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April 11, 2016 · 16:55

Franklin Graham (from Huff Post)

imageFranklin Graham Thinks Putin’s Stance On Gay Rights Is Better Than Obama’s
Kevin EckstromReligion News Service03/14/14 03:45 PM ET
(RNS)

Evangelist Franklin Graham is praising Russian President Vladimir Putin for his aggressive crackdown on homosexuality, saying his record on protecting children from gay “propaganda” is better than President Obama’s “shameful” embrace of gay rights.

Graham, who now heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association started by his famous father, praises Putin in the March issue of the group’s Decision magazine for signing a bill that imposes fines for adults who promote “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”

The Russian law came under heavy criticism from gay rights activists, and from Obama, ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In response, Obama included openly gay athletes as part of the official U.S. delegation to Sochi.

“In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues,” Graham writes. “Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”

“Our president and his attorney general have turned their backs on God and His standards, and many in the Congress are following the administration’s lead. This is shameful.”

With the caveat that “I am not endorsing President Putin,” Graham nonetheless praised Russia’s get-tough approach toward gay rights.

“Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue — protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda — Russia’s standard is higher than our own?”

Graham also implicitly seems to side with Putin’s ally, embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, in the ongoing civil war that has claimed more than 140,000 lives. Syria’s small Christian population has largely sided with the Assad regime throughout the three-year conflict.

“Syria, for all its problems, at least has a constitution that guarantees equal protection of citizens,” Graham writes. “Around the world, we have seen that this is essential where Christians are a minority and are not protected. … Christians in Syria know that if the radicals overthrow Assad, there will be widespread persecution and wholesale slaughter of Christians.”

Graham’s father was a virulent anti-Communist in his early years; in 1949 he called communism “a religion that is inspired, directed, and motivated by the Devil himself who has declared war against Almighty God.” But as he took his message around the world, he softened his rhetoric on a host of issues, including politics and hot-button fronts in the culture wars.

“If I had it to do over again, I would avoid any semblance of involvement in partisan politics,” the elder Graham, now 95, wrote in his 1997 autobiography, “Just As I Am.”

For years, Billy Graham sought to take his gospel behind the Iron Curtain, ultimately preaching to huge crowds in Moscow in 1982. At the time, Putin was a young agent in the KGB. “In fact, he was in charge of monitoring foreigners in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) when my father preached there in 1984,” the younger Graham wrote. “If he was eavesdropping on our meeting, which I hope he was, he heard the Gospel!”

Since Franklin Graham took over in 2001, he has steered the Graham franchise in a more political direction by openly questioning President Obama’s faith, endorsing a North Carolina measure that banned gay marriage, calling Islam an “evil and wicked religion” and implicitly endorsing Mitt Romney’s 2012 White House bid.

Michael Hamilton, who has studied the Graham legacy as a historian at Seattle Pacific University, said both father and son have been known to wade into controversy, but Franklin Graham responds differently.

“When the firestorm would hit, Billy Graham would always backtrack or walk back his comments in some way,” Hamilton said. “But when the firestorm hits Franklin, he doesn’t seem to really care.”

Hamilton also questioned why Franklin Graham — who has received wide praise for his relief work through his organization Samaritan’s Purse — didn’t approach Syria through the lens of “its enormous humanitarian crisis.”

A spokeswoman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said Friday (March 14) that Franklin Graham was traveling and unavailable for comment. A statement from BGEA noted his article went to press before the current crisis in Ukraine that’s pitted Putin and Russia against the West.

“Franklin Graham consistently encourages Christians to be informed and take a stand for biblical values and biblical truth,” the statement said. “The Putin cover article was a way to provoke engagement of readers on this important issue and encourage further thought, prayer, and action.”

But Marianne Duddy-Burke, who heads the gay Catholic group DignityUSA and is a member of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable of gay-friendly religious groups, said she’s met with gay and lesbian Russians who have been beaten, stabbed and burned as Russia cracks down.

“It’s really disturbing when a religious leader seems to endorse laws that lead to this kind of behavior,” she said.

(Adelle M. Banks and Cathy Lynn Grossman contributed to this report)

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Really? (From Huffpost)

Illinois Tornadoes Blamed On State’s Gay Marriage Law By Right-Wing Religious Group
Nov 20, 2013
While the full extent of damage caused after severe tornadoes ripped through Illinois last weekend has yet to be assessed, one right-wing religious group has offered one eyebrow-raising explanation.

