CHARLOTTE, N.C. (ABP) – Nineteen black religious leaders visited the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., March 20 to meet with evangelist Franklin Graham.
The visit by the NAACP delegation came three weeks after Graham, president and CEO of both the Billy Graham association and the humanitarian ministry Samaritan’s Purse, apologized for statements in a television interview that appeared to question President Obama’s claim that he is a Christian.
Graham’s apology came after African-American ministers criticized his remarks and said they could be used to promote racism. An NAACP press release described the purpose of Tuesday’s meeting as “to discuss the use of faith as a political weapon and how to advance a new narrative about the meaning of evangelicalism.”
NAACP vice president Nelson Rivers III called it “a meaningful and productive meeting”
“All parties were in agreement that it is essential to our society and our faith that we refrain from demonizing Christians and people of other faiths when they do not agree with us,” said Rivers, pastor of Charity Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, S.C. “We look forward to continued discussions with Rev. Graham.”
According to the press release the group also agreed “to work together to have a national conversation about the core principles of justice and fairness and to help create a new narrative about evangelicalism and the message of Christ.”
Baptist ministers in the delegation included Amos C. Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco; Madeline Sadler, an ordained Baptist minister and founder of Exodus Foundation.org, a Christian faith-based charity dedicated to serving formerly incarcerated African Americans and those at risk for incarceration; and Stephen Thurston, senior pastor at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago and president of the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.