Evangelical pastor Franklin Graham was, for whatever reason, outraged by a Wells Fargo television commercial featuring a couple adopting a deaf child. In fact, because the couple in the ad are women, the far-right reverend announced he’s moving his ministry’s considerable assets out of Wells Fargo altogether, as part of Graham’s effort to fight “moral decay.”
The story took an unintentionally amusing turn, however, when we learned that Graham’s new bank, BB&T, has sponsored gay pride events, has received an 80% score in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, and in one instance, even hosted a gay wedding reception in one of the bank’s branches.
I’d assumed that the Christian pastor simply failed to do his homework. Perhaps he was so disgusted by the adoption ad that he acted impulsively, not realizing he was simply moving funds from one gay-friendly financial institution to another.
But as of this morning, Graham insists that’s not the case. In an op-ed in USA Today, the pastor offers a unique take on why Wells Fargo is bad and why BB&T isn’t (thanks to my colleague Nazanin Rafsanjani for the heads-up).
[I]n our view, Wells Fargo went beyond being gay-friendly to being a public advocate – through a national TV advertising campaign – for a lifestyle we, as a Christian organization, believe to be biblically wrong. […]I think there is a difference between being friendly and being a public advocate…. We simply chose not to continue doing business with a bank that is promoting something that violates our conscience and beliefs.
It’s a curious argument.
Graham doesn’t deny that BB&T has embraced gay-friendly policies; he simply believes those policies aren’t as offensive as the commercial featuring the adoption.
The difference appears to be, of all things, television. The op-ed notes, for example, BB&T’s sponsorship of a “Legacy Couples” program that celebrates same-sex families, but the piece emphasized that the bank “did not promote this program through a national advertising campaign (or we would still be looking for another bank).”
In other words, the real issue here is TV ads. That’s the line Franklin Graham does not want to see crossed – the public might see the commercials.
I just have one follow-up question: he does realize gay-pride parades are in public, right?