recently reversed a decision to allow its chapel “bell tower” to be used to call Muslims to prayer on Fridays because Franklin Graham spoke out against it. However, according to the Charlotte Observer of 16 January, Michael Schoenfeld, a Duke vice president, said the university had received hundreds of calls and emails, many of which were quite vitriolic. Translated, some big contributors to Duke financially, as well probably as many others, viewed that decision with enough jaundice to turn off the dollar-faucet. That gets the attention of any college administrator.

Graham did have something to say in a post: “I think it's wrong [muezzin in the bell tower]...I think many people have a problem with it.” Graham mentioned the raping, butchering, beheading of Christians and Jews and anyone not submitting to Sharia Islamic law. While liberal Christian-tourists take vacations worshiping God in the Holy Land—with side-trips to maybe Greece and Italy—Graham shows up in places like northern Iraq and ebola-country in Africa or anywhere there's been an earthquake, tsunami, tornado or displaced refugees.

Unlike most if not all large charities, Samaritan's Purse places its entire financial status on the Internet for everyone to see. According to its federal form 990 for 2013, Graham oversaw a budget of $460 million with 87% of it going directly to ministry (doctors, hospitals, churches, schools, drilling pure wells, housing, disaster relief, etc.), only 8% for fund-raising, and 5% for administration. Perhaps the next largest charitable agency is the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, which had a 2014 budget amounting to $299 million that supported 4,793 foreign missionaries.

Liberal Christians in many denominations and churches expend much hot air talking the walk but Graham and the IMB walk the walk, making actions much louder than words. They also take strong stands on other questions such as the absurdity of men marrying men and engaging in deviant behavior, another PC no-no, but while the liberal churches are dying on the vine, these conservatives, if not exactly flourishing as the faith is demeaned from the White House through the media to the man on the street, are at least doing good and holding their own.

As for Pierce and his wholly gratuitous slandering of Graham, he's not alone in that activity. Actually, Graham should be flattered.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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