Evangelist Franklin Graham condemned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for his 2005 remarks about women, but said the real estate magnate's comments are as indefensible as "the godless progressive agenda of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton" and that the Democratic candidate would prove to be more harmful for America's future.
"The crude comments made by Donald J. Trump more than 11 years ago cannot be defended," Graham wrote in a Facebook post. "But the godless progressive agenda of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton likewise cannot be defended."
A leaked video published by The Washington Post Friday carries Trump's 2005 remarks while talking with Billy Bush, then host of the "Access Hollywood" entertainment show. The real estate magnate is heard discussing a failed attempt to seduce Nancy O'Dell. "I did try and [expletive] her. She was married," Trump says. "You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait," he adds. "And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything."
Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, clarified he is not endorsing any candidates in this election.
"I have said it throughout this presidential campaign, and I will say it again — both candidates are flawed. The only hope for the United States is God," he wrote.
"Our nation's many sins have permeated our society, leading us to where we are today. But as Christians we can't back down from our responsibility to remain engaged in the politics of our nation," Graham continued.
"On Nov. 8 we will all have a choice to make. The two candidates have very different visions for the future of America. The most important issue of this election is the Supreme Court. That impacts everything. There's no question, Trump and Clinton scandals might be news for the moment, but who they appoint to the Supreme Court will remake the fabric of our society for our children and our grandchildren, for generations to come," he concluded.
While about two dozen Republican leaders, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, have rescinded their endorsements of Trump since the video surfaced, several evangelical and Republican leaders continue to back the GOP presidential candidate to prevent Clinton from becoming president.
Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a member of Trump's religious advisory board, has also said he's still with the Republican candidate.
"As a Christian, I believe that the Bible teaches, to quote a verse from the New Testament, that we're to treat older women as our mothers and younger women as sisters in all purity ...," Reed told NPR in an interview Saturday, adding that Trump has apologized. "I think given the stakes in this election and those and other critical issues, I just don't think an audiotape of an 11-year-old private conversation with an entertainment talk show host on a tour bus, for which the candidate has apologized profusely, is likely to rank high on the hierarchy of concerns of those faith-based voters."