Columbus — Franklin Graham called Oct. 6 for a “Christian Revolution,” with believers running for public office and organizing into community groups for prayer for the nation.
And voting — particularly in next month’s presidential election.
“I’m not here to tell you who to vote for,” the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham told an audience of more than 6,000 people gathered outside the Statehouse. “God will do that. But you vote… and not just for the presidential election. I’m talking about voting for every election. Study and look at who’s running and let’s vote for people that have biblical faith, basic biblical faith.”
He added, “You may have to hold your nose, OK, but you vote, because you’re not voting just for one person, you’re voting for a team, there’s two people on each ticket… You have to decide which ones you think are the best.”
Graham offered the comments as part of his Decision America Tour. The Ohio rally was the 47th on the national tour, with three more dates scheduled at other state capitols in coming days.
The Columbus stop included more than an hour of songs, prayer, a Gospel presentation and comments about the direction and future of the country.
There were also a few protesters, mostly representing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, who held signs and made their presence known while standing on the sidewalk just outside the rally area on the west lawn.
Graham isn’t publicly endorsing a presidential candidate at the events, though many in the crowd Oct. 6 weren’t hiding their leanings — there were Trump signs and Trump stickers, an occasional “Make America Great Again” hat and at least one “We’re Not Deplorable” sign.
Attendees like Cathy Williams, a Columbus woman, know who they’re voting for in next month’s presidential election, but they were on hand to pray and join other Christians preparing to hit the polls.
“They have to exercise that right that we have to vote,” she said. “It always comes [down to] two people, and it might be the lesser of two evils, so to speak, but you have to still vote.”
Graham wasn’t siding with Republicans or Democrats, either, saying he isn’t putting his hope in the nation’s two major political parties.
“We’re here today because our nation’s in trouble,” he said. “… I’m here to tell you no party can turn this thing around… I have zero hope in the Democratic Party… I have zero hope in the Republican Party. The only hope that I have for the United States of America is almighty God and his son, Jesus Christ… All the politicians have just helped make the mess that we find our country in.”
Graham said Christians should vote for candidates who will honor God and protect the nation’s biblical heritage and religious freedoms. And he urged believers to consider public service.
“Our forefathers never intended for us to leave our faith out here on the steps if we worked in that building,” he said, speaking on the Statehouse steps.
He added, “I think it’s the duty of Christian men and women to offer themselves for office, and I would like to encourage not only to vote, but I would encourage Christians to run.”
Graham also pointed to the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in the November election — the next president likely will appoint multiple justices to the nation’s high court.
“This election is not about personalities,” he said. “This election is not about tone… It’s about the Supreme Court, that’s what this election’s about… It’s so important that you vote. Pray before you vote, but vote, because this election’s about the Supreme Court.”
And to evangelicals having a problem holding their nose and voting for someone at the top of the ticket?
“Both candidates have flaws; they’re not perfect people. None of us are,” Graham told reporters after the rally. “I think sometimes evangelicals try to hold certain candidates to [standards] like their pastor would be. But they’re not our pastor, but you want to try to find candidates that at least are sympathetic to what we stand for and what we believe.”
He added, “I’m not endorsing any candidates. I tell people, look at the issues, look at the candidates, look at what they stand for, and then make their decision….”
Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.