Franklin Graham Tells 900 Evangelicals at Trump Meeting: We Are All Sinners
Editor's Note: After reaching out for comment on Tuesday, representatives of Franklin Graham informed The Christian Post Wednesday that E.W. Jackson misinterpreted Graham's comments at Tuesday's meeting between Donald Trump and evangelical leaders. A transcript of the event shows that Graham made no mention of Trump or Hillary Clinton and in no way said that Trump was a better option than Clinton. An update regarding Graham's prayer at the meeting between Trump and evangelicals can be read here.
Evangelist Franklin Graham asserted Tuesday that Donald Trump is a better option for America than Hillary Clinton, and pointed out that even godly biblical leaders like Moses and King David had huge flaws, attendees present at the closed-door meeting between Trump and over 900 evangelical leaders told The Christian Post.
Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, gave an opening prayer and remark to over 900 pastors and political leaders gathered in New York for a "conversation" with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee that was convened by United in Purpose and Ben Carson's nonpartisan organization My Faith Votes.
Although the meeting was closed to the press, outspoken Bishop E.W. Jackson of Virginia, the founder of the conservative nonprofit group S.T.A.N.D., was present at the meeting and hosted a phone conference after the meeting to give fellow Christians a rundown of what was being said by Trump and other evangelical leaders.
Although many evangelicals have been skeptical of Trump and his Christian faith, Graham reportedly told the conservative Christian crowd that Trump is a better choice to lead America than the presumptive Democratic nominee, Clinton, and that they should be willing to overlook Trump's sins.
"Franklin Graham made this point and it is a powerful one — there will never be a perfect candidate as much as we would like one. There will never be a perfect candidate. In fact, he said, 'Look, I am a sinner, we all are sinners. We all fall short of the glory of God,'" Jackson recalled. "He said that we don't get to choose between perfect evil and perfect good. We get to choose people that we believe are at least inclined to, open to, have the possibility of doing what is best for our country."
"[Graham] made quite clear that one candidate offers absolutely no hope — Hillary Clinton. And, another candidate offers a tremendous amount of hope — Donald Trump," Jackson continued. "I think he made clear where he stands. Nobody left that room wondering is he considering boycotting. Just the fact that he showed up tells you everything you need to know, really."
As Graham has toured the country encouraging evangelical Christians to vote and get involved in the political process, he has not yet endorsed any political candidate and has made clear that he will not endorse a political candidate.
"[Graham] didn't go quite to a formal endorsement but he went beyond saying that [Trump] is a better alternative," Jackson said in an interview with The Christian Post. "I think he actually forced people to think about how they might be judging Donald Trump."
"It really gave me pause and I think it gave a few others pause too because what it says is that we Christians may be selling ourselves short by looking at Donald Trump and judging his Christianity when there are no perfect Christians," Jackson added. "Different Christians have different strengths, weaknesses and different places in their development and so forth."
Terry Schilling, the executive director of the conservative think tank American Principles Project, who was also present at the meeting, told The Christian Post that Graham also explained that God takes imperfect people and turns them into leaders.
"Franklin Graham started off his speech by talking about the flaws of Moses and how Moses disobeyed God and was punished, and how David committed adultery and killed a man, and several biblical leaders and people throughout the bible that have sinned," Schilling recalled. "He said, 'Look, I am a big sinner. Franklin Graham, standing before you, is a big sinner. But I have been forgiven and seek forgiveness and there is no reason why Donald Trump can't be a good leader for us.' God picks the imperfect and turns them into leaders for us."
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., who endorsed Trump earlier this year, also gave a preliminary speech.
"They both (Graham and Falwell) assured us that Donald Trump believes in Jesus," Jackson said. "In effect, they were saying 'He is one of us. Don't judge him by your own standard of what you think a Christian should be but really just judge him by the biblical standard that he has put his faith in Jesus Christ.'"
The Christian Post reached out to Graham but he was unable to provide comment before press time.
On Tuesday evening, Graham addressed the meeting in a post published on his Facebook wall.
"This year's election is critical for our nation — we're at a turning point," Graham wrote. "I'm not endorsing any candidates, but I am going to all 50 states holding prayer rallies with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association #DecisionAmericaTour."