WASHINGTON – The Rev. Franklin Graham told a large gathering of pastors on Thursday to address controversial issues from the pulpit, declaring that "God hates cowards."
Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, based his remarks on Revelation 21:8, wherein God lists eight groups of people who will be "in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
Of groups like murderers, idolaters, unbelievers, and others, the first group of persons listed were the cowardly. It was this first group that Graham focused on for his speech, titled "Standing Strong on the Controversial Issues," at the Thursday evening session for the 2014 Watchmen on the Wall National Briefing.
"The definition of a coward: a coward will not confront an issue that needs to be confronted due to fear. That is a coward," said Graham.
"God hates cowards. And the cowards that the Lord is referring to are the men and women who know the truth but refuse to speak it."
In his remarks at the dinner session, Graham spoke about the need for churches to speak out against abortion and homosexuality, declaring that "you're not going to shut me up."
"We have a responsibility to speak on the moral issues. Abortion, homosexuality, these are moral issues. This is a free country, you can do what you want to do but I want you to know it's a sin against God. This is a sin," said Graham.
Graham mentioned how he has "friends who are pastors" who say they want to preach the Gospel and not "become targets."
"Well don't you think the Lord Jesus Christ was a target?" asked Graham. "Could we get our heads chopped off? We could, maybe one day. So what? Chop it off!"
Graham's remarks were part of a multiday conference organized by the Family Research Council. Held from Wednesday to Friday, the Watchmen on the Wall National Briefing was geared toward pastors and encouraging churches to become more involved in politics, social issues, and public policy.
Featured speakers included Pastor Rafael Cruz, the father of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz; Bishop Harry Jackson, author and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland; Joyce Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries; U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, and several others.
For the Thursday evening dinner portion, attendees experienced worship led by contemporary Christian singer Charles Billingsley and were present to see awards given to assorted pastors for their actions on religious liberty.
The last honoree for the evening was Graham. FRC President Tony Perkins commended Graham for his actions in the public sphere.
"Franklin is not the pastor of a church, but in a real sense he is a pastor to America's pastors," said Perkins before presenting Graham with the 2014 Watchman Award.
"And in that role, he has sounded the alarm and raised the righteous standard as have few other leaders in our time."
The son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham, Franklin Graham has garnered controversy in recent years for his remarks on same-sex marriage, Islam, and President Barack Obama.
Some have contrasted his public career with that of his father, arguing that Franklin Graham has taken more overtly political positions than Billy Graham has.