Frankfort—An estimated 5,800 people gathered on the Kentucky’s capitol lawn on Wednesday, May 4, to pray together and hear Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and president of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
“Let’s take a stand and let’s fight back by getting Christian men and women at every level (of government),” Graham encouraged the crowd, who battled the rain to show their support.
The rally in Frankfort, part of Graham’s “Decision America” tour 2016, was his 21st stop on a tour of all 50 states.
“We need Christian men and women in the statehouse. We need them in the mayor’s office, we need them across this great commonwealth,” Graham continued. “We need Christians on the school boards, Christian men and women. They decide the curriculum; they decide the books our students read.”
Graham urged Christians to pray, vote and engage in politics. “I’m running a campaign for God,” he asserted.
“Getting more believers actively involved in the public square is an excellent way to be salt to our culture,” Rick Hardison, chairperson of the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Committee on Public Affairs and pastor of Great Crossings Baptist Church in Georgetown, said.
“Getting Christians elected will never usher in the kingdom or lead to revival,” Hardison noted, “but it can slow the decay of culture and mitigate the effects of sin.”
Graham expressed “zero hope” in either the Republican or Democratic parties, stressing the need for Christians in leadership roles.
He did, however, offer praise to Gov. Matt Bevin and Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, saying, “These are good people. They love God.”
Mike Harmon, Kentucky auditor of public accounts and member of Junction City First Baptist Church, attended the event “because I’m a Christian, and I think it’s important for Christians to become involved.”
Harmon mentioned how he has bathed each decision to run for office in prayer, and how he feels that the Lord has blessed him in his position as auditor. “I just felt like we needed to be here today to encourage other Christians to step forward and run for office,” he said.
“Ultimately, as Graham emphasized, salvation will not come to America through Congress but through the cross,” said Kyle McDanell, pastor of East Frankfort Baptist Church.
“If America is going to turn around it will come through the grace of Christ, which will manifest itself politically. But the gospel must come first,” McDanell said.
“You might have to go to the polls and hold your nose,” Graham said, emphasizing that a Christian may have to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”
“Christians need to vote!” Hardison echoed.
However, he added, “Graham emphasized that in a big way, even though I’m not sure I agree with his perspective that we must vote for the ‘lesser of two evils.’ Many will agree with Graham. But sometimes both options are so bad that a believer may rightly feel led to vote for neither or to write in a different candidate.”
Hardison’s stance on writing in a candidate if one feels the other options are immoral has been expressed by other prominent Southern Baptists, including Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
In addition to presenting the gospel to the crowd, Graham asked each person present to consider signing a pledge to “honor God, pray, vote and engage.” (For the text of the pledge, go to decisionamericatour.com/pledge.)
“I love to see anyone, especially of Franklin Graham’s stature, who will unequivocally stand up for righteousness, for the truth of the Word of God and for the gospel. He did all of that today,” said Hershael York, professor of Christian preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and pastor at Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort.
York continued, “He was very direct in his comments about what’s going on in our world. What a wonderful and clear presentation of the gospel and pointing people to the salvation that we have in Jesus Christ!
“The gospel is always good, and Franklin Graham really focused it on the gospel,” he added.
The tour will continue with stops in Missouri, Nebraska and North and South Dakota throughout the month of May and many more stops through October. (WR)