Evangelist Franklin Graham came to Olympia to urge Christians to vote. But with “zero faith” in the political parties, Graham suggested voters might have to hold their noses when they cast ballots in the presidential election.
OLYMPIA — Franklin Graham came to Washington’s Capitol to urge Christians to vote.
Whom they should vote for, however, is another matter.
In a dark suit and white shirt, looking every bit the missionary, Graham called for those gathered to help elect Christian mayors and judges — and a president.
But in Washington’s stop on his 50-state “Decision America Tour,” Graham made it clear that he has “zero faith” in either the Democratic or Republican party.
Speaking Wednesday afternoon before at least 5,000 people, Graham urged Christians to find the right candidates to support, or run for office themselves.
Graham — son of famous evangelist Billy Graham — also dwelled on the presidential race, but the names of presumptive candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton never passed his lips. Nor did Graham discuss the former’s multiple marriages and vulgar style, or the latter’s ethics troubles.
Instead, “You’re just going to have to ask yourself which of the two do you think we as Christians will at least have a voice with?” Graham told those gathered.
“You have to make that choice,” he added later. “Now, you might have to hold your nose.”
Graham stressed that he didn’t come to Olympia to tell people how to vote, because, “You can figure that out.”
To which somebody in the crowd muttered, “That’s what you think.”
Graham called out what he says are the terrible forces confronting America, including crime, racism, abortion, secularism and gay marriage.
And he led prayers: for the country, for those in the audience, for law enforcement, state workers, Lt. Gov Brad Owen and Gov. Jay Inslee.
As Graham spoke, Donald DeLateur held out his hands in prayer. Graham’s message resonated with DeLateur, who walked two blocks up to the rally from his Olympia home.
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“As a Christian, I believe we have not only a right, but an obligation to vote,” DeLateur, a 58-year-old Army veteran, said after the rally.
Describing himself as an independent who leans conservative, DeLateur wouldn’t say whom he would vote for in November. But, “As a Christian, you’re never going to find a perfect candidate,” he said.
Chug Garreau’s journey to the rally took a bit longer than DeLateur’s. Garreau drove more than 1,000 miles, from South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Reservation.
He and his wife caught Graham at the tour’s South Dakota stop, and the couple decided to tie in a visit to see family in Washington with Graham’s Olympia speech.
Garreau agreed with Graham’s call for a president to uphold the evangelists’ Christian values.
But has he decided yet who that is?
“Not yet,” said Garreau, a 59-year-old school employee and church pastor.
Garreau wasn’t the only undecided voter to grace the Decision America Tour.
When asked which presidential candidate she’ll vote for, Brandy Osborne, a 42-year-old small-business owner, said, “I’m still in prayer about that.”
For Marcia Moody, the election comes down to putting “our faith basically in God and not in who we’re voting for.”
“I have not made a decision yet,” added Moody, a 57-year-old church administrator from Lacey.
Not everyone appreciated Graham’s mix of politics and religion.
“I thought that there was political interest behind it,” said Joy Collins, a 56-year-old Olympia resident who described herself as Christian. “And that bothered me.”