CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The state president of the North Carolina NAACP issued an open letter Monday accusing evangelist Franklin Graham of using his father’s name in a national ad campaign for his own political posturing.
Earlier this year, Dr. William Barber and other clergy met privately with Graham after he questioned President Obama's Christian faith on a national television show. Graham apologized then, but Barber said the recent ad campaign has raised more concerns.
The open letter challenges a recent national ad paid for by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, urging voters to choose a candidate based on biblical principles like their stance on abortion and marriage between a man and a woman.
Although the ad features Rev. Billy Graham's face, the group said it goes against the reverend's legacy and believes its message is a part of the political agenda of Franklin Graham.
Barber read in the letter, "We believe your father is rooted in a much broader and deeper perspective more akin to the faith and moral values of our nation and we believe my brother you have gone astray."
The group believes the ad continues to cast doubt on Obama, endorses Mitt Romney and glosses over Bible-based issues impacting voters like poverty, health care and social injustice. Barber said the open letter is not an endorsement for Obama.
"Far too often our Christianity has been designated by a religious right that does not have Jesus as their centerpiece but has a political agenda,” religious scholar Dr. Rodney Sadler said.
"If you are misusing your father’s legacy and please cease,” Barber said.
Barber is encouraging other clergy to sign on their support for the open letter to Graham.
Eyewitness News reached out to Graham's public relations team about the allegations waged in the open letter. A BGEA spokesperson referred us to its original statement when the ad was first released, that said the ad was not an endorsement of a particular candidate or party, but is an endorsement of biblical principles. The association also released another statement.
Statement from Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:
"We regret that some members of the NAACP find issue with the recent ads sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).
The content of the ads speaks for itself, and we readily acknowledge the campaign does not include every concern other groups and organizations may have liked it to address. However it does reference specific biblical values about which Mr. Graham has spoken -- recently and in the past -- encouraging people to vote for candidates who would 'support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman, protect the sanctity of human life, and defend our religious freedoms.'
Certainly there are any number of topics about which other individuals and organizations in this country feel strongly and may prefer to discuss. We respect their right to use their voices and public forums to do so. These ads have been paid for by a large number of donors who have lent their support to this effort.”