Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has again parted ways from the Republican right, the Birthers and conservative cable TV and radio hosts, something the leaders of his own Baptist denomination have not done.
Asked last week at The First Draft of History conference what he thought of the Republican right that thinks President Obama was born in Indonesia and is a secret Muslim, Graham called Birthers and conspiracy theorists “crazy.”
Graham is a member of Corinth Baptist Church in Seneca, S.C., a church aligned with the Southern Baptist Convention.
A former SBC vice president, Wiley Drake, has filed a lawsuit that alleged Obama is not a natural-born citizen and is unqualified constitutionally to be president. The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard next year.
Another Southern Baptist, Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), a member of North Phoenix Baptist Church, said in August that he was considering a lawsuit against Obama over his birth certificate.
The South Carolina senator made it clear that he wants nothing to do with such efforts and attitudes.
“Here’s what the Republican Party has to do. Now, this is I think a good point. We have to say that’s crazy,” said Graham. “So, I’m here to tell you that those who think the president was born somewhere other than Hawaii are crazy. He’s not a Muslim. He’s a good man. Let’s knock this crap off and talk about the real difference we have.”
When asked about Fox News host Glenn Beck, Graham said, “Only in America can you make that much money crying…I mean, you know, what [do] I think about Rush Limbaugh? Well, I think he makes hundreds of millions of dollars being able to talk on the radio. It is what it is.”
Graham said, “Glenn Beck is not aligned with any party as far as I can tell. He’s aligned with cynicism, and there’s always been a market for cynicism. But we became a great nation not because we were a nation of cynics. We became a great nation because we were a nation of believers.”
He added, “We became a great nation because at the end of the day with our backs against the wall we held hands. And we moved forward together.”
In July, Graham parted company with the SBC over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. He said that as a judge her record “has not been radical by any means” and that she was “not an activist.”
Toward the end of his questions and comments with Sotomayor, Graham said, “You have, as a judge, been generally in the mainstream.”
Graham’s comments came two days after the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president, Richard Land, wrote in a letter: “She is out of the mainstream of the American public.”
A long-time Republican Party sponsor and a Bush administration cheerleader, Land accused Sotomayor of having an “ideologically rigid attitude toward race” and lacking “respect for private property rights.”
Unlike Land, Franks and Drake, Graham spoke a clear and much needed word about the activists who use polarizing rhetoric to demonize Obama, question his presidential qualifications and contaminate the public square with incivility.
He also countered a much earlier refrain from radio entertainer Rush Limbaugh, who said he hoped Obama would fail.
“Do I want some of his policies to fail? You better believe it. Do I want him to fail? No. Because he’s my commander-in-chief,” said Graham.
Thank goodness Graham had the moral backbone to distance himself from the extremists and cynics.
Would that more refused to be silent or bullied by the Christian right and its allies.
Regrettably, Graham stands out because he stands almost alone among Christians with conservative political principles.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.