Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot
—”Just As I Am” by Charlotte Elliott
y mom and dad would never, and I mean never, miss the broadcast of a Billy Graham Crusade—yes, that’s what he called his travelling evangelical show, despite the historical shame attached to that term—and many times, as a kid and as an adult, I listened to his warnings that Jesus was coming soon and folks had better get saved or else hell awaited.
The strains of “Just As I Am,” that beautifully written old hymn, still bounce around in my head, as does the sight of all those scared sinners ambling down to meet Jesus, or, more realistically, to meet the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Of course, my Democratic parents probably didn’t know much, if anything, about Billy Graham’s politics. He is said to have admitted to being a “lifelong Democrat,” but I have found exactly no evidence to back that up and much to contradict it.
But he did say in 1980:
The clergy ought to stay out of politics and let the laymen handle it…My candidate is Jesus Christ.
Well, by the time 2000 rolled around, Graham was flirting around with another candidate, George W. Bush, who didn’t much resemble Jesus in any way I could see, but nevertheless had Graham’s sly endorsement.
Now we hear that the old evangelical preacher has embraced another Republican candidate, one who apparently does resemble Jesus, at least GOP Jesus, the savior of Holy Vulture Capitalism, the kind who feasts on working-class carcasses.
It appears that Billy Graham has had a come-to-Mitt moment.
And his endorsement of Romney—his open-mouthed evangelical kiss—comes despite the fact that Billy Graham used to want us to believe that Mormons, just like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists, are not Christians:
Scrubbed away. Gone. Forgettaboutit. Nothing to see here.
Without any hesitation or ambiguity, when I was a conservative evangelical Christian, and studying to be a minister of that brand of gospel, I was taught that Mormonism was most definitely a cult, just as Billy Graham claimed. There simply wasn’t any question about it, and given the doctrines that conservative evangelicals hold, including those related to the nature of God, Jesus, and man, and the central role the Bible plays in defining Christianity for them, it is impossible to believe that one can be a practicing, true-believing Mormon and also be a Christian in the evangelical sense.
And if Mitt Romney is anything, we definitely know he is a practicing, true-believing Mormon.
But politics, particularly in the age of Obama, makes people do strange things, like betraying the rudiments of their rudimentary faith in order to make sure the White’s House is safe and secure once again, even if it means putting a cultist in charge. Strange things like scrubbing away a doctrinal dispute that was once so important that eternal salvation depended on knowing that Mormonism would lead you straight to hell because it was a cult.
All of this strange and disgusting stuff leaves me with one positive benefit. Should an enterprising evangelical ever come to my door again, offering me a chance to meet Jesus, or confront me on the street with a pamphlet or a Bible, telling me I will suffer eternal damnation unless I repent, I will ask one simple question:
Did you vote for Mitt Romney?
Yes? Then go straight to hell you pious fraud.