Evangelist Franklin Graham announced a “special day of prayer” to ask God to protect President Donald Trump from his political foes.
“If [Trump] succeeds, we all benefit,” Graham proclaimed in a video posted to social media. “But if his enemies are allowed to destroy him, and pull down the presidency, it will hurt our entire nation.”
The announcement comes as congressional Democrats debate whether to pursue impeachment proceedings against Trump for obstructing justice in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and other matters.
The “Special Day of Prayer for the President” event will take place at participating churches next Sunday.
A statement announcing the event was posted to the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which is led by Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham and also the president of Samaritan’s Purse.
The statement reads:
“We the undersigned are calling for June 2 to be a special Day of Prayer for the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, that God would protect, strengthen, embolden, and direct him.
“We believe our nation is at a crossroads, at a dangerous precipice. The only one who can fix our country’s problems is God Himself, and we pray that God will bless our president and our nation for His glory.”
The statement includes a number of prominent signers, such as former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann; Gary Bauer, president of American Values; David Barton, president of Wallbuilders; Trump spiritual adviser Pastor Paula White-Cain; Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries; Dr. James and Shirley Dobson of the James Dobson Family Institute; Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University; Pastor Jentezen Franklin, former Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Pastor Robert Jeffress; Southern Evangelical Seminary President Richard Land; Pastor Greg Laurie; author and public speaker Eric Metaxas; Penny Young Nance, president of Concerned Women for America; Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council; Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Christian music artist Michael W. Smith.
In a message posted to Facebook, Graham added, “President Trump’s enemies continue to try everything to destroy him, his family, and the presidency. In the history of our country, no president has been attacked as he has. I believe the only hope for him, and this nation, is God.
“This is a critical time for America. We’re on the edge of a precipice. Time is short. We need to pray for God to intervene. We need to ask God to protect, strengthen, encourage, and guide the President.”
Graham also quoted 1 Timothy 2:2-3.
“The Bible instructs us to pray for those in authority, ‘that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,’” Graham wrote.
Christian author Lance Wallnau, one of the signers of the statement, announced he was participating in the June 2 prayer event in order to defeat liberals.
“For your sake, for your children the Left must be defeated everyplace every time or we will see the reverse of every gain. Join Franklin Graham, Paula White, me and 250 other friends of Trump on June 2, to PRAY!” he wrote in a retweet of Trump decrying a recent court decision regarding wall construction on the southern border.
Earlier this month, Wallnau was selling a $45 “Trump coin” on the “Jim Bakker Show.” Purchasers of the coin would have a “point of contact” with God, he claimed. The coin shows Trump alongside King Cyrus from the Old Testament. Trump has been compared to Cyrus among certain evangelical Trump supporters.
Alan Cross, a Southern Baptist pastor and prominent critic of Trump’s immigration policies, first tweeted support for the event.
“Good. The Bible says we should pray for our leaders. We should do this daily, but a special Sunday of prayer is good too,” he tweeted in part, also noting that Graham had called for prayers for President Barack Obama.
But after seeing Graham’s video, he changed his mind.
After tweeting a shorthand for “never mind,” he wrote, “This shows Graham’s intention as political. I assumed it was, but I thought, you know, a call for prayer is a good thing. I’ll join. But, Graham reveals that he wants us to pray for Trump’s success and protection from political enemies. I disagree.
“Our prayer should be that Trump conforms to the character and will of God in how he lives and governs, that he repent, and that he comes to know Christ. That he love people and deal justly with people and that he love and pray for his enemies.
“This could have been good and I wanted to give benefit of doubt on this [because] my soul needed to. But, you dig a little deeper and you see that this is being used by some (Graham) as a partisan political move attached to a call for prayer. I DO NOT ascribe this to all signers.”
Brian Zahnd, pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, also criticized Graham, arguing he is using a prayer event for partisan political purposes.
“I will pray for the President like the early Christians prayed for the Emperor. I won’t pray for the President as a public display of the church bestowing political support, which is what Franklin Graham is up to,” he wrote.
Warren Throckmorton, an evangelical Christian and professor of psychology at Grove City College, wondered why the signers of the statement have pledged to pray for Trump but not congressional leaders.
“Nothing in the call to prayer calls Trump to repentance for his many lies, for his support for ruthless dictators around the world, for his obstructions of reasonable Congressional oversight, or for the authorization of cruel treatment of asylum seekers at the border. The Scripture used by Franklin Graham as foundation for the event calls on Christians to pray for kings and those in authority. In our system, that does include the president but it also includes Congress. The House Democrats are trying to exercise oversight but are being thwarted by Trump and his supporters,” he wrote in a blog post.