Easily the biggest round of applause at this weekend’s The Awakening conference in Orlando came when evangelist Franklin Graham walked on stage. Although the Religious Right event took place at a seemingly generationally and racially diverse megachurch, the attendees were largely older and white, and Graham — the son of evangelist royalty Billy Graham — represented a link to an era of a powerful, politically connected evangelical leaders.
Graham captured the spirit of the crowd when he railed against pastors and churches for giving up on condemning homosexuality and abortion for fear of offending congregants, telling the audience of activists that “God will bless you and he’ll honor you if you speak up and you tell the truth” about those issues.
“Let me tell you something. A lot of pastors have quit preaching against homosexuality. You know why? I’ll tell you why. Because they are afraid that there may be some man or woman in the congregation whose son or daughter is gay,” he said, lamenting that some pastors are tempted to “just shut up” about homosexuality.
“Don’t shut up, guys,” he said to wild applause. “You don’t shut up. If the people that are coming after you, ‘yak, yak, yak,’ and they want to run you out of church, then let them run you out of church. Go to another church, let them have that church. I’ll tell you what, God will bless you and he’ll honor you if you speak up and you tell the truth.”
He added that it was “the same with abortion”: “Don’t shut up. It’s a sin against God, okay? It’s murder.”
“Young people in the church today don’t know that homosexuality is wrong because pastors aren’t speaking up, but they go to school and teachers in the school tell them that it’s okay, that it’s all right, God made them that way, that’s the way they are and it’s a choice,” he warned.
Graham declared that there is a “spiritual battle” to be fought in government as well as the church.
“There’s a battle to fight,” he said. “And the battle, listen, it’s not against flesh and blood, all right? This is a spiritual battle. We’re fighting Satan and his demons and let me tell you something, they have got their way into government, they have got their way into every level of our government.”
After defeating communism, Graham said, “we just began to relax” as “secularism began to make its way into our government, into our churches.”
“There is no difference” between secularism and communism, he added, because “they’re both godless.”
He declared that Christians must run for office at every level of government in order to take back the country from this “godless system.”