[SLIDESHOW=42499]NASHVILLE (BP) — Christians cannot restore America by rallying behind political parties, but must pray, vote and engage in politics to uphold biblical principles, evangelist Franklin Graham told a crowd of about 8,600 gathered at noon today (May 3) in front of the Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville.
It was the largest crowd to date in his Decision American Tour 2016 with Franklin Graham — a series of sermons and prayer rallies at each capitol in the nation that began Jan. 5 in Des Moines, Iowa — and is scheduled to end Oct. 13 in Raleigh, N.C.
“Some may ask, ‘Franklin, what would your father have done?’ Well, I can tell you right now if my father were my age, and had the strength, he’d be doing exactly the same thing I believe,” said Billy Graham’s son. “My father said in 1952, I think it’s the duty of every individual Christian at election time to study the issues and the candidates and then go to the polls and vote.”
Franklin Graham, the eldest son of Billy and Ruth Graham and the president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, evoked the words of his father as still pertinent today.
“Listen up church, he said, if I were a pastor of a church, I believe I would explain to my people where each candidate stood morally, spiritually and in relationship to the church,” Graham quoted his father. “He said I feel that we’re going to have to meet our political obligations as Christians and make our voice known if America is to be preserved with the type of Christian heritage which has given us the liberty and freedom we now enjoy.
“For unless,” said Graham, quoting his father, “America turns back to God, repents of its sin and experiences spiritual revival, we will fail as a nation. And I believe God honors leaders in high places who honor Him.”
Graham led the crowd in targeted prayers of repentance for personal sins, the sins of the nation and the sins of our forefathers, and offered salvation to the lost.
He encouraged Christians to take back the country by running for public office, encouraging them to run and support Christian candidates.
“Ladies and gentlemen we need leaders in high places, we need leaders in public office who are not afraid or scared to honor almighty God,” Graham said. “America is being stripped of its biblical heritage and its God given foundations.”
Too many leaders, Graham said, are more concerned with political correctness than biblical truth, and should be willing to stand on God’s Word in the marketplace.
“It’s time for Christians to take a stand and if they want to sue, bring it on, come on, sue us. But we’re not going to shut up, we’re not going to back up, because Jesus said if they did that to me, they’re going to do that to you,” Graham said. “So He’s already warned us, so let’s just go ahead and take a bullet, right? I’m just saying we take a stand for the Lord Jesus Christ, for what He taught.”
He encouraged Christians to vote not only in the presidential election, but also in local and state races.
“Take your communities back. The devil’s got them, let’s get them back. And it could be done by the Christians, because they’re more of us than there is of them. We just cannot afford to be silent anymore,” he said. “We may not have another opportunity as a nation like this again. So you’ve got to vote.”
Graham did not endorse a candidate nor promote a political party.
The tour is scheduled to end Oct. 13 in Raleigh, N.C. Prior to Nashville, the March 31 Sacramento, Calif., stop had attracted the largest crowd, according to the BGEA, with an estimated 7,500 gathered there.
The tour’s mission, as stated on the tour website, holds that “because Jesus Christ is the only hope for America (1 Corinthians 3:11), we call our nation to God and pray for His forgiveness and blessing (2 Chronicles 7:14) and for the liberty and freedom to continue to proclaim His Name until He returns (2 Corinthians 4:5). Will you stand with us in fervent prayer for our nation?”
Americans are asked to sign a statement at decisionamericatour.com/pledge/, pledging to honor God at home, in public and with their vote, “supporting, where possible, candidates who will uphold biblical principles, including the sanctity of life and the sacredness of marriage.”
The pledge also makes a promise “to pray fervently and faithfully for America,” it said, “to be registered and to vote in every election — local, state, and federal — supporting, where possible, candidates who uphold biblical principles,” and “to engage in my community with God’s truth and prayerfully consider running for office.”
The tour site offers an opportunity at decisionamericatour.com/prayer-team/ to join prayer teams in individual states and organize community prayer teams.
“This is a powerful way you can take meaningful action, praying with passion and persistence for our pastors, our churches, our cities and state, and especially our nation — all from home, on your schedule, as God leads,” the site encourages. “You’ll receive periodic email updates and have access to your state’s prayer group on Facebook.”
The tour continues May 4 in Frankfort, Ky., May 5 in Charleston, W.Va., and May 17 in Jefferson City, Mo.