Love Conquers Ignorance

Oh, Mr. Graham,

We have not come far from the attitude of the eight religious leaders who wrote to Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. while he was incarcerated in a Birmingham, Alabama jail in 1963.

As a Christian leader, I am ashamed for you. You have a large forum into which you speak and write. You submitted your take publicly on your Facebook page on why you perceive so many black men have died recently at the hands of police officers: “Parents, teach your children to respect and obey those in authority,” and “It’s as simple as that,” and, “Mr. President, this is a message our nation needs to hear, and they need to hear it from you.” You received thousands of “likes” for these comments. You promoted anger and hate.

At the very least, you promoted ignorance. At the very least, you did not promote love.

I did not read any desire to perceive or understand the fear and profiling and aggressive, biased treatment on one side, and the fear and anger and gut-wrenching distrust on the other side.

“But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the [situation]. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.” Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail

This is not about African Americans failing to parent or young black men failing to submit, or a black president failing to discipline “his people.” This is about a system that has been broken for decades.

You’ve come a long way from your father, who preached a true gospel of love; who had the love and respect of many Presidents, and many Christians of all ethnicities, whether they voted Republican, Democrat.

Your rant on Facebook was nothing more than an angry white male slandering a group of non-white people. And that, Mr. Graham, is not what a Christian does. We are not to speak and act as the world does.

We are to be impartial. We are to love our neighbor. We are to put our agenda and our will aside in order to promote God’s will. The day you posted your rant, you stepped away from God. I invite to step back toward Him again. Offer a public apology.

If you want to see Franklin Graham’s rant, go to: http://on.fb.me/1F9wG0u

If you want to read Sojourner’s Christian response to Franklin Graham, to go:

http://sojo.net/blogs/2015/03/19/open-letter-franklin-graham

“Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world?” Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail

32 comments

  1. Oh, Susan!

    “At the very least you did not promote love.”

    I applaud you for calling it what it is. You are indeed correct. The system has been broken and is breaking still…
    I have two teenage boys. They are “good kids.” I look for the best in everyone. I’ve taught them to do so as well. I’ve lived long enough to know that “crazy comes in all colors.” Yet, I pray that God protects them from those who would prey on them or abuse their authority.

    Social media can be a very nasty place, fueling hate and allowing cowards to hide behind hurtful remarks. It can be used to unite or divide.

    I appreciate it you tackling this head on. Some people will never see or acknowledge the points you’ve made here. Others prefer to lash out instead of look inward. I’m glad to see you and Heather can disagree amicably. That alone is a rarity these days. Peace to you! And as we say down here, ” now that’s some good preaching!”

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    1. Thank you, Lilka. I think those who cannot walk in another’s shoes cannot see through their eyes. I understand they want to see the positive, see the good always, and I commend that. But we must also see truth. This was difficult for me, as I am not a “calling out” type of person. I only pray those enamored of Pastor Franklin are more enamored of Jesus’ love, and can separate the two.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Susan, I clicked on the link and read Franklin Graham’s FB post. I noticed that he addressed it to everyone (not just one group of people). I can see why you might be concerned with how this post could be construed. But I didn’t see anything particularly offensive in it except that he was taking a risk by stepping into a very hot topic (and perhaps butting in where he may not belong).

    Even though I follow Franklin Graham on FB, I will not click like on this post because I’m afraid of being called a racist and this whole issue in not really any of my business. I also avoid commenting on or liking most posts on topics about other groups for fear of being called a whatever-phobic.

    I’m going to focus on Jesus. I’d rather be hated for loving Jesus than for agreeing with an imperfect person. I’d say that you and Heather have your hearts in the right place (in the hands of God). And I admire how the two of you were able to agree to disagree with gentleness and respect. I think you’re both holding onto Truth.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

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    1. Thank you, Wendy, for your perspective on this. I appreciate it, and your additional comment on the discussion between Heather and I.
      The two of us have had a longtime heart connection. It takes love and respect to understand the compassion underneath the words. I think we both do that because we see the love of Christ in each other.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Planting Potatoes · ·

    While it is a different world that Franklin is preaching in compared to the one his father preached in – I think the same message that Martin Luther King, Jr. preached is none the less still very relevant and should not be altered just because the world has changed….seems that would be a trap satan would want to lead us into because he can change the world – but he will never change God….by the way, I think MLK did submit – but not to the world – to God.

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    1. Yes, I agree with you. I think sometimes we are tempted to use politics or current events as an excuse to change the message. The message is still love and unity. That never changes. Great point; thank you so much for chiming in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Planting Potatoes · ·

        I like how MLK wouldn’t even let blacks be violent even after his own house was bombed…even though his own family was almost killed – he would not change the message…..