Robert Ritchie, Executive Director of America Needs Fatima, a project of the right-wing American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, has linked the deadly tornadoes to Illnois’ approval of same-sex marriage earlier this month.

As Right Wing Watch pointed out, Ritchie wrote in a blog post:

The massive tornadoes that hit Illinois after the passing of the same sex “marriage” bill, has stimulated many people to reflection.
In it, some see God’s chastisement; others see it as yet one more merciful warning from Providence; others yet deny both options and give various reasons.

You can read the full blog post here.

Unfortunately, it isn’t the first time the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has been blamed for a natural disaster.

Last year, chaplain John McTernan linked Hurricane Sandy to LGBT people and President Barack Obama’s backing of marriage equality. While most of McTernan’s wrath was directed at Obama, he had some choice words for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, too.

“Obama is 100 percent behind the Muslim Brotherhood which has vowed to destroy Israel and take Jerusalem,” he wrote at the time. “Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda. America is under political judgment and the church does not know it!”

Earlier in 2012, McTernan pointed to the fact that Hurricane Issac coincided with Southern Decadence, New Orleans’ “Gay Mardi Gras.”

“New Orleans is still hosting Southern Decadence with open homosexuality manifesting in the streets of the city,” he wrote in a blog. “It could be that God is putting an end to this city and its wickedness. The timing of Hurricane Isaac with Southern Decadence is a sign that God’s patience with America’s sin is coming to an end.”

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Trendy vicars, your time has come at last

Pope Francis Portrait Painting

Pope Francis Portrait Painting (Photo credit: faithmouse)

from The Independent

Ellen E Jones

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Justin Welby and now the Pope supporting gay rights: Welby leads the way – but Pope Francis is taking baby steps in the right direction

 

In case you haven’t read the fashion pull-out in the latest parish newsletter, let me be the first to pass on the good news: Trendy vicars are bang on trend. The energetic young clergyman or woman in a colourful woolly jumper was once a BBC sit-com trope or a bogeyman for conservative churchgoers. Now, apparently, they’re running the show.

True, Justin Welby is yet to deliver a sermon in rap form, but in the months since he was installed as Archbishop, he’s rarely been off the ball. He’s offered opinions on every trending topic from welfare reform to City culture and now he’s taken a stand on payday lenders. This week Pope Francis, leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, took his own baby-steps into the 21st century when he told an informal press conference. “You should not discriminate against or marginalise [gay] people, and the Catechism says this as well.”

To many, Pope Francis’s words will be a maddeningly overdue statement of the obvious. Is it bad to discriminate against gay people? Is the Pope a Catholic? Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was unimpressed. He dismissed the statement as “a change of tone…but not a change in substance.”

It’s to be hoped a change in tone might signal a change in substance, but still, Tatchell’s cynicism is not unfounded. Most religious organisations keep time with an internal clock about four centuries behind GMT. This slow pace of modernisation goes a long way to explaining why 64 per cent of British 18-24 year-olds are not affiliated to any religion. It also suggests why it would be unfair to dismiss the views of church leaders as a merely superficial attempt to seem ‘with it’. Any decent comms manager would consider this too little, too late. And anyway, they didn’t have comms managers in the Middle Ages.

Politicians may consider a Church that comments on the welfare of the poor or City culture an unwelcome interference, but that’s not because the comments themselves are radical. Jesus’s thoughts on rich men, camels and needles are well-known. If they now seem even more relevant than they ever were in 1st century Galilee, that’s hardly Justin Welby’s doing.

The trendy vicar might fancy himself down with the kids, but his strength isn’t radicalism; it’s a determination to connect the Church, and all its members, with the outside world. Other vicars nibble victoria sponge during parish tea; trendy vicar gets his teeth stuck in to the issues of the day.

Why should Britain’s non-church goers care what religious leaders say on social and political matters? Because when no mainstream political party is willing to stick up for the poor and disenfranchised, here are a few major organisations that can step into the breach. So, godly and godless, let’s put aside our differences and hold hands for a verse or two of Kumbaya. Unlike the third Sunday after Pentecost, the trendy vicar’s ascendance is a church event we all have cause to celebrate

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