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Franklin Graham has been labeled the newest asset of Russian President Vladimir Putin. What heinous act could be responsible for such an accusation? This tweet below is the smoking gun:
The unmitigated gall! Imagine being depraved enough to pray that Russia’s leader would decide not to take action that could turn into a global war. The Twitterverse responded with outrage:
Jon Cooper, who has served on Barack Obama’s campaign, tweeted, “Trump-loving evangelist Franklin Graham just told his followers: ‘Pray for President Putin today.’ Unreal.”
Others tweeted that Graham had never called for prayers for Joe Biden and that Samaritan’s Purse, the relief organization of which Graham is president, should have its tax-exempt status revoked.
First off, Graham has called on people to pray for Biden, as he does with many U.S. and international leaders, such as when Biden was inaugurated. Graham said, “Today as our country inaugurates a new president, there are concerns that there could be violence in Washington, DC, and in state capitals across the nation. I encourage Christians to make this a day of prayer—for peace and calm, and praying for our new leaders, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.”
For those unfamiliar with the idea of praying for your enemies, it is a clear command in Scripture. Jesus said in Matthew 5:44-45, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (NASB1995).
Furthermore, Graham wasn’t praying for Putin to have a great day (though that would also be biblical) and he certainly wasn’t asking for prayers that Putin would win on the global stage. He was calling for prayers that Putin wouldn’t take action that would lead to war and the subsequent loss of life.
The Bible is clear not only on the value of life but the need to be slow to go to war. Both Proverbs 20:18 and 24:6 advise that kings seek guidance before choosing to go to war. Jesus alludes to the truth that a king weighs his ability to win before going to war in Luke 14:31-32. The Bible also instructs us to avoid a conflict whenever possible, such as in Romans 12:18 where Christians are instructed to be at peace with all men.
To put it bluntly, if you desire a war with Russia or any other nation, such as China, you are acting foolishly. No one should want a war that will lead to bloodshed and the loss of our sons and daughters. Imploring God to intervene in a leader’s heart to sway him not to start a war isn’t treasonous, it’s righteous, right, and merciful.
Yet that isn’t the real issue. What underlies this vehement reaction became abundantly clear as I perused Twitter accounts whose users made slanderous claims against Graham (which I cannot recommend highly enough that you should refrain from also doing). The colloquial term is “Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS).” These users clearly buy into the debunked Russia collusion hoax. It’s the reason Trump is still constantly in the news despite being out of office for over a year. The obsession with and hatred for Trump and any who are supportive of him (such as Graham) is borderline psychotic. Delusions that anyone who doesn’t actively oppose Trump is a Russian operative are closer to the ravings of a madman than the truth.
It isn’t just TDS however, but the overall polarization of the political factions, which leads to apathy towards truth and slanderous accusations of opponents. I wrote about this recently and called for Christians to not engage in hatred of political opponents. These types of tweets are the result of hatred for those you disagree with. Social media is a cesspool of evil rhetoric directed towards those on the other side of the aisle, replete with wild accusations flying with no regard for the truth or the impact those accusations could have on someone.
If you are a Christian and you disagree with Graham and made an irresponsible comment about his tweet, I encourage you to repent and apologize publicly. We must all pray that war can be avoided, and that includes praying for Putin.