Franklin Graham and Yahoo

May 20, 2008

His father Billy was accused of kowtowing to the Soviets too. Franklin Graham wants to suspend evangelism activities within China during the Beijing Olympics so as to not offend (and break the law) in China. There is a wave of evangelists ready to hit the games, and Franklin believes it prudent if they just stayed home. If you didn’t know, his mother was born in China. This controversy has been brewing in the Christian blogosphere, and hit the papers yesterday:

Graham discourages ‘illegal’ evangelizing in China

Despite fierce criticism from some Christian activists, N.C.-based evangelist Franklin Graham said Sunday he’s sticking by his opposition to any “illegal” missionary work during this summer’s Beijing Olympics.

Graham, who recently met with state-sanctioned church leaders and government officials in China, told the Observer that as head of the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, he obviously supports evangelism. But he said he worries that the planned influx of American and other foreign missionaries into China for the Olympics could jeopardize freedoms Chinese Christians have won in recent years from the Communist government.

Of course Graham hasn’t turned over info to the Chinese government that caused people to be arrested, like Yahoo. But he’s getting sharp criticism not too dissimilar what a former dotcom great has received for its strategy of obeying Chinese laws:

Congress unimpressed by Yahoo apology for China dissident e-mail testimony

Congress has lambasted Yahoo again over its actions relating to the jailing of two Chinese dissidents. The House Foreign Affairs Committee held the hearing today so that Yahoo officials could explain why they previously withheld information from the government over its role in human rights violations in China. Yahoo’s executive VP and general counsel Michael Callahan called Yahoo’s foibles a “misunderstanding,” but the committee was having none of it. “Yahoo claims that this is just one big misunderstanding. Let me be clear—this was no misunderstanding. This was inexcusably negligent behavior at best, and deliberately deceptive behavior at worst,” said panel chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA).

Criticism of Franklin Graham has been quite strident:

Franklin Graham shows that his attachment to “officialdom” is no less enthusastic than his father.How horrendous that he would support a Communist sanctioned “church” over the True Church! And then have the gaul to say that no one should do ANY witnessing for Christ, except as sanctioned, regulated and approved by an ATHEIST COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT!God’s Word is true time after time:
Eccelsiastes 1:9-11:
That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which it may be said,

Some critics are taking matters into their own hands.

Yahoo has been defended for simply following the law. An in 2007, Yahoo! shareholders rejected a plan, opposed by the board, to to set up a human rights committee that would look to see if the company was involved in activities that would violate, human rights. That was largely aimed at China. The argument is, it’s better to offer the Chinese something than to offer nothing. You could say there are cynical motives behind this, the desire for profits and to compete with native sites like Baidu, but it is after all a publicly held corporation that has to answer to shareholders.

So what’s wrong with the Graham ministry doing essentially the same, assuming that Yahoo is right. His ‘industry’ is the evangelism business. In order to protect the ‘access’ he and his industry has, he’ll go along with the government and not blow it for the converted Christians (“the underground church”) already in the China. To do otherwise would mean that is presence would not be welcomed. So playing things cool for now will work out better in the long run. Is this moral cowardice or pragmatism?

Side note: A photo of Franklin Graham and his guns.

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