Granddaughters of the late evangelist Billy Graham voiced differing opinions about President Donald Trump Tuesday, with one praising the president during a Republican National Convention speech hours after the other published an op-ed critical of Trump's evangelical supporters.
Cissie Graham Lynch, the daughter of the outspoken conservative Franklin Graham, offered brief remarks in Washington, D.C. on the second night of the RNC.
Her speech came just hours after an op-ed written by her cousin, Jerushah Duford, was published in USA Today accusing evangelicals of “failing the Gospel” for supporting Trump.
In her speech, the 34-year-old Lynch wasted little time in explaining why evangelicals shouldn’t support the Biden-Harris ticket or the Democratic Party.
She criticized the Obama administration for its “attack” on First Amendment rights and for putting “little girls at risk” through enacting pro-transgender policies.
She went as far as to accuse the Biden-Harris vision for America of “leaving no room for people of faith.”
Lynch, who serves with both BGEA and the evangelical humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse, said America’s Founding Fathers “fought to ensure that voices of faith are always welcomed, not silenced, not bullied.”
“But during the Obama-Biden administration, these freedoms were under attack,” she warned. “Democrats tried to make faith organizations pay for abortion-inducing drugs. Democrats tried to force adoption agencies to violate their deeply held beliefs. Democrats pressured schools to allow boys to compete in girls’ sports and use girls’ locker rooms.”
“Those are the facts. But then, we the people elected Donald Trump,” Lynch, who also serves on President Trump’s Faith Advisory Council, continued.
Lynch asserted that after Trump’s election, people of faith had a “fierce advocate” in the White House who appointed judges who “respect the First Amendment.”
Lynch noted how the Trump administration has supported Christians facing legal discrimination challenges related to their religious beliefs on sexuality and marriage in court. She said the Trump administration has “ensured religious ministries would not be forced to violate their beliefs.”
“He withdrew the policies that placed our little girls at risk,” Lynch said, most likely referring to Trump’s reversal of the Obama administration’s guidance instructing school districts nationwide to allow male students to use girls' restrooms, showers and locker rooms if they identify as female, and vice-versa.
Lynch also praised Trump for talking about the importance of religious freedom at the United Nations last year.
“In America, we have not faced physical persecution, even though the left has tried to silence us,” she said. ”Even during the pandemic, we saw how quickly life can change. Some Democratic leaders tried to ban church services while marijuana shops and abortion clinics were declared ‘essential.’ But do you know what truly is essential, our right to worship freely and live our faith in every aspect of life.”
“They will force the choice between being obedient to God or to Cesar,” she added. “Because the radical left’s God is government power. So in the words of my grandfather Billy Graham, let us stand for political freedom, moral freedom, religious freedom, and the rights of all Americans, and let’s never give in to those who would attempt to take it from us.”
In her USA Today op-ed, Duford describes herself as the “granddaughter of the man largely credited for beginning the evangelical movement.”
Duford, an evangelical author, speaker and member the NeverTrump Republican group Lincoln Project, decried evangelical support for Trump as exit polls from 2016 showed about eight in 10 white evangelical voters voted for Trump.
She called for “Christian women [to] step up where our church leaders won't.”
“I have spent my entire life in the church, with every big decision guided by my faith. But now, I feel homeless. Like so many others, I feel disoriented as I watch the church I have always served turn their eyes away from everything it teaches,” Duford wrote. “I hear from Christian women on a daily basis who all describe the same thing: a tug at their spirit.”
Duford said most of those women walked into voting booths in November 2016 and were forced to vote for Trump as a “lesser of two evils.”
But she said that there is a “tug” that some women are feeling regarding Trump.
“I feel it every time our president talks about government housing having no place in America’s suburbs,” she said. “Jesus said repeatedly to defend the poor and show kindness and compassion to those in need. Our president continues to perpetuate an us-versus-them narrative, yet almost all of our church leaders say nothing.”
Duford added that the “gentle tug became an aggressive yank” for her after the country erupted into riots and protests. She accused Trump of displaying “divisive rhetoric.”
“I watched our president walk through Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., after the tear gassing of peaceful protesters for a photo op,” she added. “He held a Bible, something so sacred to all of us, yet he treated that Bible with a callousness that would offend anyone intimately familiar with the words inside it. He believed that action would honor him and only him. However, the church, designed to honor God, said nothing.”
Graham’s granddaughter expressed disappointment that some evangelical leaders praised Trump’s photoshoot in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.
“The entire world has watched the term ‘evangelical’ become synonymous with hypocrisy and disingenuousness,” she claimed. “My faith and my church have become a laughing stock, and any attempt by its members to defend the actions of Trump at this time sound hallow and insincere.”
Duford, who is the niece of Franklin Graham, told Newsweek that she has not spoken to her uncle about her joining the Lincoln Women, an arm of the Lincoln Project founded by NeverTrump Republicans like George Conway, who announced Sunday that he's stepping away from the group to focus on his family.
Duford explained that a large reason for involvement in the Never Trump campaign is because of her uncle being seen as one of the most prominent evangelical supporters of Trump.