A little over a year ago, the Rev. Franklin Graham offered a Bible reading at President Donald Trump’s inauguration. He took the rain that fell that day as a sign of God’s blessing on the new president.
After Trump’s first tumultuous year in the White House, Graham is still firmly on the president’s side.
Graham, son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham and president of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, appeared on Fox & Friends on Sunday to tout what he believes Trump accomplished during his first year.
Graham painted Trump as a defender of Christianity, someone who is standing up for Christians at a time when, the 65-year-old pastor said, the religion is being persecuted around the world.
“The world is attacking Christians because they hate the name of Christ. And President Trump has been defending Christians,” Graham said. “I find this refreshing to have a president who’s not afraid to say Jesus, he’s not afraid to have prayers where people end in the name of Jesus.”
“We’ve never had this, not in my lifetime, and he defends the Christian faith more than any president in my lifetime.“
While progressive Christian leaders and some leaders within evangelical Christianity are highly critical of Trump, Graham has long been a staunch supporter. He’s used his popular Facebook page to comment on the president’s actions and often, to defend Trump against attack.
“Whether you’re an atheist, whether you’re a Catholic, whether you’re a Protestant, a Jew, it doesn’t matter. We all are benefiting from this man,” Graham said.
He also applauded the president for being able to work under intense scrutiny from the “left,” which Graham claimed is trying to force Trump out of office in a “digital coup d’état.”
Graham’s conservative religious views and his support of Trump have sparked criticism from some of his fellow Christians. He’s made inflammatory remarks about Islam, calling it an “very evil and wicked religion.” In a 2015 Facebook post, he proposed banning Muslims from immigrating to the U.S. Months later, Trump proposed his own ban.
Graham also has defended Trump’s plans to drastically curb refugee admission to the U.S. Asked last year by HuffPost about reconciling Trump’s temporary ban on refugees with the Christian commandment to welcome, clothe and feed the stranger and to be a good Samaritan, Graham replied that he did’t see a conflict.
“It’s not a biblical command for the country to let everyone in who wants to come, that’s not a Bible issue,” he said.
More than 500 prominent evangelical leaders disagreed with that interpretation of Christian charity and signed a letter denouncing Trump’s executive order on immigration.
In addition, Graham holds deeply conservative Christian views on sexuality and often rails against the “sinful, destructive, anti-God agenda of the LGBTQ” on his Facebook page.
In the interview with Fox and Friends, Graham said that he’s “grateful” for the president and finds Trump to be an “honest” person ― although not without flaws.
“He’s not president perfect, he’s got his flaws like we all do,” Graham said. “But he’s certainly trying to fix this nation so it will be better for my grandchildren and his grandchildren. So I say God bless the man and let’s move forward.”