Franklin Graham is a man of contradictions. He’s devoted his life to preventing persecution and helping those who face terrifying violence, yet he sees gay Boy Scouts as a major threat to children. His mission field knows no borders, but he’s proposed a total ban on Muslims entering the United States. He claims to hate politics, yet maintains a prolific, politicized Facebook page. And when he looks at Donald Trump, he sees God at work in the White House, not a president who would fire an FBI director while under investigation, brag about groping women, and give away state secrets over small talk.
Billy Graham’s son—a pastor in his own right who leads his father’s evangelistic association and the charity Samaritan’s Purse—represents in one person the best impulses of Christianity and the contradictions that have confused many Americans about what white evangelicalism stands for. He is the evangelical id. He speaks plainly, without any mind to political correctness, to an extent that has sometimes chagrined even fellow conservatives. When he looks ahead to the next four or eight years, he sees great hope, and when he looks to his fellow Christians, he sees only unity. Graham has a devoted following: He attracts big crowds at his rallies and has millions of fans on social media. But he’s also been a polarizing figure within evangelicalism, particularly among the young, and has alienated those who wish he would take a more welcoming tone toward non-Christians.