A petition calling for evangelist Franklin Graham to be removed as the chairman, president and CEO of the charitable organization Samaritan’s Purse has garnered more than 11,000 signatures as of Wednesday.
The petition is calling for Graham’s removal over a prayer he led at the Republican National Convention last week.
The petition, organized by the group Faithful America, has received 11,274 signatures as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. The organization is “the largest online community of Christians putting faith into action for social justice,” according to its website.
The campaign, which was launched Friday, says “The final night of the 2020 Republican convention began with a partisan appearance from notoriously homophobic preacher Franklin Graham, who prayed, ‘I thank you tonight for our president, Donald J. Trump… in the mighty name of your Son.'”
“Standing behind a Trump-Pence campaign sign, Graham also used Jesus’s name to give thanks for ‘the many blessings we have received these past four years.’ We would hardly consider family separation, the deadly federal COVID-19 response, rampant corruption and authoritarianism, or ongoing systemic racism to be ‘blessings,’ ” the statement continued.
Graham, who has supported Trump since 2016, opened the final night of the Republican National Convention with a prayer last week, saying “Father, we know that you can make this nation great once again, if we turn our eyes and our hearts to you and follow your word and obedience.”
The evangelical leader and son of the Rev. Billy Graham has served as president and CEO of the aid organization Samaritan’s Purse since 1979. The organization “has met the needs of poor, sick, and suffering people in more than 100 countries,” according to its website.
The petition calls on the international organization to cut ties with Graham, saying that “his right-wing politics can only damage your credibility as a loving, Christian humanitarian organization.”
“If the full Board will not vote to remove Graham as chairman, president, and CEO, then individual Board members can take a personal stand for the Gospel and offer their own resignations,” the petition states.
Evangelical Christians represent a key portion of the president’s base of supporters. A Pew Research Center survey released in July found that the president’s support among white evangelical protestants remained high at 72 percent, but it had dropped 6 points since April.
In a statement to The Hill, Samaritan’s Purse said “Franklin Graham does not tell people who to vote for, but he does encourage everyone to pray and to vote. If the Democratic National Convention had asked him to pray, he would have prayed at the DNC as well. The most important thing any of us can do for our nation is to pray for our leaders, regardless of their political affiliation.”
“Franklin Graham continues to lead Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association with the purpose of sharing God’s love and the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with hurting people around the world,” the organization continued. “Under Franklin’s leadership, Samaritan’s Purse is committed to providing spiritual and physical aid to victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine, as evidenced by our relief efforts in more than 130 countries over the past 50 years.”