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      2. He was definitely a man of integrity, a man with a mission.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. That is incredible. He must have an inkling of Franklin’s personality, of course!

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  5. I went over to see that post. It made me cry. Sometimes I think that once a person becomes a public leader, they lose their sense of propriety. Facebook is a hotbed of crazy like that with people threatening people to join in the band of those who prefer to feel than to think. It can happen to anyone in authority, but the religious ones seem to be the ones filled with the most vitriol. Thank you for this post.

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    1. Thank you for understanding and seeing through my eyes, Susan. I felt the same way when I read it. So very sad he didn’t stop long enough to think about the consequences of his words. A harsh reminder we must walk in another’s shoes instead of judging their gait.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Susan,
    We may have something that we disagree on. 🙂 I’m okay with that though out of my Christian love.

    I actually saw and liked that post and don’t feel ANY hatred or ignorance whatsoever. I think you know me well enough from my “Open Letter to Christians” about hateful language to my posts about how I’ve been treated as a racist simply because I asked a question about a remark from a black woman I had in my home for holiday dinner… And I’m certainly not racist.

    I hope you take into account the true loving heart of those of us who take this statement as I believe he meant it … That God does in fact teach the importance of authority and respect. It does not ALL lie in parental teaching of course, but that is very important. And the truth is that parents of all colors fail in parenting today. Many children “just grow up”.

    Unfortunately, this is true of many Christians today. Even taking them to church and hoping the best out of Subday school classes is not enough.

    I did not read hate at all in his post; just a call to tecognize the other aspect of this problem. Not all police are racist; and certainly if those who fought the police did not they might take a moment to figure that out.

    Our president has basically one-sided this as he does with most topics, although I did hear say something similar about not acting this way to police on a nighttime talk show. You might be surprised to have heard that. And he didn’t say it with hatred either of course.

    I hear your heart in this and agree that there are many facets. I just don’t think labeling it hate is appropriate.

    Franklin has not steered from his father in Biblical interpretation. Instead it is a different world now. His father preached primarily in a time when prayer was not outlawed in schools and God was not removed hastily and arrogantly from the public square. It’s just a different time.

    Bless you dear Sister,
    Heather

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heather, I understand your point of view. However, when pastors enter into politics, they must be wary of being divisive. Franklin specifically was responding to an issue of black American deaths by the hands of police, I believe he spoke with a narrow lens and in the wrong public forum. I did not say he wrote with hate, but in writing his opinion in this way, he promoted anger, hate and division, as evidenced by the responses on his FB page. I do believe he wrote his paragraph with anger and without the thoughtfulness that a pastor in his position should have given this subject.

      Thanks for adding your point of view to this important topic.

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      1. Thank you for your clarification, Susan. I apologize for misunderstanding your comment:
        ” Your rant on Facebook was nothing more than an angry white male slandering a group of non-white people…”

        I thought you were referencing the “anger” as the same “hate” you think he is promoting.
        I still do not see it, or feel it in my heart and soul, as anger or hatred.

        I also don’t see it as any other way than another view of what is needed to be done to help the issue.

        But I respect that you took away a bad feeling.

        And FB and websites are all breeding grounds for hateful remarks to posts that were not meant to be hurtful. We can’t hold that against the writer. Even I have had truly two hate filled remarks left on my FB page.

        I just don’t think he is instigating something. And peoole should have better sense of responsibility than to speak/write hate filled remarks.

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      2. Also, I encourage you go listen to Franklin talk about this and other political issues. He never speaks with anger. I’ve never heard that even in his tone.

        Even Jesus divided people so politically speaking – as Christians must enter into politicians to keep their rights to live a Biblically based life – we will divide some group since there are so many dissenters.

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      3. Heather, I think we have to agree to disagree here. Franklin made a choice to post this on FB, which, as you know, is a forum for quick and curt posts and responses. I don’t think he promoted discussion, and I don’t believe he wanted to elicit discussion. He stated an opinion about black parenting – the same opinion which has been held by paternalistic white males for decades. I think he was quick to judge and quick to post, and as a Christian pastor, I think that did not befit him.

        I have heard him speak before, and through his speaking have ascertained the difference between he and his father. As for Christians entering politics: we all need to decide that on our own. However, legalism (prayer in schools) doesn’t lead to the transformation of hearts and lives. Following Jesus does.

