Evangelist Franklin Graham suggested the resistance President Donald Trump has faced since taking office could be “demonic” in origin.
Graham made the assertion while appearing as a guest on “The Eric Metaxas Radio Show” in a segment posted online on Thursday.
“It’s a very bizarre situation to be living in a country where some people seem to exist to undermine the president of the United States,” Metaxas said. “It’s just a bizarre time for most Americans.”
“Well, I believe it’s almost a demonic power that is trying–” Graham began to respond when Metaxas interjected, “I would disagree.”
“It’s not almost demonic. You know and I know that at the heart it’s a spiritual battle,” the talk show host said.
Graham went on to list some of the positive things currently happening in the United States, seeming to suggest, based on the facts alone, that Trump shouldn’t be facing such hostility.
“If you look at what the president has done, just for our country, regardless of whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, the unemployment is at the lowest in 70 years,” Graham said.
“More African-Americans are working, more Latinos are working, more Asians are working, more everybody is working. We have an economy that is just screaming forward. It’s incredible,” he added.
Metaxas agreed, saying the U.S. economy was “dead in the water” before Trump was elected. “That’s a fact. That’s not our opinion.”
Graham explained how the church and the cause of advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ benefit when people are working and able to tithe and help fund mission work around the world.
“All of this is because Donald Trump said he was going to turn things around and make America great again,” the evangelist said, arguing Trump the businessman was just what the country needed.
Responding to Graham, Metaxas undercut the notion that Trump does not deserve support because he’s not Christian enough.
“It’s just a fascinating thing because people seem to devolve to a kind of moralistic Pharisaism,” the bestselling author said.
“Then they go on to cite how he’s the least Christian, and they go on and on and on,” Metaxas said. “And I think these people don’t even have a biblical view when it comes to that. If somebody doesn’t hold to our theology, that doesn’t mean they can’t be a great pilot, or a great doctor or dentist.”
Graham, who prayed at Trump’s inaugural ceremony in January 2017, responded, “I believe that Donald Trump believes in God. He believes in Jesus Christ.”
The Christian leader then suggested that the president’s theological understanding may not be too deep, saying Trump did not get “a whole lot of teaching” while living in New York City.
“He knows there’s two testaments, right?” Metaxas joked.
Graham and Metaxas received some blowback from media personalities for stating that Trump is facing demonic opposition.
Conservative blogger Erick Erickson — who was among the Never Trump ranks in 2016, but has stated he will vote for the president in 2020 — tweeted on Saturday, “If your Christianity requires a President to protect you and those who oppose that President are demonic, you aren’t actually practicing Christianity. You’re worshiping idols.”
No one called the people opposing Trump “demonic”. There can be spiritual forces involved w/o the people themselves being “demonic”! And you can like a prez w/o agreeing w/everything he ever said or did. That’s hardly “worshiping” him as an idol.This is getting icky. #chillpill
— Eric Metaxas (@ericmetaxas) November 24, 2019
Metaxas responded, “No one called the people opposing Trump ‘demonic’. There can be spiritual forces involved w/o the people themselves being ‘demonic’! And you can like a prez w/o agreeing w/everything he ever said or did. That’s hardly ‘worshiping’ him as an idol. This is getting icky. #chillpill.”
In a piece for The Atlantic, Peter Wehner, a senior fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, berated Metaxas and Graham as “theologically distorted and confused.”
“Just ask yourself where this game ends. Do demonic powers explain opposition to all politicians supported by Graham and Metaxas, or to Trump alone? Would they argue that all Christians (and non-Christians) who oppose Trump are under the influence of Satan?” Wehner asked.
Perhaps in response to the whole controversy, Graham tweeted a well-known scriptural passage regarding the spiritual battle Christians face.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13)
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) November 26, 2019
“‘Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.’ (Ephesians 6:13),” Graham wrote.
In an interview with The Western Journal this summer, Graham gave Trump high marks for his handling of the presidency to date.
“I think he has honored his commitments to the faith-based community,” Graham said. “He is pro-life, [the] first president really in my lifetime that has been this vocal about life. I certainly appreciate that about him.”
“He’s fulfilled his promise as it relates to conservative judges,” he said. “He’s put two Supreme Court justices so far on the bench that are conservative. He’s appointed a number at lower courts.”
The Christian leader also cited Trump’s economic record and destruction of the ISIS caliphate.
“All this he has done without a fully supportive Republican majority. He, of course, has been able to do it with the relentless attacks of the Democrats,” Graham said. “He may go down in history as one of the best presidents we’ve had.”
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