Last week a special invitation was made by Rev. Franklin Graham to pray for president Donald Trump. It is not unusual for religious leaders to ask parishioners to pray for those in government leadership roles; the presidency in particular. This, though, was different.
Typically, people are invited to pray for wisdom, and strength for the president to do what is aligned with God’s will. The Apostle Paul even encouraged Timothy to pray: “For kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
What made Graham’s call different was that it was couched as a directive for faithful people to follow because the president is under siege from critics. It was less a call to pray for the president and more a call to call down the wrath of God on those who oppose him.
“In the history of our country, no president has been attacked as he has,” said Graham. He said that a day of prayer was needed for “spiritual warfare” because Mr. Trump’s many accomplishments have made him “very unpopular with the Devil and the kingdom of darkness.”
There is a careful line that clergy and churches need to walk in political matters. Religion can play a helpful role in politics only if it kept above politics. In this case, Graham put politics above religion. Said differently, he put religion in the service of partisan politics.
In a country as divided as ours right now, this is a dangerous thing to do. It does not help spread the gospel. It does not draw more people to the Christian faith. It only functions to divide our population—and Christians themselves—even more. It unlinks us. It stokes fires of distrust and hatred.
For any Christian, Christ should never be secondary to any political figure or cause. No person of faith should presume to be able to know the mind and heart of our Creator-God so well as to presume who has access to grace and who is deserving of punishment.
Praying for someone should never be equated with praying against someone else. Unfortunately, Graham combined the two and created something unhelpful at best and toxic at worst.
See you in church,