Some faith leaders are pushing back against famed evangelist Franklin Graham after he wrote a Facebook post addressed to “blacks, whites, Latinos, and everybody else," in which he proclaimed that “most police shootings can be avoided,” and that teaching “respect for authority and obedience” is essential.
Writer and faith leader Lisa Sharon Harper, among others, subsequently dismissed Graham's post as "short" and "patronizing," noting that pastors and the faithful who are opposed to its sentiment came together to write an open letter rebuking the faith leader.
"We didn’t know if our words would resonate. We only knew the truth that we must speak in response to Graham’s outsized influence coupled with apparent ignorance," Harper wrote in an op-ed describing the letter. "In the end, a broad representation of national evangelical leaders agreed to sign this letter to Graham as principal signatories."
Rev. Franklin Graham (AP Photo)
She said that Graham's comments wouldn't be tolerated and that faith leaders across the nation felt compelled to speak out.
"We will not tolerate this type of flippant, patronizing commentary from faith leaders on critical issues that mean life and death for many in the body of Christ and in communities across America," she wrote. "We won’t tolerate it, even one more day."
In the letter, signatories wrote that they wished to "reconcile" with Graham, who had written on his Facebook page on March 12 that, regardless of whether people think a police officer is wrong, they must obey commands from authority figures.
"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," Graham wrote. "It’s as simple as that."
But faith leaders who signed the letter said it isn't really all that simple, telling Graham that his words were "paternalistic" and have "hurt and influenced thousands."
"You have sinned against us, fellow members of the body of Christ," the letter reads.
Signatories accused Graham of insinuating that police shootings of unarmed citizens would have been avoided if people had submitted to police authority — a notion that was dismissed in the letter as inappropriate and lacking compassion.
"The fact that you identify a widely acknowledged social injustice as 'simple' reveals your lack of empathy and understanding of the depth of sin that some in the body have suffered under the weight of our broken justice system," the letter read. "It also reveals 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 and antebellum slavery, through Jim Crow and peonage, to our current system of mass incarceration and criminalization."
A voicemail left for Graham's representative seeking comment has not yet been returned to TheBlaze.