Franklin Graham puts hope on God, not political parties

People attending Tuesday's Decision America Tour 2016 were urged to pray for the United States. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

People attending Tuesday’s Decision America Tour 2016 were urged to pray for the United States. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — It had the appearance of a music festival with an estimated 2,600 people crammed onto the grounds of Legislative Mall, many with arms raised to the sky and others taking pictures on their cellphones.

However, there was a different tune to the Rev. Franklin Graham’s “Decision America Tour 2016,” which made its 42nd stop in Dover on Tuesday afternoon as part of its 50-state tour.

The Rev. Franklin Graham told those gathered on Legislative Mall Tuesday that he has "zero hope" in the Democratic and Republican parties. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The Rev. Franklin Graham told those gathered on Legislative Mall Tuesday that he has “zero hope” in the Democratic and Republican parties. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Mr. Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse, implored the crowd to pray for guidance before the upcoming Nov. 8 election. He did not endorse any candidate at the rally.

He said he just wanted the people gathered at the event to pray for the United States.

“If I step on your toes please forgive me, but I have zero hope in the Democratic Party,” Mr. Graham said. “All right … before you Republicans high-five each other, I have zero hope in the Republican Party. The only hope for this nation is Almighty God.

“The most important thing that we can do here [Tuesday] is pray. God hears prayer. God answers prayer.”

Mr. Graham, son of legendary evangelical Christian preacher Billy Graham, said he is registered “Independent” when it comes to politics. He wasn’t about to apologize for his conservative beliefs during the sweltering hourlong rally.

The Decision America Tour 2016 was billed as a nonpartisan prayer rally for America. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The Decision America Tour 2016 was billed as a nonpartisan prayer rally for America. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The people gathered en masse — including busloads of churches and their members from all over the state along with several church youth groups — in anticipation of his message.

“I thought it was awesome,” said Sharon Reeder, of Hockessin. “I was really excited to be here. The biggest thing I came away with was that we all need to get out and vote.”

Mr. Graham said he thinks that people who believe in God and conservative values have felt isolated over the past several years in society, political arenas and school systems.

“I think sometimes Christians feel like they are alone,” Mr. Graham said. “To be able to gather in front of the Capitol I think is very significant.

“This is their state, not my state. This is theirs and I think they feel a little empowered when they come away from a day like this. We can make a difference.”

Dennis Agajanian got the rally started by playing a bluegrass version of the old hymn “Victory in Jesus” on his guitar and then played the Charlie Daniels’ patriotic hit from 1980 — with cleaned up lyrics, of course — “In America.”

Mr. Agajanian played a couple more songs before Mr. Graham emerged from one of the three brightly painted red, white and blue tour buses parked behind the stage.

People were urged to pray for the United States. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

People were urged to pray for the United States. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Mr. Graham read a passage of scripture from the book of Nehemiah in the Bible regarding God’s judgment against Israel because of “its sins and transgressions.”

He then said, “He will judge us as a people and judge us as a nation [like Israel]. It’s not too late for America. The most important thing we can do is pray, and do it right here in front of the state capitol.”

Mr. Graham then lead the crowd in a series of prayers as they held hands on Legislative Mall.
A prayer was offered for the country, another for people seeking God’s salvation and another for Delaware’s politicians and law enforcement officers, saying the police “are under attack.”

Mr. Graham closed by telling people that if they are not happy with the conditions in which they live they have the power to change it — by voting or running for office, whether it be state, local or even a spot on a school board.

Bill Havens, of Bear, made the trip south to hear Mr. Graham’s message.

“The most important thing to me is that we need to show support and show God our love,” he said. “It’s important to vote for candidates that actually are believers. People are starting to come out more for Jesus and stand for what they believe in.”

Mr. Graham said he believes that much of the media is ignoring his “Decision America 2016 Tour,” but he said that doesn’t bother him.

His goal is to get what he called an estimated “30 million believers” who didn’t vote in the 2012 election back to the polls.

“I had a friend who asked me if the media was covering a lot of this and I said, ‘Some of them do,’ but a big part of them try to ignore it,” he said. “Let me tell you something, when people come together to pray … God does not ignore that.

“I’m grateful to God and I give him all of the credit. These people are not coming to see me. They came here to pray. They came here to pray for their state and their country. God bless Delaware.”

Delaware was the 42nd stop of the 50-state Decision America Tour 2016 on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Delaware was the 42nd stop of the 50-state Decision America Tour 2016 on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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