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      4. Yes we can agree to disagree. Especially on your giving prayer in schools the label of legalism. I don’t agree with that. I think that kids should be allowed to pray in school. And if that means a Muslim wants to pray then they should be able to pray too. I do not agree that people should be forced to pray in school. I just don’t see how removing God completely and attacking Christians only in the school system is a thing that God would agree with.

        I think you misunderstood me in that labeling, but maybe instead you just thought I was lumped in with the other people who think it should be forced. I assure you that is not what I’m saying. The Pilgrims who founded this country clearly saw the benefit in having God in our schools. Raise a child up in knowing the Lord is clearly something He instructs us to do. Clearly they thought it was important that it started in the home and continued in the school in the public square.

        I do also hear a difference in Franklin’s preaching style from his father’s, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. I have never heard him speak with the anger you defined this as. It just goes to show that even Christians can hear something different. It is a good thing none of this is dependent upon our knowing God deeper and certainly isn’t a factor in our salvation.

        But you certainly bring up a good point about the forum. FB can be a good one if used effectively. I block hateful commenters. But remember all things can’t be written in one post. Even our wordpress auto posts to FB only show a small snippet of our words which can be dangerous.

        Thank you for the conversation. I do believe it needs to be had otherwise these things will never get better. There are more than two sides that is for certain.
        Blessings dear Sister. 🙂

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      5. Amen to all that, Heather. And thank you for engaging in conversation in a loving, accepting and meaningful way. Definitely more than two sides to all these issues. So glad we’re both on the side of Christ. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      6. And to Susan. Because I always see your loving heart that encourages me and others to try to be more loving. It is so important to me. I do love your heart! ❤️

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      7. Thanks, Heather. I appreciate that. I know your heart and intention, too.

        I must always speak out when I see or hear injustice. This one spoke to the core of me; it brought back too many memories of a divided nation. We need to promote healing, especially as Christians. Thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Maybe to claryfy my heart more for you as a friend… Your title instantly states that his statement and those who agree as I explained are ignorant. That is not true me certainly, and is a bit hurtful. I take these things very seriously. And I do everything out of love. I hope you understand why it is hurtful. But I do understand your point and don’t negate that you want a better discourse. I would totally agree with you there. There are probably always better ways to say things.

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      9. The title was intended to wake up those who would automatically assign judgment and blame to an entire group of people. That is why I stated we have not come far from 1963. It is not laws, but hearts that must change. We still have a long way to go, Heather.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Agreed. I think it hurt because you are one of the few writers I trust with my heart. 🙂 Normally titles don’t evoke much in me.

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  7. Oh dear, Susan. So many “Christian” preachers think and speak and write the way Franklin Graham does. We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go. This is one reason I don’t use FB anymore — these types of rants are all too easy to post and share there. You have given Graham a loving analysis of his bias. I hope he and the people who ‘liked’ his statement will somehow read it and have hearts and minds changed. It amazes me that they study Jesus, and so misunderstand him.

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    1. Sadly, Beth, I only found out about this yesterday. I don’t use FB anymore either for exactly this same reason. I think his post was divisive; Jesus preached unity over and over. I truly was disappointed, particularly knowing how his father embraced everyone through love, and sought ways to unify people through Christ.
      Thanks for your comment here, and understanding what and how I tried to say this.

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      1. I was going to ask you if you see the difference between Franklin and Billy Graham. I am amazed that the son could be so callous. His dad is still alive, isn’t he? I wonder if he has counseled Franklin or whether he just doesn’t know this about him.

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      2. Billy Graham is alive at 96. He still writes and preaches a message of hope – so different than his son. His grandson Will said back in December he was growing weak.
        I think the primary difference between Willy and Franklin is that Billy Graham has remained a humble servant of the Lord. I think his son has a long way to go to reach servanthood.

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      3. Susan, don’t you think that is a bit of a stretch sunce he is primarily responsible for Samaritan’s Purse? I think we should not discount his great amount of servtitude to the Lord through that program alone, let alone his servant heart to preach the Gospel of Christ.

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      4. Bob Pierce, who founded World Vision in 1950, actually founded Samaritan’s Purse in 1970 after he left World Vision. Franklin Graham became president of the organization in ’79 after Pierce’s death from leukemia.

        While Samaritan’s Purse is a worthwhile organization and receives the highest rating from Charity Navigator, I would question why Graham continues to receive a salary of over $450,000, while simultaneously receiving a fulltime salary from Billy Graham Evangelical Ministries.

        Like I said, Heather, we have to agree to disagree.

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      5. Interestingly, just the day before Franklin’s FB post, Billy Graham’s FB post said, “You have a tongue and a voice. These instruments of speech can be used destructively or employed constructively.” Coincidence?

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