Monday, Feb. 07, 2005

Billy and Franklin Graham

Father and Son In the Spirit
He has had the ear of Presidents for five decades, but except for his public disavowal of racial segregation, Billy Graham, 86, has stuck to soul saving and left the political proselytizing to others. He explained his self-imposed separation of church and state in the language of a Gospel preacher: "It's not what I was called to do."

His son Franklin, 52, the anointed successor to the Graham evangelical empire, has no such reticence. "As a minister, I have every right to speak out on moral issues," he says. And he has, frequently and freely opining on subjects ranging from homosexuality ("I don't believe in the lifestyle") to the Iraq war ("I don't advocate war, but it's important to support our government"). Some suggest the difference in approach is the result of temperament and target audience. "Dr. Graham, having [ministered] to many Presidents, is more private about his counsel than Franklin, who speaks more to average Americans than their leaders," says Rod Parsley, pastor of the World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio.

"But we're thankful he's raising his voice on issues central to our faith."