DES MOINES, Iowa (Christian Examiner) – Evangelist Franklin Graham launched his 50-state "Decision America" tour last week, telling more than 2,500 people in Iowa's capital that America will fall if God's people don't take a stand for righteousness.
"Our country is in trouble, but we've got a great God," Graham told the crowd gathered in front of the capitol building on a cold winter day.
Using the story of Nehemiah as a reference to America, Graham added, "The moral and political walls of our nation are crumbling. ... [God] can rebuild those walls. He can rehang those gates. But it's going to take the people of God praying and using your God-given right to vote. ... If we don't, this country's not going to stand much longer."
Graham has pledged to visit every state in the coming months leading up to the election, emphasizing that the rallies are spiritual, not political, in nature. The DecisionAmericaTour.com website says Graham is challenging Christians "to live out their faith at home, in public and at the ballot box," and he did just that throughout the first rally. He also, as promised, shared the Gospel.
People wanting to hear his thoughts on specific candidates likely left disappointed, although Graham did give guidance when he encouraged the crowd to "vote for candidates that stand for biblical truth and biblical principles and that are willing to live them." He later added, "Let's elect men and women to office who will lead this nation back to really being one nation under God that can truthfully say, once again, 'in God we trust.'"
But he made clear he does not identity with any political party.
"No political party is going to be able to turn this around," Graham said. "I have no hope in the Democratic Party. I have zero hope in the Republican Party. I have no hope in the Tea Party or any other party. My only hope is in almighty God and His Son, Jesus Christ."
Graham referenced several specific issues, including his fear that the country is "going backwards" on the issue of race relations. He also mentioned abortion, same-sex marriage, and the problem of sex and violence in entertainment. Secularists, he added, are "wanting ... to take God out of society."
"We have sinned greatly against almighty God," he said.
At three different moments during the rally, Graham – borrowing from Nehemiah's famous prayer -- asked those in attendance to pause and pray, confessing the sins of the nation and their families, as well as their own personal sins.
"Our moral walls and gates are down," Graham said. "Any type of wicked thought and activity can come and go. And our educators and our politicians and our churches seem many times to be more concerned with political correctness than God's truth and His righteousness."
Graham also addressed critics who claim his famous father, Billy Graham, would not be taking the stands that he takes. The younger Graham disagreed with the critics, saying that if his 97-year-old father were his age, the elder Graham would be making identical statements.
"When my father went to school, the Ten Commandments were on the wall of the school," Franklin Graham said. "Kids, whether they believed it or not, they had a standard and knew what was right and wrong."
America, Graham added, "is being stripped of this biblical heritage and God-inspired foundation."
He urged Christians to run for office, beginning at the local level. He also encouraged Christians to pray.
"The most important thing we can do as Christians ... is pray," he said. "God hears prayer and God answers prayer."
For more information, visit DecisionAmericaTour.com.