BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Franklin Graham, the son of Reverend Billy Graham and president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has for years hoped to inherit his father's mantle as "America's Pastor." Instead, as the years go by, and his disturbing comments mount up, he's creeping closer and closer to occupying the space left by the death of Fred Phelps, the anti-gay zealot from Topeka, Kansas.
Graham is a mean-spirited Christian nationalist, and one of the most consistent voices arguing that Christians in this country are being persecuted, victimized and "excluded from the public square." Over the past few years, he has carved out a well-deserved reputation as one of America's leading religious-based Islamophobes. These days, he is also one of those conservative evangelical Christian leaders that appears to be able twist themselves into a pretzel in their defense of the sexpisodes of President Donald Trump.
Last week, for example, they spent a fair amount of time bending over backwards in defense of Trump's pre-2016 election $130,000 payoff to keep secret the 2006 sexual encounter he had with adult-film star Stormy Daniels. The affair happened while Trump was married to his current wife, Melania, and just a few months after Melania gave birth to their son, Barron. Now, Graham has decided to warn America that there are forces in this country that are not above staging "a coup d'etat" against Trump.
"I believe we are in a coup d'etat," Franklin Graham said Wednesday on the "Todd Starnes Radio Show." "There are people in this country who are wanting to destroy the president and take over the government by force."
As Fox News' Starnes pointed out, "Graham revealed his concerns as congressional Republicans ramp up accusations that deep state actors within the FBI and the Justice Department may have been plotting against the president. "The evangelical leader did not name names, but he suggested the mainstream media was complicit in the silent coup."
"They are not going to use bullets," Graham said. "They are using the media – to plant thoughts in people's minds that he's incompetent, that he's dangerous, that you can't trust him with nuclear weapons, that he is mentally unstable."
Over the years, Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse,
appears to want to be seen as a muscular Clint Eastwood-type Christian, unafraid to call a spade a spade. At the drop of a hat he has spoken out on many issues: the use of a chapel at Duke University by Muslims; transgendered bathrooms in Charlotte, North Carolina; the so-called persecution of U.S. Christians by secularists; and the serial failures of President Barack Obama.
A few years back, during an interview on the Fox News Channel's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren," Graham was asked why the White House's refused to use the term "radical Islam" in describing the terrorists in the Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaida and other groups.
"His mother was married to a Muslim," Graham responded. "His father was a Muslim. Then she married a man from Indonesia. He was raised in Indonesia. Went to Islamic schools. I assume she was a Muslim. So his whole life, his experiences have been surrounded by Islam. He only knows Islam. And he has given a pass to Islam. He is refusing to understand the evil that is in front of him."
In an interview with the conservative website Newsmax.com, Graham claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the Obama administration: "The Muslim Brotherhood is very strong and active here in our country. It's infiltrated every level of our government. Right now, we have many of these people that are advising the US military and State Department on how to respond in the Middle East, and it's like asking a fox, like a farmer asking a fox, 'How do I protect my hen house?' We've brought in Muslims to tell us how to make policy toward Muslim countries. And many of these people we've brought in, I'm afraid, are under the Muslim Brotherhood."
In late November of last year, Right Wing Watch's Miranda Blue reported that Graham had been in contact with Alabama's Judge Roy Moore. According to Moore surrogate Stan Cooke, before Moore went on Sean Hannity's Fox News program to explain himself, he received a call from Graham that lifted his spirits. "Franklin Graham had called him to lift him up, encourage him. They talked about Joseph in the Old Testament, how he was accused by Potiphar's wife, a story that's familiar to all Christians. And so he was on cloud nine that Franklin Graham had called him."
When asked about Moore in an interview with the Charlotte Observer, Graham said he didn't know if he believes Moore's accusers: "I don't know. I don't know these women. All I know is he's been [in] public service all of these years – 40 years – and a month before the election these women [have come forward]. And I talked to Roy Moore, I asked him. He said 'I don't even know them.' So, I don't know."
Over the years, particularly during the presidency of Barack Obama, Graham consistently expressed admiration for President Vladimir Putin of Russia. According to Right Wing Watch, "Graham hailed Putin as a hero for taking 'a stand to protect his nation's children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda' even as 'America's own morality has fallen so far on this issue.'"
These days, Graham's unequivocal support for Trump has come under fire from conservative Christian evangelicals disappointed with him, and conservative columnists outraged by his hypocrisy. Graham's latest musings about a coup d'etat seems to indicate that he may have hit bottom. However, just like Trump, whom you never know how low he will go, Graham may have a way to go before being completely swallowed up by the quicksand of Trumpism.