CAL Executive Director says Progressive Church Leaders like ‘mouse droppings in the pepper.’
By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
April 2, 2015
On March 12, Rev. Franklin Graham wrote a post on his Facebook account about recent police shootings. According to ChurchLeaders.com, the post went viral with nearly 200,000 people who liked it, more than 80,000 who shared it, and more than 18,500 who commented on it.
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.”
In response, a group of “progressive” church leaders penned an open letter to the evangelist, charging his remarks were a sin, “crude, insensitive and paternalistic.” The letter was signed by Lisa Sharon Harper of Sojourners, Rev. Leroy Barber of Christian Community Development Association, pastor Dominique Gilliard of New Hope Oakland, Dr. Brian Bantum of Seattle Pacific University, Mickey ScottBey Jones of the Transform Network and Efrem Smith of World Impact. Many others would also later sign onto the letter.
Their letter accused Graham of oversimplifying the issue and possessing “a cavalier disregard for the enduring impacts and outcomes of the legal regimes that enslaved and oppressed people of color, – made in the image of God – from native American genocide and containment, to colonial antebellum slavery, through Jim Crow and peonage, to our current system of mass incarceration and criminalization.”
The letter also accused the evangelist of “an ignorance of church history,” citing Moses, Joseph and Mary, the apostle Paul, Christians in the Jim Crow South, El Salvador and South Africa, as among the many who disobeyed unjust decrees and resisted authority. “Likewise,” says the letter, “Christians who marched in Ferguson, Mo., New York City, and Madison, Wis., follow in the holy footsteps of their faithful predecessors.”
The letter accused Graham of insisting on “blind obedience,” despite reports confirming “unconscious racial biases in policing, booking, sentencing,” that produce “racially disparate outcomes within” a “broken justice system.”
In the open letter, progressive church leaders adjured Graham to “call on officers to honor their sworn duty to protect and serve without partiality,” to “understand the enduring legacy of the institution of race in our nation,” “to seek wise counsel first from those who bear the weight of the injustice and second from experts in the field.”
The letter concluded, “Ultimately, we invite you to join us in the ongoing work of the ministry of reconciliation.”
After reading the open letter, Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, contacted the North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN) and urged a letter in support of Graham be crafted.
Dave Kistler, president of the NCPN responded, “Thanks to my friend, Dr. Mark Creech of the North Carolina Christian Action League (a ministry worthy of your prayers and financial support), who brought this entire situation to my attention, I cannot remain silent! I simply cannot sit back and allow my dear brother and fellow committed follower of Christ and His word, Franklin Graham, to be maligned and criticized by a group of ministers, whose motivations appear to be advancing a false racial narrative, rather than a sincere commitment to biblical truth!”
The March 26th letter by NCPN declares support for Graham, and reads:
To Whom It May Concern:
Dr. Franklin Graham’s Facebook post of March 12, 2015, in which he stated that the problem of police shootings in America could be immediately averted if parents taught their children to respect authority, is not only Biblically correct, it is unworthy of the attack that followed from Lisa Sharon Harper and other national religious leaders via an open letter.
In addition to taking Dr. Graham to task for his encouragement to “obey” police authority, Mrs. Harper, Senior Director of Mobilizing for Sojourners, and the other national leaders, also criticized Dr. Graham for being “short” and “patronizing” in the language he used in his post.
While readily admitting that there are always some “bad eggs” within law enforcement and that we are witnessing increasing Biblical injustice by many in government, we, the American Pastors Network (APN), resolutely affirm that that reality in no way negates the Scriptures’ abundantly clear message that submission to authority is God’s over-arching expectation and clear command (Romans 13: 1-5).
As believers in, and proclaimers of, God’s eternal truth, we believe that the attitudes embodied in the united “open letter” weaken the authority of God’s commands about proper submission to authority and diminish the powerful and healing societal impacts of biblical submission. By not recognizing the Biblical principles espoused by Dr. Graham, we believe the authors of the open letter reject the opportunity for legitimate consideration of this profound truth and actually facilitate a dangerous and increasing trend toward lawlessness and defiance of authority—something that the Scriptures clearly states will become more prevalent as this age moves closer toward the unveiling of the “Lawless One” (the Anti-Christ).
So, it is with prayerful concern for the adherence to Biblical Truth that we (the American Pastors Network) declare our unwavering support for our brother, Dr. Franklin Graham, in his effort to communicate the simplicity of a powerful Biblical principle that if understood and applied would engender God’s blessing and produce healing and justice in our nation.
The letter is signed by the Hon. Samuel E. Rohrer, president and CEO of the American Pastors Network, Dr. Gary G. Dull, executive director of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network,
Dave Kistler, evangelist and president of the North Carolina Pastor’s Network, and Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.
“These ministers on the religious left are as Martin Luther described the false teachers of his day – ‘like mouse droppings in the pepper,’ said Dr. Creech. “They’re not the ‘salt’ Christ commanded us to be. Moreover, I believe they are more like the Pharisees of old and would hang Christ himself on the Cross if they thought it would strengthen their popularity with men. Instead they opt to publicly crucify a real prophet of God in our time, Franklin Graham. Don’t be fooled, they are not ministers of reconciliation.”