Billy Graham, the dean of American evangelists, has once again broken his usual silence on hot-button issues, defending the president of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain for his opposition to same-sex marriage days after issuing a letter decrying what he sees as the nation's moral decay. ...
On Thursday, he issued a statement of support for the popular fast-food chain. Many people have slammed Chick-fil-A President Don Cathy for saying his company backs the traditional family unit and is opposed to same-sex marriage.
Graham praised restaurant founder S. Truett Cathy and son Don Cathy, the company's president, "for their strong stand for the Christian faith."
His open letter also contains a fund-raising appeal and a notice that Graham's son Franklin, himself a major evangelical figure, is launching a new effort to "bring the Gospel into neighborhoods and homes in every corner of America next year."
Randall Balmer, the chair of the religion department at Dartmouth College, suspects the motivation for the letter is at least partly political.
"It's hard for me to believe that this letter does not have political intent," he said.
Its move to decry what he would see as moral decay "would be tied to the Obama administration," he argued, asking rhetorically why Graham would not have issued the statement in response to an event like the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.
Who can helps us parse the Chick-fil-A situation? If I had ever eaten there, I'd stop eating there. But I don't know that I'd feel the need to try to drive them out of business. Although I understand the desire to make sure people knew the politics of the place. So rather than my saying five or six more equivocal things, maybe someone else would like to chime in with a strong opinion.