Evangelist Franklin Graham called Tuesday for restoring “biblical principles” to all levels of politics.
“America is being stripped of biblical heritage,” Graham told a crowd of 7,100, according to estimates by organizers of the Statehouse prayer rally. “We have taken God out of our government.”
The gathering was part of Graham’s tour of 50 state capitals to champion conservative Christian values.
“Vote for candidates that stand for biblical truths and biblical tenets, and are willing to live them,” Graham urged during a 37-minute speech that blended prayer with a call for political activism rooted in traditional faith. “Go back and be an advocate to God’s truth and righteousness.”
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Complacency among Christians led to acceptance of abortion and same-sex marriage, Graham said.
“It’s not a time to be silent,” Graham said. “We’ve allowed the moral wall to deteriorate and fall down.”
Graham professed “zero hope” that Democrats or Republicans will provide a path to his vision of a political revival, instead urging a focus on individual candidates.
Races for city offices and school boards are as important as those for higher office in stopping the “secularism” that slowly is eliminating religion from public decisions, he added.
Graham urged pastors to provide their congregations with guidance on candidates but he stopped short of promoting any.
His remarks blended revival style with a modern twist — listeners were instructed how to text Graham’s North Carolina-based organization for information on various topics.
The audience included members of churches statewide that rally organizers had invited.
Some in the crowd are unhappy with what they see as an increasingly nasty tone in politics, particularly in the race for the White House. The S.C. GOP presidential primary will be held Feb. 20, followed by the state’s Democratic primary on Feb. 27.
“I don’t like politicians cutting each other down,” Columbia’s Nancy Cooper said. “They’re acting like children who don’t get along with each other at recess.”
In 1958, a Statehouse rally planned by the Graham’s well-known father, Billy, was moved to Fort Jackson after then-Gov. George Timmerman opposed the elder evangelist’s stand on integration.
Today, the 97-year-old father Billy Graham is too frail for public evangelism.
“His job today is to pray,” Franklin Graham told the crowd Tuesday.
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483