Prominent evangelical leader the Rev. Franklin Graham has reiterated his support for President Donald Trump, explaining in recent comments that the commander-in-chief “defends the faith.”
In a recent interview with Axios on HBO, excerpts of which were posted online on Sunday, the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association talked about various topics including President Trump.
“Now people say 'Well Frank but how can you defend him, when he's lived such a sordid life?' I never said he was the best example of the Christian faith,” said Graham. “He defends the faith. And I appreciate that very much.”
“Trump has admitted his faults and has apologized to his wife and his daughter for things he has done and said. And he has to stand before God for those things.”
Graham also rejected concerns that American Christianity, including evangelicalism, was becoming too closely associated with the Republican Party.
“I'm going to support politicians that are going to support the Christian faith whether they're Democrats, Republicans, independents,” continued Graham.
“Politicians that are going to guarantee my freedom of worship. And I appreciate the president has appointed now two conservative judges that are going to defend religious freedom, so amen to that.”
Graham has periodically been criticized, sometimes even by fellow social conservatives, for his strong support of Trump, even amid revelations of moral failings on the president’s part.
For example, Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center think tank, took to Twitter in January to criticize Graham’s defense of Trump regarding the Stormy Daniels pornstar payoff controversy.
“Watching Franklin Graham do all he can to yet again shield Trump from criticism, after having done the same thing on behalf of Roy Moore, is painful, discouraging and corrosive to the Christian witness,” wrote Wehner. “The best you can say is he's blind to the damage.”
Julie Roys, conservative Christian author and former host of Moody Radio’s “Up For Debate,” took to social media on Monday to say that she partly agreed and partly disagreed with Graham's comments.
“Like Graham, I appreciate that Donald J. Trump defends Christians and religious liberty,” wrote Roys on her official Facebook page. “Trump has been a faithful supporter of policies near and dear to evangelicals and for that, I am grateful.”
“But I disagree with Graham that Trump's treatment of women is a moot point simply because he apologized to his wife and daughters. Has he apologized to the women he abused and tried to make restitution? Hardly.”
Roys added that she wished that “we evangelicals could praise our current president for what he does right, yet hold him accountable when he does wrong.”
“I think we'd maintain a lot more credibility with the public if we did that. Plus, I think that's what Jesus would do. I can't see Him giving blanket support to any candidate,” Roys added.