Franklin Graham Praises Audience for Reciting Banned Bible Verse at 'Charlie Brown Christmas' Play

Franklin Graham, head of international relief organization Samaritan's Purse, visits one of the organization's cholera treatment centers in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, January 8, 2011.
Franklin Graham, head of international relief organization Samaritan's Purse, visits one of the organization's cholera treatment centers in the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, January 8, 2011. | (Photo: Reuters/Allison Shelley)

Leading evangelist Franklin Graham praised audience members who defied school administrators by reciting a Bible passage that was barred from a Kentucky elementary school's rendition of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" during the middle of the production.

After Johnson County Schools Superintendent Thomas Salyer ruled earlier this month that W.R. Castle Elementary School's rendition of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" was not allowed to include Linus' recital of Luke 2:8-14 — arguably the climax of the play — in order to maintain separation of church and state, many audience members at last Thursday night's performance joined together to recite the passage aloud at the point of the play where the scripture recital had been omitted.

"When Peanuts' creator Charles [Shulz] originally wrote the Christmas special 50 years ago and included Linus's recitation of the birth of Jesus directly from the Gospel of Luke, producers tried to drop Jesus then," Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, explained in a Facebook post Sunday night.

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"They said putting the Bible in animation hadn't been done before. But Schultz didn't back down then, and we shouldn't back down now. He was absolutely right when he said, 'If we're going to do a Christmas special, we've really got to do it the right way and talk about what Christmas is all about,'" Graham continued. "In this school's performance, members of the audience knew what had happened — and so they jumped in and recited the scripture that had been taken out. Good for them!"

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Graham also lambasted school administrators for bowing down to the complaint of one parent and removing Christ from a play about the true meaning of Christmas  — the celebration of His birth.

"Students were ordered to leave out the true meaning of Christmas recorded in the Bible. What kind of Christmas program is that?" Graham questioned. "It's a shame that many no longer welcome Christ in His own story! The school superintendent said that the entire passage was cut after the district received a single complaint — One! Good grief."

Matt Sharp, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group that sent a letter to the school district last week saying there is no legal precedent forcing the school to ban the Bible passage from the play, explained that the students were instructed to stay silent at the part of the play where Linus was to recite the passage.

"It sounded like the community really stepped up," Sharp told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The school's principal Jeff Cochran said he was not happy with the audience's recitation of the passage.

"I wish that they had let the kids do the play," Cochran told the Herald-Leader.

Graham, who is a frequent commentator in current events, also took to Facebook this past weekend to praise a 15-year-old Tennessee high school football player who sacrificed his own life to save girls from gunfire.

"We've heard a lot about black lives matter — and they unquestionably do. All lives matters to God. Zaevion Dobson was a 15-year-old high school sophomore and football player — described as a fine young man with a contagious personality, who was well liked and successful. He's also a hero," Graham wrote. " I thank God for young people like this who are willing to do the right thing — our world needs more of them."

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