One of the reasons that evangelist Billy Graham achieved the status of a respected and renowned national leader is that he was the clergyman and advisor of presidents of both major political parties and did not personally involve himself in election campaigns nor make endorsements ... until now.
At the age of 93, ill and enfeebled, Reverend Graham, most certainly at the direction of his son, Franklin, has taken out full-page advertisements in prominent newspapers to endorse "biblical principles," "sanctity of life" (anti-abortion), "marriage between one man and one woman," and support for Israel, i.e., a de facto expression of support for Mitt Romney. Just in time for the Romney endorsement, the Graham Foundation has rescinded its offensive tenet that the Mormon faith of Mr. Romney is a cult.
I belong to a religious institution in which most of the members favor what I do not: the "social justice" that is delivered through big, expensive government that is espoused by the Democrats, yet to my knowledge, there has never been a political endorsement from the pulpit in the almost 50 years that I have worshiped there, and I would not like it if there were. In every religious group of any size, there are individuals with differing political views. When a clergyman or woman places their imprimatur on a certain candidate, it serves to exclude and marginalize those that do not follow the leader.
I believe we travel down the proverbial slippery slope when religious leaders begin to publicly choose candidates, and to do so places their tax-exempt status in jeopardy in this country.
For decades, Billy Graham traveled the nation to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, but he was seen as an honest and even-handed broker when he met with presidents as ideologically diverse as Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan. The middle ground which he admirably staked out for years is now eroded as we approach what Reverend Graham acknowledges is likely to be the last presidential election for which he is alive.
It would be unfortunate if this good man's reputation were forever tainted for his actions in a controversial and regrettable advertisement placed in the final stage of his long and laudatory life.