Christians “are locked in a fierce conflict with liberal, immoral forces who despise Christianity” and this became abundantly clear when Indiana was attacked for passing its Religious Freedom Restoration Act and lawmakers quickly retreated, bowing “at the feet of godless powers” and surrendering to the “intolerant, sexually immoral agenda of gays and lesbians,” said Reverend Franklin Graham.
“Make no mistake: This is a watershed moment in the battle for the moral soul of our nation,” said Rev. Graham in his column for the May issue of Decision magazine. “Media, government and business all aligned their influence to override the initial legislation and severely weaken genuine protections for people of faith.”
“The elected representatives and governor of Indiana bowed at the feet of godless powers and chose to protect sexual orientation rather than religious conscience,” said Rev. Graham. “They cravenly surrendered to the intolerant, sexually immoral agenda of gays and lesbians, and they left at great risk any business or individual that wants to live by an informed, biblical conscience.”
The RFRA is essentially designed to prevent the government from substantially “burdening” someone’s religious belief unless there is compelling government interest to do so. Indiana’s law passed the Senate there 40 to 10 and Gov. Mike Pence (R ) signed it into law on March 26. Although nearly half the states have similar laws, gay and lesbian activists protested vehemently and wealthy, influential homosexuals, such as Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook also objected.
Looking at the pro-homosexual opposition to Indiana’s Religious Freedom law, Rev. Graham said, “[W]ithin hours of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s signing, a firestorm of national criticism, disparagement and condemnation enveloped the legislation, sending an unmistakable signal that Christians are locked in a fierce conflict with liberal, immoral forces who despise Christianity, its teaching and its followers.”
“The mainstream liberal media, which actively promotes the LGBT agenda, declared the legislation was anti-gay and discriminatory, despite assurances from Gov. Pence that the law was not discriminatory and was strictly meant to protect the ordinary religious freedoms of Hoosiers,” said the reverend, who is the son of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham.
“The unrelenting national outcry from the LGBT community was so clamorous and belligerent that within a week the state of Indiana capitulated to the opposition and inserted language into a new bill with comprehensive protection for people of any sexual orientation or gender,” said Rev. Graham. “A bill originally crafted to defend the basic religious liberties of Hoosier citizens and businesses was completely altered to placate the powerful cultural agenda of the LGBT lobby.”
The changes to the law were explicitly written to provide protections to homosexuals that critics said were necessary. Governor Pence also signed those changes into law on Apr. 2.
That action, said Rev. Graham, weakened religious freedom and showed how government and business “bowed at the feet of godless powers” and surrendered to the “intolerant, sexually immoral agenda of gays and lesbians.”
“This is a sizeable, dangerous tear in the moral fabric of America,” continued Rev. Graham. “A conservative Midwestern state was intimidated and cowed into changing legislation that now threatens the very kind of religious freedom that has built and held this nation together for hundreds of years.”
What happened in Indiana “reveals the dramatic shift in moral values that has taken place in our nation in a very short time,” said the reverend. “A once slow and steady drift toward a godless cultural ideology has quickly become a swift current of immorality, decadence and increasing opposition to religious thought and practice.”
By 2010, there were 31 states that had passed constitutional amendments seeking to ban gay marriage, said Rev. Graham, but nearly all of those were overturned by federal judges and now the issue is before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The goal, he said, is to eliminate Judeo-Christianity from the public square and force faithful, orthodox Christians and Jews to not object to that which violates their faith or, if they do, to be punished.
“We have not yet experienced the level of actual physical persecution and violence that followers of Christ endure in other parts of the world, but I certainly believe that Christians will increasingly be forced to choose between rendering obedience to God or Caesar,” said Rev. Graham.
“We may face the threat of fines—like the Christian florist in the state of Washington who refused to provide services for a gay wedding and is now in danger of losing her business and home,” he said. “Standing firm on our biblical convictions could one day even lead to incarceration.”
“I don’t think there is any doubt that our country has forgotten and forsaken God,” said Rev. Graham. “We reject the authority of His Word. We refuse to love the truth, and instead we pursue evil. We prefer the deeds of darkness over light.”
Despite the dour situation, Rev. Graham reminded people to recall the trials faced by Christ Himself and urged Christians “to stand for godliness” and to speak out at home, at work, and in public venues. “Christians still can be salt and light,” he said.
Franklin Graham, 62, is married and has five children. In addition to running the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Franklin Graham is the president of the international Christian relief group Samaritan’s Purse.