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Billy Graham Says You Might Die Today

<p>Billy Graham Says You Might Die Today</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="margin-left:.25in;">&nbsp;</p><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><em>&ldquo;Give me your tired, your poor, </em></p><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><em>Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,</em></p><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><em>The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.</em></p><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><em>Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,</em></p><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><em>I lift my lamp beside the golden door!&rdquo;</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>We think that the preachers of the American evangelical movement are perpetual political opponents. This is a mistake. Their</p><p>fanaticism should be understood as a dangerous phenomenon. The triumphalism of the Democrats, who believe that they will ride a wave of revulsion against Trump to victory at the polls, must stop now. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The evangelicals are canny players in the modern world, and now they have their President. The pussy-grabbing, encouragement of racist police policy, softness on neo-nazism, gunning down of school-children &ndash; every horror show seems to be the final destination of hate.&nbsp; And yet time and time again we find that we are witnessing another battle in a longer war.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>And now we have ICE.&nbsp; The hunting of immigrant families by ICE &ndash; the Immigration Customs Enforcement, is pure 1938 Germany, with Federal police stalking fathers and mothers in churches and hospitals and even pulling them out front doors of homes with children screaming, grabbing their legs.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Trump&rsquo;s father was a fan of Reverend Billy Graham, as was and is his son Franklin. On the day that Reverend Billy Graham died, I had the impulse to take the tourist boat out to Liberty Island, to the great green woman who stands with the raised torch in our New York harbor. I see the unbelievable 22 story high queen every day in the train window, but had never been to the island itself.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>What I discovered was a smashing-through of the post-card familiarity. The Statue of Liberty is a spectacular historical monument, stupendously huge, but it is also very alive.&nbsp; Lady Liberty raises her torch in mid-stride. What popped out at me was the present-tense quality of her message. It felt like she was speaking.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Lady&rsquo;s Liberty bold statement couldn&rsquo;t be more contemporary. It&rsquo;s almost like, from way up there, she can see the white vans of ICE sharking up and down the streets of the 700,000 of our New York neighbors whose papers don&rsquo;t satisfy them. Lady Liberty is the messenger of unconditional love, an astonishing thing in this day and age. Emma Lazarus&rsquo; poem is displayed&nbsp; on the lawn before her.&nbsp; &ldquo;Give me your tired your poor&hellip; Send these, the homeless&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Billy Graham&rsquo;s welcome was his famous &ldquo;altar call.&rdquo; He told his rapt audience to commit to Jesus Christ, warning them that they had better join up right away because - they could die on their way home! He said this a packed Yankee Stadium. His invitation, with its talk of Hell, should have been seen for what it was, the ancient protection racket of fundamentalism.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>To defeat such people at the polls is not enough. To meet this hate with a snarky counter-hate has not worked. The evangelicals will return in the future with even greater violence.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>There are two things we have failed to do with American evangelism.&nbsp; First, we have not admitted to ourselves the depth and danger of its violence. Hundreds of our mayors have announced that they will not cooperate with ICE, that theirs are Sanctuary Cities. But this remains rhetorical, as the average policeman in the United States will often side with ICE.&nbsp; City cops must not only refuse to work with ICE, they should protect the threatened families from invasion by militarized police.&nbsp; The sanctity of the home is a basic point in our Declaration of Independence. &nbsp;Officers should protect our homes from ICE.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>And we have to give the love.&nbsp; We don&rsquo;t even know these people. When the San Francisco Gay Chorus canceled its European tour after the Trump victory a year ago, making the decision to sing their way through the red states, they showed us the way. They sang joyously, not with threats, but with the strength of the beat and soaring harmony.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>We can construct a compelling-without-threats message that is even stronger than the mono-maniacal intensity of the evangelicals. Bring it and bring it with love. I come from these hard right folks, and I believe that they do notice the violence. Many Christians listen to Trump or Franklin Graham, and then look at ICE and the agony of those families, at the gunning down of unarmed black and brown citizens by police, at the ease with which assault rifles are purchased in our society.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Love of a fierce kind is the key to re-integrating right wing Christians into a nonviolent society.&nbsp; They must be powerfully welcomed. We will invite these people back to the United States, from within, with the open-ness of Lady Liberty.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
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