'Hold your nose and vote,' Graham tells Christians

Mark Barrett , mbarrett@citizen-times.com1:40 p.m. EDT October 15, 20161.6k 
SharesThe Rev. Franklin Graham speaks during the Decision America Tour 2016 
outside the State Capitol building in downtown Raleigh Thursday. (Photo: Ethan 
Hyman, AP)The Rev. Franklin Graham says he is not condoning Donald Trump's 
videotaped comments from 2005 but is more focused on who will fill vacancies on 
the U.S. Supreme Court."The crude comments made by Donald J. Trump more than 11 
years ago cannot be defended. But the godless progressive agenda of Barack 
Obama and Hillary Clinton likewise cannot be defended," Graham, who is based in 
Boone, said on his Facebook page Oct. 8, the day after the tape was 
released.The parade of women who have since come forward to say that Trump did 
indeed do the types of things he bragged about on the video doesn't seem to 
have changed Graham's view."A lot of people are slamming evangelicals for 
supposedly giving Donald J. Trump a pass," Graham wrote Friday. "That’s simply 
not true. No one is giving him a pass. I’m certainly not, and I’ve not met an 
evangelical yet who condones his language or inexcusable behavior from over a 
decade ago."However, he has apologized to his wife, his family, and to the 
American people for this. He has taken full responsibility. This election isn’t 
about Donald Trump’s behavior from 11 years ago or Hillary Clinton’s recent 
missing emails, lies, and false statements. This election is about the Supreme 
Court and the justices that the next president will nominate," Graham wrote.He 
also talked about the importance of the court in remarks to his 50th Decision 
America Tour prayer rally on the grounds of the state Capitol in Raleigh 
Thursday.He told the crowd of about 10,500, as estimated by police, that it is 
a Christian's duty to vote and having misgivings about candidates is no excuse. 
He is one of the country's best known conservative Christian leaders."Hold your 
nose and go vote," he said. "You have to decide which one of the two 
(presidential candidates) that you would trust to appoint justices that are 
going to protect our religious freedom as Christians."In general, Graham told 
his audience, "Vote where you can for people that are going to support Biblical 
principles."Graham has been traveling the country this year, holding similar 
rallies at each state capitol, asking Christians to pray for the United States 
and get involved in politics. He doesn't endorse political parties or 
candidates. If he did, it would jeopardize the tax-exempt status of the Billy 
Graham Evangelical Association that he heads and that is putting on the 
rallies.Instead, Graham tells audiences that neither the Democratic Party nor 
the Republican Party can save America because only God can do that. He does 
raise concerns about issues like same-sex marriage, abortion and HB2, and there 
were other hints Thursday that Graham's activities are more likely to help 
Republicans than Democrats.Graham mentioned Republican Gov. Pat McCrory 
favorably at least twice in his remarks Thursday and said the label 
"progressive ... (is) just another word for, 'I'm an atheist.' "

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