Evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the famous preacher Billy Graham, has endorsed George W. Bush for president, telling a gathering of religious broadcasters that only Bush will crack down on indecency on television and radio.
Speaking to the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 15, Graham said, "If this president is not re-elected, the floodgates of this garbage is going to be open because there won't be anyone to stand against it."
Graham charged that forces he did not name are seeking to include more sexuality in television programs. He blasted the recent Super Bowl half-time show on CBS during which singer Janet Jackson's breast was exposed, calling the incident the "tip of the iceberg" for what "these people" have in store for America.
Graham claimed that CBS, The New York Times and The Washington Post will attack Bush, saying, "They'll spin little negative barbs toward Bush." He called on the broadcasters, most of whom represent non-profit tax-exempt stations and ministries, to back political candidates "who will stand against this moral corruption that is coming like a flood against this nation."
Chastising broadcasters who stay out of politics, Graham told the crowd, "I'm not going to be politically correct. I'm going to tell you the truth." Graham's endorsement of Bush, reported the Charlotte Observer, drew a standing ovation.
The newspaper also reported that Graham and Bush have longstanding ties. Graham gave the invocation at Bush's inauguration, and his father was close to Bush's father when the elder Bush was president.
But not everyone was impressed by Graham's action. M. Douglas Meeks, of Vanderbilt University's Divinity School, told the Observer that Graham should have taken a lesson from his father. Billy Graham backed politicians like President Richard M. Nixon and later regretted it, saying he wished he had stayed focused on evangelism.
"It's always unwise for the church to identify with a king or an emperor or a parliament or a party," Meeks said. "The church must be free to criticize all politics."
In other news about the Religious Right:
Alabama "Ten Commandments Judge" Roy Moore continues to drop hints that he might run for president. Moore has been speaking to state branches of the Constitution Party, a far-right third party that has ballot access in many states.
During a recent meeting of the Oregon Constitution Party, Moore was asked if the two major parties are too much alike.
"I think that's true," he replied. "As somebody from our state, George Wallace, once said, 'There's not a dime's worth of difference between them.' It's all about power. I think the people need a choice."
Moore also spoke in late February to the Montana Constitution Party. During the speech, he attacked separation of church and state, asserting it was invented by the Supreme Court in 1961.
Moore remains cagey when asked directly if he plans to run. He usually says he wants to see what happens with his appeal of his removal from the Alabama Supreme Court. On Feb. 25, Moore's attorneys made their case to a special panel of state judges that is considering the matter. A decision is pending.
Christian Voice, a Religious Right group connected with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, is trying to make a comeback in this election year. The group, long associated with Moon operative Gary Jarmin, recently announced the publication of a new booklet titled Building the Shining City, described as a guide to grassroots lobbying for Christians.
A press release from Christian Voice claims that more than 200,000 copies of the book will be distributed nationwide. The release quotes Jarmin's wife, Gina, now executive director of Christian Voice, who said, "[W]e believe it is time for a New Religious Right, creating a true pro-faith, pro-family political movement from the grassroots."
Gary Jarmin now heads a Christian Voice project called The Seniors Center, an organization that he claims has been formed to "save" Social Security. The Center boasts 94,000 members.
Is the Rev. Jerry Falwell a "compassionate conservative"? A recent comment by the Lynchburg evangelist indicates that he may be conservative but not necessarily compassionate.
Appearing on CNBC's "Capital Report" Feb. 25 alongside AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn, Falwell was asked to give his opinion on Mel Gibson's controversial movie "The Passion of the Christ," which depicts the sufferings of Jesus in graphic detail. Host Gloria Borger noted that a woman in a Kansas theater had collapsed and died after seeing the movie.
Falwell cavalierly remarked, "My opinion: that lady would have died if she was at a water fountain in the park. I don't think it had anything to do with the movie, in all respect."
Poll-axed: The American Family Association (AFA) might want to rethink its policy of conducting online polls. Last December the Tupelo, Miss.-based group founded by the Rev. Donald Wildmon, was embarrassed by the results of a survey it sponsored on gay marriage. When all the votes were tallied, 60 percent said they favored same-sex marriage, and 32 percent opposed them. (Eight percent backed civil unions.) The group had said it would share the results of the poll with Congress but dropped the plan after seeing the results.
In March, the AFA experienced another poll-related snafu. When the organization asked website visitors to say who they planned to support for president, 90 percent said Democrat John Kerry. Only 3.7 percent backed President George W. Bush, with 6 percent supporting consumer advocate Ralph Nader.