Franklin Graham Prefers That Institutionalized Children Remain Institutionalized, Which Is Weird
A few weeks ago, I wrote about this commercial:
Two women learn sign language as they approach the day that they’ll adopt their deaf daughter. It gets me up every time I watch it – even this last time as I embedded the link – despite the fact that it is plainly designed to manipulate me into positive feelings about Wells Fargo. I know better but it doesn’t seem to matter; two parents plus happy child equals this author’s moist eyes.
At the time, I was remarking on how groundbreaking I found this commercial’s routine inclusion in professional basketball telecasts. I was going for a sort of, “Woah, times sure have changed. And that’s great!” sort of vibe.
Franklin Graham, the son of Christian Industry Billy Graham, has apparently been having the same reaction to it. Well, half the same reaction to it. Specifically, he’s really got the “Woah, times sure have changed!” part down pat, but rather than concluding, “And that’s great!” he’s taken a slightly different approach:
Have you ever asked yourself–how can we fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community? Every day it is something else! Tiffany’s started advertising wedding rings for gay couples. Wells Fargo bank is using a same-sex couple in their advertising. And there are more. But it has dawned on me that we don’t have to do business with them. At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are moving our accounts from Wells Fargo to another bank. And guess what—we don’t have to shop at Tiffany & Co., there are plenty of other jewelry stores. This is one way we as Christians can speak out—we have the power of choice. Let’s just stop doing business with those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards. Maybe if enough of us do this, it will get their attention. Share this if you agree.
Much merriment has been had about his chosen path of protest – he withdrew his money from gay-friendly Wells Fargo and put it into gay-friendly BB&T – and I would recommend continuing to revel in Graham’s apparent inability to find a bank that predicates its existence upon an objection to gay people. But there’s still the issue of Graham’s entirely voluntary decision to draw the societal line at a bank’s embrace of two married women adopting an child who is presumably institutionalized.
Are we really meant to conclude that Franklin Graham thinks it better for institutionalized children to remain institutionalized than for them to be raised by two women who appear to not only love another, but to have the resources necessary to share a very comfortable life with this child
Hold on answering that – let’s look at what Graham choose to write:
Have you ever asked yourself–how can we fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community?
Let’s ignore the “crammed down our throats” imagery – do the social conservatives who use this phrase understand all of the possible connotations, or are they intentionally using this imagery precisely because of one of its more obvious connotations? – and focus on the idea that “big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community” are doing anything to the people (we’ll call them Franklin Graham’s Christians) that Graham thinks are on his side.
The women in the commercial are married to one another – that doesn’t affect Franklin Graham’s Christians. The women in the commercial are learning sign language – that doesn’t affect Franklin Graham’s Christians. The women in the commercial are adopting a deaf child – that doesn’t affect Franklin Graham’s Christians. At literally no point does anything in this commercial involve Franklin Graham’s Christians. In this great big world of ours, these two women and their new daughter are over here *points to the right, toward an empty spot where the three of them can be* and Franklin Graham’s Christians are over there *points to the left, toward an empty spot where all of them can be* and at no point are they encroaching upon one another.
“Not good enough!” screams Graham.
Every day it is something else! Tiffany’s started advertising wedding rings for gay couples. Wells Fargo bank is using a same-sex couple in their advertising. And there are more.
Having already shown the Wells Fargo advertisement that’s so got Graham’s ire, let me know prepare for you emotionally for the Tiffany’s nightmare:
And in case that wasn’t convincing enough, try looking at the image again, but then immediately clicking this link. See the problem?
See it now?
Neither do I. But Graham is so incensed by what he considers to be an aggressive societal movement to cram things down his throat that he pivots toward his bonkers plan to bank at gay unfriendly institutions and to bejewel himself at gay unfriendly jewelers. And then he concludes with this:
This is one way we as Christians can speak out—we have the power of choice. Let’s just stop doing business with those who promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards
I’m not religious, so I certainly wouldn’t know, but I find it practically impossible to believe that the religious are instructed to abandon children to institutions (even though it is something that my professional background suggests happens quite often). That runs counter to what I know of religious texts, even the ones favored by Franklin Graham’s Christians. Presumably, even for those that dislike gay marriage, a child growing up in a home with loving parents is preferable to an institutionalized alternative. But again, I’m not religious, and all I’ve got to go on is what Graham has chosen voluntarily to write, and in it he certainly seems to think that welcoming a child into your home runs counter to “Almighty God’s laws and His standards” which would certainly seem to suggest that he’s prefers that this girl remain institutionalized, potentially for the entirety of her childhood. He also thinks that companies celebrating such an adoption are guilty of promoting sin, and not only that, but those companies should be opposed for doing so.
So, in summation, we have a religious man taking the position that adoptions which do not in any way affect his life are in fact attacks against him, and that such adoptions are bad, and that children are better off being institutionalized than they are growing up in homes where they are loved.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s me. I’m the one getting misty-eyed at plainly manipulative commercials (damn you effective piano soundtrack!) after all. Maybe Franklin Graham doesn’t believe any of this. But it is what he chose to write and it is the message he chose to send and that’s a weird thing for him to have done.
Still, instead of focusing on our differences, perhaps it makes more sense for me to celebrate what Franklin Graham and I share: that we both get extremely choked up watching this beautiful commercial.
(Image borrowed from the Huffington Post.)