Central PA's LGBT News Source
In the current issue of The Central Voice (May-June 2018) now on the streets, readers are provided with a commentary from local author and historian Michael Long. The article reflects on the recent death of Rev. Billy Graham and his anit-LGBT rhetoric.
More recently, we’ve heard from his son, Rev. Franklin Graham, who didn’t fall far from the tree. He said in a Twitter message - Attention liberals and progressives: You’re all going to hell.
Her had a Twitter meltdown not long after progressive Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Rebecca Dallet won a 10-year term on the state’s highest court as part of a special election held early last month (April).
When CV asked, Michael Long, he advised gay folks to “avoid” reconciling their faith with Graham’s overall Christian beliefs. An author and Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies at Elizabethtown College, Long has a different take on LGBTQ people and religion, especially those queers who are involved in faith communities. His books include First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson and The Legacy of Billy Graham: Critical Reflections on America's Great Evangelist.
“Religious LGBT individuals would do well to avoid trying to reconcile their faith commitments with Billy Graham's condemnation of homosexuality as a "sinister form of perversion,” Long recommends. If we consider Graham’s stance on LGBT folks, let alone his position on the black civil rights movement, “we will rightly see that Reverend Graham was not ‘America's pastor’”, Long says. “He was pastor primarily to white, heterosexual men and women with the means to support his ministry's expenses - and, of course, to the political class of US society.”
If there's one place in Graham's shallow theology that LGBT individuals might draw from, “it's his sense that God accepts us the individual ‘just as I am,’ as the evangelist's favorite call-to-conversion hymn puts it,” Long opines. Although Graham himself never accepted LGBT individuals just as they were, “his message, if interpreted without condition, can offer a balm to many a troubled soul,” Long says.
That said, Long hastens to add to his observations “that there are far better spiritual and theological resources for LGBT folks to turn to these days.” He notes Patrick Cheng's groundbreaking work in queer theology, for example, who he notes describes “a real God of love who loves not just evangelicals who follow Billy Graham's legalistic admonitions but everyone, especially those on the margins of our society.”
Being fair minded, Long says “Graham no doubt helped countless individuals turn their lives around and become stronger in character and more loving in action. But it's important to remember that he also hurt countless others -- LGBT individuals, civil rights activists, and communist peasants are just a few that come to mind.”
He will lie in honor at the US Capitol Rotunda in the coming week because so many have seen him as "America's pastor." In that same rotunda is a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. “Juxtaposed to Graham's body,” Long says, “King's bust is a quiet reminder that while the civil rights leader died while working toward the beloved community he dreamed of - a place marked by racial reconciliation, economic justice, and peace -- Graham spent a great deal of his life, at least during the King years, trying to obstruct Dr. King's work.”
After King shared his Dream speech in 1963, “Graham stated that only when Jesus comes again would blacks boys and girls walk hand in hand with white boys and girls. That gives us some insight into Graham's take on the black civil rights movement,” Long thinks.
For Long, Reverend King, not Reverend Graham, is America's pastor. And Graham is certainly not queer America’s pastor.