Rev. Billy Graham, or rather his ministry, had a full page ad in the New York Times and other news papers around the country electioneering for god. In the ad, Graham asks people to “cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel.” Graham’s call crosses the line against churches electioneering for candidates.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation will be filing a complaint about the “coded” message:
The ad is clearly marked “Paid advertisement by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association,” a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity. Tax exempt organizations are forbidden by the IRS to engage in partisan politicking, which includes actions making clear whom tax-exempt entities want people to vote for or against.
“It was not necessary for Billy Graham to name names. One presidential candidate has come out in favor of marriage equality for gays and is pro-choice. The other rejects gay marriage and is antiabortion. Ditto for Wisconsin’s heated U.S. Senate race, between one candidate who is antiabortion and anti-gay marriage, and the other candidate who is a lesbian who supports marriage equality and abortion rights,” noted Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF Co-President.
“This is dirty pool,” she added, because taxpayers are subsidizing these ads by virtue of the fact that donations to the Graham ministry are tax-deductible, making it an “unfair political battle.”
Blue Texan at the blog Crooks and Liars makes another valid point about such ads:
Calling for people to vote for candidates who “support biblical principles” is pure sectarianism — an un-American sentiment. The Constitution expressly forbids religious tests for a reason. And the irony is, when Islamic clerics call for Sharia Law, people like Graham call them extremists, or worse.
What Graham is doing is what right-wing Christians always do. They begin with a set of right-wing values, then they selectively interpret the bible to comport to those values.
The ad is a slick attempt at violating the rules that prohibit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charities from getting directly involved in partisan politics. Graham’s ministry can place ads against abortion or gay marriage but it crosses the line when it asks people to vote a certain way.