On Sunday, evangelist Franklin Graham will make an appearance in Asheville as part of something he calls the Decision America Tour. He says the religious rally isn’t political, but it’s hard to separate Graham’s spiritual advocacy from his politics.
Franklin Graham, son of the late Reverend Billy Graham, will conclude his Decision America Tar Heel State Tour at the U.S. Cellular Center on Oct. 13 by asking people to make a decision. “The greatest decision that a person will make is the decision as it relates to God and His Son Jesus Christ,” Graham said. “That is the biggest decision that anyone will make and that’s the purpose of this tour. It's not a political campaign. It’s not a political rally.”
He may say it isn’t political, but Franklin Graham has been far more high-profile politically than his famous father, friend to every president since Harry Truman. Franklin’s evangelism leads him to comment on what he calls “moral issues” that affect public policy, like transgender and LGBTQ rights. “I'm not their judge, but I want to warn them that God gave sex for us to use and it’s to be used in a marriage relationship between a man and a woman,” he said. “If we get outside of that, we run the risk of hurting ourselves physically.”
He’s also long been a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, and is dismissive of comments like Trump’s recent suggestion that the U.S. build a moat on the southern border filled with alligators and snakes, and shoot crossing migrants in the legs, to slow them down when crossing the border.
“I don't defend him when he cusses. I don't defend when he says shoot people in the kneecaps. I mean, you don't defend that,” Graham said. “But I do know him well enough to know he doesn't mean that when he says it.”
Graham’s political advocacy, cloaked in evangelism, has drawn thousands of admirers to his events since 2016, but has also drawn protestors. Social media suggests demonstrators may show up this Sunday in Asheville but if they do, Franklin Graham has a message for them, too. “I would tell them they are welcome to come on in, and that I'm not speaking against anybody,” he said. “I'm for everybody.”
The event, which also features live music, is free and open to the public. Gates open at 2 p.m., and the program starts starts at 4.
A follow up story on the rally itself will air Monday afternoon on Blue Ridge Public Radio