North Carolina-based evangelist Franklin Graham said Thursday he’s “outraged” at the ACC’s decision to pull games from North Carolina because of House Bill 2. And he called on pastors to join him in speaking out.
In a strongly-worded letter to ACC commissioner John D. Swofford, a copy of which was sent to the presidents of its 15 member schools, Graham called on him not to make “political pawns of student-athletes.”
He also told Swofford that the ACC, NCAA, and companies and organizations boycotting North Carolina because of the controversial law are guilty of “profound hypocrisy” for “making calculated business decisions disguised as moral outrage.”
He pointed out that Dr. Pepper (and its parent company), the corporate sponsor of the ACC football championship that had been scheduled for December in Charlotte, sells its products in countries where homosexuality is illegal.
Graham also weighed in on his Facebook post Thursday, saying North Carolina was being “bullied” by the ACC, the NCAA “and some of corporate America who are influenced by LGBT activists.”
“Our legislators are being forced to consider repealing HB2 and you, your children, and your grandchildren will be at risk to sexual predators and perverts,” Graham wrote on Facebook.
He urged pastors to join him in speaking out: “You are shepherds of the flock. Shepherds protect, speak out, and defend. Where is your voice in this issue? Let Gov. McCrory and the state legislators hear your support. Don’t let them be forced into repealing HB2.”
HB2 was passed by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory to nullify an ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council. That local measure would have extended nondiscrimination protections to LGBT persons and allowed transgender individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity. HB2 says persons must use the bathrooms of the gender on their birth certificate in government buildings.
The state and federal governments have traded lawsuits over HB2. And the ACLU and other groups also have mounted challenges against the N.C. law on constitutional grounds.
On Wednesday, Swofford announced the ACC’s decision following a meeting of its Council of Presidents, saying the council “made it clear that the core values of this league are of the utmost importance, and the opposition to any form of discrimination is paramount.”
Besides football, the other ACC championships that are being pulled out of North Carolina are women’s basketball, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s golf, men’s golf and baseball.
“On a personal note,” Swofford said in a statement earlier this week, “it’s time for (House Bill 2) to be repealed as it’s counter to basic human rights.”
HB2 has not only divided the state, but also its faith community. Liberal houses of worship that welcome LGBT persons into their flocks have strongly opposed the law, saying it runs counter to their sacred books’ call to enshrine love, embrace inclusion and stand against bigotry.
But conservative churches have just as strongly supported the law, casting it as a protection of the privacy and safety of girls and women.
In his letter to Swofford, Graham, a national leader of conservative Christians, said he believed that he reflected “the views of millions who would rather preserve gender-specific bathrooms – a mainstay for generations – than to attend a football or basketball game in my state to determine the champion of a conference governed by politically-correct, morally hypocritical academics.”
Graham, the son of Charlotte-born evangelist Billy Graham, leads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte and Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief charity based in Boone.
In this election year, he is holding prayer rallies in all 50 state capitals, urging Christians to vote in November. His final rally is set for Oct. 13 in Raleigh.