Franklin Graham, son of televangelist Billy Graham, told Buttigieg in a Facebook post that he must repent or face “eternal damnation.”
“God’s Word defines homosexuality as sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised, or politicized,” Graham said in the post. “The Bible defines marriage as between a man and a woman—not two men, not two women. The core of the Christian faith is believing and following Jesus Christ, who God sent to be the Savior of the world—to save us from sin, to save us from hell, to save us from eternal damnation.”
The comments drew immediate criticism from both sides of the political aisle. Talk show host Joe Scarborough hit back at Graham–a staunch defender of Donald Trump–for referring to Trump as a righteous man while attacking Buttigieg for his sexuality. “Just shut up Franklin Graham,” he said on his show Morning Joe. “You are a disgrace! You are a disgrace for normalizing Donald Trump’s behavior.”
Similarly, George H. W. Bush biographer and conservative writer John Mecham lashed out at Graham for his homophobic comments. “They are extreme at this point,” he said, “given where the country is on these issues, this is no longer a mainstream view, and thankfully so. If you’re a religious believer, one of the points of God’s universe is it does reveal itself, and you are able to change and grow and react to shifting data. Reverend Graham is actually disproving that, he’s going the other way.”
Graham has attracted a number of controversies for bigotry over the years. He labeled Islam a “religion of war” and “evil” following the attacks of September 11, 2001. He also helped spread the debunked conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was a secret Muslim and had allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the United States. Graham characterized the 2011 Japanese tsunami as a harbinger of Armageddon, and has a long history of attacking LGBTQ people and their rights, and has praised Russian President Vladamir Putin for brutalizing queer people.