Thursday, March 26, 2015

Franklin Graham says cops are God's enforcers and must be obeyed

Why do I think that this "advice" from Franklin Graham on his Facebook page from March 12 sounds like standard segregationist justification for white cops shooting unarmed black people for no good reason?

Well, probably because he's offering the kind of advice in dealing with the police that I guess white people in America have been offering to blacks since forever, i.e., do whatever a white cop says no matter what:

Listen up--Blacks, Whites, Latinos, and everybody else. Most police shootings can be avoided. It comes down to respect for authority and obedience. If a police officer tells you to stop, you stop. If a police officer tells you to put your hands in the air, you put your hands in the air. If a police officer tells you to lay down face first with your hands behind your back, you lay down face first with your hands behind your back. It’s as simple as that. Even if you think the police officer is wrong—YOU OBEY. Parents, teach your children to respect and obey those in authority. Mr. President, this is a message our nation needs to hear, and they need to hear it from you. Some of the unnecessary shootings we have seen recently might have been avoided. The Bible says to submit to your leaders and those in authority “because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.”
For anyone of any race who wants to both (1) survive potentially hostile encounters with police and (2) not do things that may get you railroaded on some false charge (or for that matter, undermine your legal position if you're doing something not legal), the ACLU has a real-world guide online, Know Your Rights: What To Do If You're Stopped By Police, Immigration Agents or the FBI n/d; accessed 03/26/2015).

I'm pretty sure there are cops who aren't acting on Divine authority every moment they're dressed in their uniform: Iris Carrabers, CBS News 11/25/2013; Mark Wilson, $10M lawsuit filed for alleged SAPD traffic stop rape MySA 03/26/2014.

The ACLU's advice on the kind of situation in which Franklin Graham pretty much explicitly advises that you should treat the police officer as God's personal representative (bolding in original):

Stay calm. Don't run. Don't argue, resist or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or police are violating your rights. Keep your hands where police can see them.
Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why.
You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions. If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud. In some states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself.
You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may "pat down" your clothing if they suspect a weapon. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do consent, it can affect you later in court."
The liberal-evangelical Protestant journal Sojourners has prrinted the text of An Open Letter to Franklin Graham (03/19/2015 with commentary) prepared by several pastors:

As your brothers and sisters in Christ, who are also called to lead the body, we are disappointed and grieved by your abuse of the Holy Scriptures. You lifted Hebrews 13:17 out of its biblical context and misappropriated it in a way that encourages believers to acquiesce to an injustice that God hates. That text refers to church leadership, not the secular leadership of Caesar.

Are you also aware that your commentary resonates with the types of misinterpretations and rhetoric echoed by many in the antebellum church? Are you aware that the southern slavocracy validated the systematic subjugation of human beings made in the image of God by instructing these enslaved human beings to “obey their masters because the Bible instructed them to do so?”

Your blanket insistence on obedience in every situation exposes an ignorance of church history. God called Moses to resist and disobey unjust authority. Joseph and Mary were led by the Spirit to seek asylum in Egypt, disobeying the unjust decrees passed down by authority figures in order to ensure the safety of Jesus. And Paul himself resisted authority and ultimately wrote Romans 13 from jail.
And they remind Graham that being an apologist for arbitrary authority isn't unquestionably Christian, either:

As one who understands human depravity, your statement demonstrates a profound disregard for the impact of sinful individuals when given power to craft systems and structures that govern millions. The outcome is oppression and impoverishment — in a word, injustice.

Finally, if you insist on blind obedience, then you must also insist that officers of the justice system obey the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right of all to equal protection under the law. Yet, reports confirm unconscious racial biases in policing, booking, sentencing, and in return produce racially disparate outcomes within our broken justice system.

Likewise, you must also call on officers to honor their sworn duty to protect and serve without partiality. The Federal Bureau of Investigations director, James B. Comey, acknowledges that law enforcement has fallen short of this mandate: “First, all of us in law enforcement must be honest enough to acknowledge that much of our history is not pretty. At many points in American history, law enforcement enforced the status quo, a status quo that was often brutally unfair to disfavored groups.”
Although, I have to say that quoting James Comey to make a point about Christian obligations to promote justice isn't necessarily the ideal choice, either!

But that's not the only way that Franklin Graham is making himself into an ugly piece of work (Stoyan Zaimov, Franklin Graham Says Obama's 'Sympathy to Islam' Will Lead to Christian and Jewish Persecution in America Christian Post 03/03/2015):

The Rev. Franklin Graham has warned in an interview that President Barack Obama is "very sympathetic to Islam" and that America's foreign policy is influenced by Muslims. He added that this influence could lead to Christians and Jewish people being persecuted in the United States.

"There are Muslims that have access to him in the White House. Our foreign policy has a lot of influence now, from Muslims. We see the prime minister of Israel being snubbed by the president and by the White House and by the Democrats and it's because of the influence of Islam. They hate Israel and they hate Christians, and so the storm is coming, I believe," Graham told Gordon Robertson, host of CBN's "The 700 Club" interactive program.

Graham further pointed out that Obama had a Muslim father, and that as a child the president went to school in Indonesia, which has the largest Islamic population in the world.

"So, growing up his frame of reference and his influence as a young man was Islam. It wasn't Christianity, it was Islam," the evangelist said.
Aside from treating "Islam" as inherently evil and threatening to the freedom of Christian and Jews, his premise is just stock rightwing fantasy.

And this by Sami Martin, Franklin Graham Warns Christians in America 'Persecution Is Coming' Christian Post 03/09/2015:

"I believe we're going to see persecution in this country," Graham said during an interview on "Fox and Friends Weekend" on Sunday. "We've already seen many laws that have been passed that restrict our freedom as Christians. I believe it's going to get worse, and we see no question gaining influence in Washington by those that represent the Islamic faith. We do have a problem in this country and we are losing our religious freedom and we're losing it a little bit day by day."

It's not the first time that Graham, the son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, has issued a warning for Christian Americans. He previously warned that America's morality was crumbling because President Obama "defends Islam and chastises Christians, rebukes our allies and befriends our enemies, and fully supports gay marriage and abortion but denies the religious freedoms of those who don't agree," in a post on Facebook.
This is a typical white Christian fundamentalist persecution fantasy. And it's based on a reversal of intelligible meanings of words and concepts. To Graham and the Christian Right, laws that allow gays and lesbians to live and marry freely are restricting the freedom of Christians because Christians are then no longer "free" to persecute gays and lesbians.

And he says that police, even those who are rapists and murderers, are people we have to obey without question because "they keep watch over" us on behalf of God.

This is ugly fanaticism, not any kind of sensible or honorable version of Christianity.

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