Pastor Steve Hickey brought to my attention comments made in January by Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of departed preacher Billy Graham, concerning America’s moral decay and its just desserts:
“When you sin and you refuse to repent, God backs away,” says Anne Graham Lotz, whose book The Daniel Prayer encourages desperate, fervent prayer for personal and corporate revival. “You don’t repent and you continue to sin and you become defiant, and He backs away further until in the end, God just turns you over to yourself.
“That’s where America is today. Look at the end of Romans 1. He’s just backed away from us, turned us over to ourselves. As they say, ‘America, how’s that working for you?’”
Lotz told Decision Magazine it seems that God is trying to rouse humanity’s attention through the exhausting run of natural disasters, violence and even the natural phenomenon of the total solar eclipse last August that made a path across the entire continental United States—a phenomenon that some Jewish rabbis considered a divine warning to a secular nation.
Lotz says she believes severe judgment is coming and has partly begun. “And I’m talking about something like a nuclear strike, an earthquake that splits us in two, an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack that devastates our electrical grid. Something major that would be a game-changer for America, because we are so defiant and rebellious and idolatrous and immoral, and we know better” [Jerry Pierce, “The Shadow of Sin Is Spreading: ‘If There Is Any Hope for America, It Is with the Church’,” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: Decision Magazine, 2018.01.15].
Translation: if an enemy nukes the U.S., we have brought it on ourselves. We deserve it. Pass the Bible and the potassium iodide.
Several years ago, Barack Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, similarly suggested that America deserved God’s condemnation:
An ABC News review of dozens of Rev. Wright’s sermons, offered for sale by the church, found repeated denunciations of the U.S. based on what he described as his reading of the Gospels and the treatment of black Americans.
“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people,” he said in a 2003 sermon. “God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.”
In addition to damning America, he told his congregation on the Sunday after Sept. 11, 2001 that the United States had brought on al Qaeda’s attacks because of its own terrorism.
“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye,” Rev. Wright said in a sermon on Sept. 16, 2001.
“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost,” he told his congregation [Brian Ross and Rehab El-Buri, “Obama’s Pastor: God Damn America, U.S. to Blame for 9/11,” ABC News, 2008.03.13].
Wright said the same thing as Lotz: America has behaved disagreeably in the eyes of the Lord, so earthly suffering wrought on America by earthly actors is divine justice.
Fifteen years ago, on the eve of the second Bush invasion of Iraq, my friend and District 8 Representative Gerald Lange offered a resolution to the South Dakota Legislature acknowledging the threat Iraq posed to world peace but urging the President and Congress to stick with containment instead of pursuing a pre-emptive strike that could provoke “increased terrorism… and long-term ‘blow-back’.” In response to a challenging hypothetical question from Rep. Larry Rhoden about whether he would go back to July 2001 and pre-emptively strike “the al-Qaeda” to prevent the September 11 terrorist attacks, Air Force veteran Rep. Lange offered a typically philosophical and Christian response:
You have to take a little history. What did we do to make the al-Qaeda? What kind of actions have led up to this?
And so to take a point in history and say what would you decide to do, you know, would you decide to drop the atomic bomb if you knew it would shorten the war, questions like that are incredibly difficult for somebody who’s been in the military and understands what happens when people take violent action against each other.
I would absorb the punishment in the true Christian fashion and then seek justice by arresting people like we arrested this Khalid the other day and going after them with an international law perspective. All of what brought this on is not just now. This is a history of antagonism toward the Muslims and our involvement in the Middle East with oil, our involvement in the Middle East defending Israel, and sometimes unfairly, and inviting the hatred of people which seems totally out of order. Why would they hate us? What have we done to offend them?
So I guess the most constructive thing to do was to sit back and say, O.K., we might have sone something wrong in the past to invite this kind of attack. If you can figure out what you did wrong to invite that kind of attack, then you have to go on from there and figure out is there a new course of action that would disarm these people voluntarily?
Now maybe there’s so much Satanism in the world that you can’t do anything but counteract the Satanism with more Satanism, in other words, violence with violence. But I can’t see that as leading to any constructive conclusion, do you? [Rep. Gerry Lange, response to question from House State Affairs, hearing on HCR 1018, 2003.03.05; transcribed from SDPB audio, timestamp ~29:30]
Lange didn’t go as far as Lotz and Wright and claim divine justice; he just spoke to the practical and moral truth, agreed to by people like Republican legislator Stace Nelson, that violence begets violence. But all three speakers offer the same fundamental warning: sometimes America takes bad actions that provoke bad consequences.
For his comments, liberal Democrat Gerry Lange incurred the wrath of South Dakota Republican propagandists who portrayed Lange’s peaceful Christian discourse on history and foreign policy as cause for nausea, shock, and horror and branded Lange “an apologist for terrorists.”
For his comments, black pastor Wright incurred the wrath of national Republicans who derided Wright as an unpatriotic radical and lured primary candidate Hillary Clinton into political haymaking. Even primary candidate Obama felt it necessary to disavow the statements and the man who officiated at his wedding and baptized his daughters.
For her comments, white favorite of the power elite Anne Graham Lotz gets no blowback and remains a welcome guest at the White House.
The prophetic voice always provokes blowback. But some prophetic voices provoke more blowback than others.