While millions of Americans are packing up shoebox gifts to be distributed by his faith-based nonprofit, Franklin Graham is using social media to deny the results of the presidential election and warn his followers of the coming “godless, secular agenda” of a Biden administration.
Graham, the son of legendary Christian evangelist Billy Graham, leads Samaritan’s Purse, a global ministry that sponsors Operation Christmas Child. That annual program asks individuals and families to pack of shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts that are in turn flown all over the world and distributed through affiliated ministry partners. The program is adored by many for its reach and criticized by others as a kind of toxic charity.
But more than that, Graham himself has become a flashpoint of either adoration or consternation because of his frequent and vocal defense of President Donald Trump and conservative political causes.
The partisan post attracted 26,000 comments and 57,000 “shares” on Facebook in three days.
His latest Facebook post, published Nov. 28, came at the end of Operation Christmas Child’s national drop-off week, when participants are asked to deliver their shoebox gifts to 4,000 locations across the United States. The partisan post attracted 26,000 comments and 57,000 “shares” on Facebook in three days.
In it, Graham shared a link to a Christian Post article warning that, in his words, “LGBTQ activists within the Democratic Party are pushing their godless, secular agenda with a potential Biden Administration.” The Christian Post is a conservative evangelical online publication.
Of these “godless” Democrats, Graham warned: “If you don’t conform to their ideology, agree with their sinful beliefs, teach what they say is right, they want to close you down. They will pressure and bully politicians to get their way. It is extremely dangerous if they are permitted to proceed unchecked.”
Specifically, Graham alerted his followers that the “potential” Biden administration wants to “go after the accreditation of Christian colleges, then Christian ministries and churches next, to strip them of tax-exempt status and try to force them to operate under policies that go against biblical teaching.”
“The presidential election isn’t finalized yet, but this shows why who we vote for is so important.”
Writing days after the formal presidential transition process had begun, Graham said: “The presidential election isn’t finalized yet, but this shows why who we vote for is so important. We’ve had four years of an administration under President Donald J. Trump that staunchly defends religious freedom, freedom of speech, and the church.”
Graham’s Facebook post appeared in his timeline adjacent to glowing reports on Operation Christmas Child and praise of Trump for pardoning Michael Flynn, who had been convicted of lying to the FBI about Russia’s role in trying to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Participants in Operation Christmas Child are asked to include with their shoeboxes cash gifts of $9 to help with shipping and delivery costs. If $9 is successfully collected for each of the 11 million shoebox gifts expected to be donated this year, that would create nearly $100 million in revenue for Samaritan’s Purse.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last year that Graham draws a $622,000 annual salary from Samaritan’s Purse. Another research site on nonprofit organizations reports Graham’s compensation to be even higher, $713,000 — and that Graham is one of 57 employees in the organization paid more than $100,000 annually.
Several years ago, Samaritan’s Purse applied for and received a change in its IRS tax-exempt status. Previously it was a nonprofit charity required to file public reports, including top compensation. Now it is classified by the IRS as a church and not required to report compensation.
The organization’s 2018 IRS Form 990 reported income of nearly $700 million and expenses of $672 million.