You Can't Spell Billy with Two Ks

Our Pennsylvania correspondent sent an email with the poster (the image used here) attached. The text, which appears with a close-up of Billy Graham, old but still looking good, runs as follows:

The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren, and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.

Graham, who has always been vulnerable for consorting with Republican presidents and presidential candidates, threatens to go out of this mortal life with another questionable. This advertisement comes in various formats and can be downloaded and printed for bulletin inserts, bulletin boards, and is even filling up billboards. It also follows on the heels of news that Graham met with Mitt Romney and that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has removed Mormonism from its list of cults, which would appear to make safe the way of Graham’s endorsement.

Since Graham has a complicated (at best) relationship with presidents and has exhibited (in all about my estimation) a remarkable naivete about U.S. politics, I am not inclined to conclude, as some have, that Graham may be ruining his legacy. As a preacher of fairly crass decisionism, Graham has not impressed this “vinegary Old School Presbyterian” (how one colleague puts it) as having made the greatest contribution to Protestantism. I have admired his ability to avoid the kind of personal failings that seem to go with the baggage of itinerancy. It is also hard not to be impressed by the longevity and strength of his organization. At the same time, since Graham has a history of sidling up to political candidates — without apparently considering whether he is actually the one being used — I am not going to throw a flag or raise a card. Billy is what he is.

But the language used in this poster does deserve some comment. First, support for the nation of Israel may be a responsible foreign policy for U.S. presidents, but it hardly follows from the teaching of Scripture since the church, which transcends national borders, is the new Israel. But old habits of dispensational premillennialism die hard. Second, biblical teaching on marriage is hardly a uniform call to the God vote since Protestants and Roman Catholics have pretty different understandings of the relations between man and wife, at least whether marriage is a sacrament, not to mention the kind of instruments spouses may use to enhance or restrict the fruit of their womb. And that leads to the third problem in Graham’s message — how would he or his supporters feel if Muslims sponsored billboards that called upon Americans to vote for candidates who upheld marriage as defined by Sharia Law?

Rather than clarifying dilemmas confronting voters, the introduction of religion only makes matters more confusing. That’s not to say that deciding on a candidate in this election should be all that hard. Looking at the political philosophies of both parties, instead of their religious affirmations, should provide a clear choice. Then again, those FroPo Cons have a habit of making even a simple political decision difficult.

On the bright side, at least one of the figures identified in my book is making a splash this electoral season. Thanks for nothing Sarah.

Evangelicals Aren't Christian

Publicity for From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin continues and it has made me aware of the variety of radio shows in the United States once you get beyond Rush, Sean, and Glenn. I am also much more attentive than I was to the need for talk show hosts to keep a copy of the author’s book handy. Today I was on a show — name withheld to protect the guilty — where the host several times announced that the title of my book was Why Evangelicals Aren’t Conservative. But that was not as bad as the one time when he actually segued into a commercial break by referring to the book as Why Evangelicals Aren’t Christian. As provocative as I try to be, that one never dawned on me, not even now that I no longer have to worry about embarrassing my mother.

For this reason, I returned to steady spirits (as opposed to distilled ones) when I found a review of FBG2SP in yesterday’s Washington Times by William Murchison. It was even positive as the following excerpt attests:

[Hart]e does so much more, which is really the point here. He probes deep below the surface of evangelicalism to identify, with intelligence and grace, elements that conservatives might have examined with more detail back when Mr. Falwell and others came to shopping around for allies to fight the “secular humanism” they viewed with alarm. Conservatives, for one thing, might have thought more about how voters in general would view the evangelical quest, sublimated at first as Republican politics, for increasing Christianity’s political profile.

That would have started arguments about whether America was or wasn’t a Christian nation, as the evangelicals of the day sometimes alleged. Besides, their votes were wanted. Yet when Barry Goldwater, the grandest political conservative of them all back in his day, offered to kick Jerry Falwell in the place where he sat down, conservatives should have figured out that there might be some problems coming down the road. They didn’t, and now the piper demands his pay.

Janet Mefferd Is My (all about me) Hero

I participated in an interview this week with Janet Mefferd who has a radio show out of Dallas on the Salem Radio Network. I was not sure what to expect because in the places I have lived her syndicated show has not been available. The SRN affiliates near me have followed the Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher (nee Laura Ingraham), Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt line-up and in that company I don’t suppose a book about the tensions, if not antagonisms, between evangelicals and conservatives would go over very well. My sense is that they would prefer to continue the biased-liberal-media mantra that has given evangelicals a pass from conservative pundits who don’t seem to be troubled by what “Christian America” means even for conservative Roman Catholics and Jewish Americans.

But to my surprise, Janet was unbelievably positive about From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin, even to the point of insisting that evangelicals need a megadose of Augustine’s two cities for their considerations about public life. For anyone interested in the interview they may go here.

I also conducted a couple of other pleasant interviews recently, one with Scott Oakland at, and one with Matt Lewis at

And to fill out this shameless post of self-promotion (my publicist makes me be all about me), Oldlifers may want to check out the interviews available through Office Hours from Westminster California. Unfortunately for me, the interviews at Office Hours for Season Three do not include me. That’s why I’ll be listening to Seasons One and Two.