Rev. Franklin Graham. (BGEA)
Commenting on the Black Lives Matter movement and a college student who was punished for stating "all lives matter," Rev. Franklin Graham said "free speech is under attack" and people need to know that in God's eyes "every life matters."
In an Aug. 4 post on Facebook, Rev. Graham said, “Free speech is under attack. We’ve all heard about the Black Lives Matter movement which has been associated with numerous demonstrations and calling for violence against police.”
“In Texas,” he said, “the University of Houston student body vice president [Rohini Sethi] posted on Facebook ‘Forget #BlackLivesMatter, more like #AllLivesMatter.’ The student senate punished her with a 50-day suspension from student government, and said she had to attend a ‘diversity workshop’ and three cultural events per month. On top of that, she has to complete a reflection letter and a public presentation.”
“Wow. Somebody needs to tell this student government association that their vp was right -- all lives do matter,” said Rev. Graham. “Shame on them!”
“God is the Maker and Creator of all life,” said the reverend. “He didn’t make one group more valuable than other groups or one life more valuable than another. In His eyes, every life matters. And no one should be punished for saying that.”
The sanctions against Sethi were dropped the day after Rev. Graham posted his statement, due to concerns over First Amendment rights and the process used by the student government to decide her punishment, according to the University of Houston’s student newspaper.
However, Sethi voluntarily took a three-week, unpaid leave of absence from her student government position. She will also voluntarily attend the cultural events and a diversity workshop.
“I may have had the right to post what I did, but I still should not have,” Sethi reportedly stated.
“My words at the time didn’t accurately convey my feelings and caused many students to lose their faith in me to advocate for them,” said Sethi. “I take my responsibility seriously and want to re-earn their trust.”
Franklin Graham is the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and the international Christian relief group Samaritan's Purse. He is married and has five children. His father, world-renowned preacher Billy Graham, is 97 and living at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.