Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has urged Christians to pray for “peace and calm” during the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris Wednesday.
“Today as our country inaugurates a new president, there are concerns that there could be violence in Washington, DC, and in state capitals across the nation. I encourage Christians to make this a day of prayer—for peace and calm, and praying for our new leaders, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris,” Graham, who also leads Samaritan’s Purse, said in a statement on Facebook.
Graham’s call for calm comes in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building by pro-Trump supporters and others in Washington, D.C., that left five people dead. The protesters sought to prevent the confirmation of Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election by Congress.
Citing Graham's previous remarks in support of Trump's argument that the election was stolen, progressive Christian group Faithful America launched a petition last Friday, accusing Graham of sedition and calling on directors of Samaritan's Purse and BGEA to fire him.
“As long as Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association stand by Franklin Graham, it must be said that these once-vaunted organizations have forgotten their original Christian missions, abandoned the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and are complicit in the spread of dishonest, discredited election conspiracy theories and the deadly, unpatriotic, white-nationalist terrorism at the U.S. Capitol incited by those lies,” said a message, which Faithful America said was sent to board members of the two Christian organizations led by Graham.
“Our faith in Jesus Christ demands that we do better than this. Your fellow Christians from across the country call on you to fire Franklin Graham, or to resign from the Board in individual protest.”
The petition has garnered more than 20,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.
Faithful America, which was founded in 2004, describes itself as “the largest online community of Christians putting faith into action for social justice.”
“Our members are sick of sitting by quietly while Jesus' message of good news is hijacked by the religious right to serve a hateful political agenda. We're organizing the faithful to challenge such extremism and renew the church's prophetic role in building a more free and just society,” the group explains on its website.
The group is led by Rev. Nathan Empsall, an Episcopal priest and veteran digital organizer, and has organized numerous petitions, including ones against former President Donald Trump, World Vision and Family Research Council.
Trump left the White House for the last time Wednesday morning to make way for the Biden administration.
“You are amazing people. This is a great, great country. It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your president,” Trump told his supporters.
He further wished the incoming administration "great luck," before ending: "Have a good life, we will see you soon."