Evangelist Franklin Graham has warned that “there will be an attack against Christian businesses” should Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden win the election.
Appearing on Newsmax’s “America Right Now” on Saturday, Graham, the president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, expressed concern about the impact that a Biden victory and a Democratic Senate would have on people of faith and religious institutions. Before asking Graham to address those implications, host Tom Basile described the Obama administration as “perhaps the most hostile to religious freedom and the rights of conscience that we’ve seen in this country.”
“I’m afraid there will be an attack against Christian businesses like we saw during the Obama administration. Florists who refused to do flowers for a gay wedding, they will put out of business. Someone who didn’t want to make a cake for a gay wedding, put out of business,” Graham warned. During the Obama administration, many Christian-owned businesses faced lawsuits over their refusal to participate in events that violated their religious beliefs.
Barronnelle Stutzman, a Christian florist living in Washington state, has faced thousands of dollars in fines for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, citing her religious beliefs. Jack Phillips, a Christian Colorado baker, faced similar lawsuits for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding in 2012 when same-sex marriage wasn't even legal in that state.
While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission demonstrated hostility to Phillips’ religious beliefs and ordered the Washington state Supreme Court to rehear Stutzman’s case in light of that decision, both Phillips and Stutzman continue to face legal challenges.
Phillips has found himself back in court for refusing to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition, while the Washington Supreme Court concluded that it did not demonstrate hostility toward Stutzman’s religious beliefs, thereby upholding their previous decision forcing her to pay the fines.
In addition to suggesting that Christian business owners will face heightened attacks in a Biden administration, Graham warned that “the left” will “want to try to come after churches and tax churches and tax tax-exempt organizations that are doing humanitarian work, social work throughout the country.”
There is a desire among some in the Democratic Party to revoke the tax-exempt status of faith-based organizations and churches that subscribe to the biblical definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Last year, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke answered a question about whether “religious institutions like colleges, churches and charities should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage” in the affirmative. “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us,” he said.
While O’Rourke ended his bid for the presidency shortly after CNN's LGBT town hall where he made those remarks, one of the legislative initiatives supported by Biden might effectively bring O’Rourke’s proposed plans to fruition.
The Equality Act, a behemoth bill that would extend the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the LGBT community, stresses that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 “shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title.”
The Equality Act passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives last year but it has stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. Biden has vowed to sign the bill into law should he win the election and Democrats take control of the Senate.
According to Graham and 20 other prominent Christians who wrote a letter to congressional leaders urging them to oppose the legislation, “the Equality Act would gut religious freedom protections — even the protections enjoyed by houses of worship.”
The Christian leaders contended that by changing the “nondiscrimination provisions in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, some houses of worship would be barred from ensuring their leaders and other employees abide by their beliefs about marriage, sexual behavior, and the distinction between the sexes.”
Graham has issued multiple warnings about the consequences of the 2020 presidential election over the past several months. In July, he sent out a Twitter thread suggesting that the U.S. would experience “all-out socialism” if the Democrats won the election.
In August, Graham predicted that should the U.S. fall into socialism, the left would “close the Church down in many places” because of COVID-19, despite the fact that the First Amendment gives Christians the right to worship without interference from the government.
During his appearance on Newsmax, Graham stressed that he was an “independent” who analyzes both political parties' messages. He concluded that “one party is pro-life and the other is not. One party is … pro-police and supports our law enforcement, the other doesn’t.” Graham also urged the American people to “pray before they vote” and “ask God to give you wisdom as you cast that ballot.”