On Friday, Pastor Franklin Graham responded to the criticism of his fellow evangelical leaders who continue to stand by Donald Trump despite the business mogul's morally objectionable behavior, particularly the lewd sexual comments captured in the 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape.
Graham—who does not officially endorse political candidates in part because of the tax exempt status of his religious organization—pushed back against the idea that his evangelical peers were giving Trump "a pass" on his sexually aggressive and derogatory behavior. Trump, said Graham, "has taken full responsibility" for his 2005 comments, but his immoral behavior is not what is important anyhow. What matters, stressed the massively influential pastor, is the Supreme Court.
Graham commented on the election on multiple platforms last week, addressing the issue of the Supreme Court in a prayer rally in North Carolina on Thursday and then in a Facebook post the next day. At the 50th Decision America Tour prayer rally in Raleigh, he told a crowd of over 10,000 that despite the difficult choices presented to Christian voters this election, it was their duty to vote for the candidate who would appoint the best justices.
"Hold your nose and go vote," he told the large audience. "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. ... Vote where you can for people that are going to support Biblical principles."
Graham posted a statement on Facebook the next day defending evangelical leaders who still support the Republican nominee:
lot of people are slamming evangelicals for supposedly giving Donald J. Trump a pass. 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. Evangelicals are going to have to decide which candidate they trust to nominate men and women to the court who will defend the constitution and support religious freedoms. My prayer is that Christians will not be deceived by the liberal media about what is at stake for future generations.