Today’s media attention is again riveted on the bright, shiny object of the past few days—the James Comey interview and the tornadic reaction to it from Trump and friends.
However, it was another interview this weekend which caught my attention, the few minutes that Fox and Friends spent with the Rev. Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son and evangelical extraordinaire.
Of course, the Fox hosts did not seem interested in anything particularly religious, except for Graham’s views on the president.
Graham rose to the occasion in an almost Hannity-like fashion with the observation, “this president understands the power of prayer.”
He also stated, “I appreciate that we have a president who understands prayer and solicits prayer.”
His words had barely left his mouth when Twitter reactions began popping up.
Hollywood Director Judd Apatow tweeted, “I don’t care what your politics are — @FranklinGraham is either a fool or works for the devil. There is no way he believes Trump believes in God and the power of prayer. Nobody on Earth truly believes that.”
Christian voices also weighed in.
Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie, Jr., a United Church of Christ pastor wrote, “Seems to me that @FranklinGraham sold his soul to @realDonaldTrump.”
Thomas S. Kidd, who teaches history at Baylor University, added, “Because on Fox ‘evangelical’ Christianity means nominal Christianity employed for political ends.”**
Meanwhile, about the time Graham was opining on Trump’s religiosity, the Big Man Himself was undercutting that argument by throwing a Tweetstorm about Comey with the usual type of character assassination which we hope would stop.
However, at least two other comments Graham made gives never-Trump Christians food for thought.
First, he observed that we need to pray for Trump.
Second, he said, “Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, the fact is that Donald Trump is the president of the United States. And if he does well, makes good decisions, it benefits all of us as a nation, regardless of our background … We need him to succeed at home, and we need him to succeed abroad. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about succeeding for all Americans.”
I served at a conservative United Methodist church in rural Texas during Obama’s presidency.
While my prayers for Obama did not stir great controversy in the church, at least two people expressed their displeasure.
Likely, at some progressive Christians would say the same about prayers for Trump.
Christians who place party and politics over God to be at work in a person’s private or professional life need to reassess that position.
The thought of “Donald Trump—Man of Prayer” strikes me as ludicrous given his apparently unrepentant lifestyle.
However, we all can pray for him to become one.
** My favorite comment was from former “New York Times” opinion columnist Clyde Haberman who tweeted, “Donald Trump is to piety what Stormy Daniels is to chastity.”