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Should we all just boycott Franklin Graham?

Franklin Graham has called on Christians to pull their money out of Wells Fargo.
Franklin Graham has called on Christians to pull their money out of Wells Fargo. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

Maybe we should boycott Franklin Graham.

Not just Franklin Graham, but Samaritan’s Purse, the organization he leads. Maybe even the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the other organization he leads.

A big, public boycott. It’s tempting, isn’t it?

That’s what Franklin, son of Billy, is doing. He called on Christians this week to boycott Wells Fargo bank because it committed the sin of running a touching TV ad about a lesbian couple and their young daughter.

Franklin put his money behind his outrage. He’s pulling from Wells Fargo all the accounts from Samartian’s Purse and the BGEA. He said all Christians should do the same. “Let’s just stop doing business with those who promote sin,” he said.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe we should join to withhold our money from companies that sponsor or support his ministries, because that’s essentially sponsoring Franklin Graham.

And Franklin, of course, supports laws that discriminate against gays. He also has applauded Vladimir Putin for Russia’s crackdown on homosexuals, which has included arrests for things as simple as holding a sign saying “I am gay.” That’s apparently less troubling to Graham than the “homosexual agenda.”

So let’s just stop doing business with those who promote discrimination and the mistreatment of others. Get their attention, as Franklin says.

Of course, boycotts are hard work.

When you start taking public, moral stands with your dollars, you also need to start examining all the places you do business. If not, you might find yourself morally out of sorts over a Wells Fargo commercial featuring lesbians, but posting that outrage on Facebook, a very public supporter of gay marriage. And then you look silly.

You also need to catalogue that outrage of yours. You don’t want to get loudly righteous about something someone did, but ignore other bad things. Otherwise, you might find yourself declaring a call to action because of a Wells Fargo commercial on gays, but being fine with the bank back when it got caught targeting blacks and Latinos with predatory loans.

Then you look worse than silly.

Now, no one expects Franklin Graham to embrace homosexuality. His biblical view is never going to allow for that. But his Bible, if it’s like yours and mine, is far less concerned about gays than he is. Jesus doesn’t mention homosexuality, and it doesn’t even rise to the level of a commandment. Yet Franklin seems to spend a lot more time on it than all of those sins that came down the mountain with Moses.

Maybe it has something to do with something other than outrage. Maybe this is the modern day version of the evangelist’s passing of the offering plate. You don’t need a TV show any more. You just bash the gays on social media, and the money comes flowing in.

So maybe we should do a little bashing, too, economically.

Except there’s another problem with these big, public boycotts: You start involving people, financially and otherwise, who aren’t really a part of the culture war you’ve declared. Employees, for example.

Boycotts don’t bother themselves with such nuances.

They don’t acknowledge that good people – even faithful people – can disagree on exactly what that faith means.

They don’t acknowledge that we’re more than one-dimensional – that Wells Fargo and Samaritan’s Purse, for example, both support very similar worthy causes. For that matter, so does Disney, which is pro-gay, and Chick Fil-A, which is not. Both have been subject to public boycotts, too.

Yes, each of us should spend our money in the way that makes us feel best about our world. What that world doesn’t need, though, is another vehicle to shout and point and declare someone is something we’re not – too liberal or conservative or bigoted or immoral.

It can seem like a satisfying thing, because publicly declaring someone as lesser is really about declaring yourself as something more.

It’s something Franklin Graham got good at a long time ago.

Do we really want to join him?

Peter: pstonge@charlotteobserver.com; @saintorange

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