Commentary, Education

NC GOP leaders must disavow Franklin Graham’s attack on public education

Former Gov. Pat McCrory appearing with Graham during his tenure in office. Image: Franklin Graham’s Facebook page

It’s never particularly surprising when the Rev. Franklin Graham makes outrageous statements and/or takes extremist, right-wing stands on various matters. It’s even less surprising when Graham’s pals in the state Republican Party turn a blind eye to such statements and stances. Heck, one of Graham’s employees, Deanna Ballard, holds a seat in the state Senate.

But when Graham’s words serve to undermine one of the central missions of state government, it’s time for everyone — including his allies and those who usually turn a blind eye to his various stances out of fear of being seen to cross an iconic figure of the religious right — to muster up a measure of courage and push back.

Now is one of those times.

It seems that Graham, who is traversing the state this week and next as part of a “Tar Heel State Tour” made the following recent statement according to an email distributed by the American Renewal Project, which is another religious right group that is hosting an event in Charlotte this week featuring Lt. Gov. Dan Forest:

Speaking on Fox’s Todd Starnes Radio Show, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse chief Franklin Graham also urged parents to get their children out. In a conversation about New Jersey’s new law mandating LGBT lessons to school children, Graham said the time had come.

Starnes asked Graham what advice he would give Christian moms and dads: “I mean do they pull their kids out of public school or do they homeschool, private school?” the Fox host asked. “What should they do?”

“Oh, absolutely,” Graham replied without hesitation, breaking new ground. “I’d pull them out of public school and put them in private school.”

The information about Graham’s stance was packaged with the statements of three other far right figures: right-wing radio fire-breather Rush Limbaugh, Catholic talk show host “Mother Miriam,” and religious activist David Lane, who heads the American Renewal Project.

As Policy Watch reported last month, Lane has repeatedly stated that it is part of “God’s plan” to “free Christian children from public education.” In addition to Forest, the event he and his group will be hosting this week in Charlotte will feature:

  • A pastor who calls the notion of a separation between church and state “cowardice” and those in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality “militant homofascists” bent on turning the U.S. into Sodom.
  • An author who has railed against Muslims as would-be conquerors and rapists and LGBTQ rights as a first step to America living under Sharia law.
  • A pastor and Republican politician who has asserted anyone not committed to the U.S. as an explicitly Judeo-Christian nation should leave the country.

The bottom line: Forest, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, Senator Ballard and other leading conservatives should disavow Graham’s statement and those of other far right figures who would undermine our state’s public education system. To the extent they continue to embrace such extremists, they make it impossible to see their actions vis a vis our public schools as anything other than part of a plan to destroy them.

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