Evangelist Franklin Graham prays for Orlando victims at Madison rally, but crowd clashes

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MADISON-- Evangelical leader Franklin Graham began a rally outside the Wisconsin State Capitol by praying for victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Graham spoke to thousands of people. The crowd included mostly supporters along with a few hundred protesters from freedom-from-religion and gay-rights groups. After the rally, some evangelicals and protesters clashed.

"There is no God to get you into the right place," one man said to a group of protesters outside the state Capitol. Police got in the middle of arguments to settle the crowd down, but no arrests were made.

Rally at Franklin Graham speech in Madison

Rally at Franklin Graham speech in Madison

The yelling started after Graham, who is the son of Billy Graham, ended his 30-minute speech. He told his audience to vote for Christian political candidates in this fall's elections.

Franklin Graham in Madison

Franklin Graham in Madison

"Our forefathers never meant for Christians, or people of faith, to leave their faith out here on the street when they walk into the Capitol," said Graham.

The rally was part of Graham's nationwide tour, which has stops scheduled through October. In Madison, he did not endorse candidates and told the crowd, "God will tell you who to vote for."

LGBT and freedom from religion groups said the message was bigoted and hateful.

"I don't believe that the Bible tells people to hate each other," said Mary Lou Taylor of Fitchburg, who held up an rainbow-colored flag near the rally. "It's not the same kind of Christianity that I follow."

Steve Starkey, who is gay, said he thought Graham's message was "an attack" on people like him -- especially coming days after the Orlando mass shooting.

"Having anti-gay public messages like this encourages that kind of hatred," said Starkey, of Madison.

madison4Graham's supporters noted that the rally was planned long before the attack. They agreed with Graham's decision to pray for the victims.

"It's very tragic what happened in Orlando. We don't want anybody killed," said Mary Maggatz of Sun Prairie.

Graham's supporters say the country has lost its morals and pointed to the freedom-from-religion protesters as part of the problem.

"These people have more to lose, because if they don't believe, sorry to say they're going to be damned to hell," said Jean Lipke, a Graham supporter from Sauk County.

Some of the Graham followers at the rally said they planned to vote for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump this fall, even though Trump was not nearly as forthcoming about his faith on the campaign trail as other GOP candidates.

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3 comments

  • Truth Hertz

    Typical radicalized Christians constantly in contradiction of their man written book. This world is plagued by religious radicals and those who act against nature. Funny two groups that are deteriorating civility in society clash with each other over who should have a right to deteriorate civility in society.

  • Jeff

    It’s kinda strange how such loving people can attack the person that is praying for them. One’s priorities seem to be quite messed up somewhere along the way. Go figure, protesters can disrupt a Christian gathering, but if the Christians protest the protesters, that’s unfair. Gotta love the hypocrisy that is running rampant in America today.

  • Lee Bowman

    Sorry, but given Graham’s virulently anti-gay rhetoric, his lack of concern at any time for the LGBT community, and the horrible things he’s said about President Obama, his prayers for hte Orlando victims ring hollow. Maybe in there somewhere there’s a tinge of sincerity, but his acitions speak louder than his prayers. Graham, like Trump, Limbaugh, Cruz, Palin, and so many right-wingers, has nurtured an atmosphere of intolerance, bigotry and hate. And I say that confidently as a Christian myself. They are the problem, not some euphenistic “godless nation.”

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