The Freedom From Religion Foundation is going after Billy Graham because the well respected evangelist encouraged Christians to “vote biblical values.” The folks at the anti-freedom group see this as a violation of some mythical constitutional prohibition. The First Amendment is clear: “Congress shall make no law” prohibiting people from exercising their religious beliefs by profession (speech), press, assembly, and petition.
The Christian religion is based on the Bible. How can the government or a government agency like the Internal Revenue Service prohibit Christians from following the tenets of their religion?
Here’s the content of the argument presented by the Freedom From Religion Foundation:
“[The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association], a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has run full-page ads publicizing Billy Graham’s call for the electorate to ‘vote biblical values,’” said FFRF in a statement last week. ‘The ads have appeared in several ‘swing state’ newspapers in preparation for . . . [the] heated presidential election. Throughout the month of October, BGEA published articles favorable to Romney, which included a statement by Billy Graham.”
Encouraging Christians to vote in terms of what the BGEA believes are “biblical values” is not an endorsement of a particular candidate or political party. In fact, a case could be made that Mitt Romney does not fit the definition of “biblical values” since he is a Mormon. Here’s a statement from Brent Rinehart of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that was provided to the Christian Post regarding the “Biblical Values” ad campaign:
“The ads intentionally do not mention any candidate, political party, or contest, urging instead for readers to cast votes for candidates-at all levels-based on their support for biblical values.”
There are lots of Christians who believe that Barack Obama represents biblical values. Many black people are Christians. Many (most) believe that Obama represents the best of biblical values. So how is what the BGEA violating its non-profit status?
Groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State believe that “issue advocacy” is an violation of IRS rules. I wonder if these two anti-Christian groups would have said the same thing when the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. were involved in “issue advocacy” and called on ministers and churches to get involved to change the political landscape.