The hypocrisy of evangelicals in the age of Trump is not a hard thing to identify, considering that Trump’s most vocal evangelical supporters have to literally do an about-face of their convictions in order to justify their support for him. One of the most blatant of these about-facers is evangelist Franklin Graham, whose past condemnations of Bill Clinton and his lies about his affair with Monica Lewinsky are nowhere to be found when it comes to President’s Trump’s sexual addictions.
In an interview with the Associated Press published last Tuesday, Graham said that Trump’s alleged exploits with porn star Stormy Daniels and his other sexual misdeeds are “nobody’s business.”
“I don’t have concern, in a sense, because these things happened many years ago,” Graham said, “And there’s such bigger problems in front of us as a nation that we need to be dealing with than other things in his life a long time ago. I think some of these things — that’s for him and his wife to deal with.”
Graham then said that he now thinks that Republicans going after former president Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal “should never have happened.”
“And I think this thing with Stormy Daniels and so forth is nobody’s business,” he continued. “And we’ve got other business at hand that we need to deal with.”
Even if Graham’s *evolution* on matters of adultery is genuine, it still doesn’t absolve him from the fact that he doesn’t apply the “it’s nobody’s business” take to gay couples who want to get married. But that aside, an op-ed Graham wrote for the Wall Street Journal back in 1998 makes his newfound leniency for Trump all the more suspect.
The op-ed was titled, “Clinton’s Sins Aren’t Private”:
Last week Mr. Clinton told 70 million Americans that his adulterous actions with Ms. Lewinsky were a “private” matter “between me, the two people I love the most–my wife and our daughter–and our God.”
But the God of the Bible says that what one does in private does matter. Mr. Clinton’s months-long extramarital sexual behavior in the Oval Office now concerns him and the rest of the world, not just his immediate family. If he will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?
Private conduct does have public consequences. Some of Mr. Clinton’s defenders present King David of the Bible, one of history’s great leaders, as an example as they call on us to forgive and forget the president’s moral failings. Since God pardoned David’s adulterous act with Bathsheba, the reasoning goes, we should similarly forgive Mr. Clinton.
But forgiveness is not the end of David’s story. Huge consequences followed immediately. The prophet Nathan confronted David with the news that while his life would be spared, the life of his child would be extinguished after just seven days on earth. Bathsheba’s husband and others were killed in an attempt to cover up the illicit affair. David, who confessed his sin when confronted by Nathan (perhaps God’s special prosecutor), also witnessed a bloody coup attempt by his own son, Absalom. He was never the same king.
If Graham’s past convictions regarding Clinton’s sexual misdeeds are in his view no longer relevant to Trump, then we can also conclude that his morals change depending on who is president.
In light of Graham’s AP interview, his 1998 op-ed was pointed out by none other than conservative commentator Erick Erickson, who is a staunch evangelical and vocal critic of Trump.
“Going to seminary has shown me that my faith and politics do not always align and, when that is the case, my politics need to conform to my faith,” Erickson wrote in a blog post from this Monday. “Sadly, in this day and age, too many people are conforming their faith to their politics.”
Erickson not only slammed Graham for his blatant hypocrisy; he also preemptively slammed commenters on his blog who he knew would find some way to justify Graham’s turnaround.
“Franklin Graham, like many of those commenting here, has shallowed out his faith to suit his politics in the present age,” Erickson wrote.
Graham’s interview with the Associated Press can be found in the link below:
Featured image via screen grab/YouTube