Franklin Graham: It’s ‘Absurd’ to Blame Charlottesville on Trump, ‘Satan Is Behind It All’

On Sunday evening, the Reverend Franklin Graham condemned the violence in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend, and insisted it was "absurd" to blame President Donald Trump for it. Instead, he pointed to the devil.

"Really, this boils down to evil in people's hearts. Satan is behind it all. He wants division, he wants unrest, he wants violence and hatred," Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and Samaritan’s Purse, declared in a Facebook post. "He's the enemy of peace and unity."

Graham condemned the politicians "who are trying to push blame on President Trump" for the violence and unrest. "That's absurd," the minister declared. He also suggested some others who could be blamed besides the president.

"What about the politicians such as the city council who voted to remove a memorial that had been in place since 1924, regardless of the possible repercussions? How about the city politicians who issued the permit for lawful demonstration to defend the statue? And why didn't the mayor or the governor see that a powder keg was about to explode and stop it before it got started?" Graham asked.

"Instead they want to blame President Donald J. Trump for everything," he suggested.

Graham explicitly condemned the evil ideologies dividing Americans. "I denounce bigotry and racism of every form, be it black, white or any other. My prayer is that our nation will come together. We are stronger together, and our answers lie in turning to God," the evangelical leader wrote. He encouraged Americans to "pray for peace and for all those impacted by Saturday's tragedies."

Some Christians disagreed with Graham's explanation, however. James Martin, S.J., a Jesuit priest and friend of Pope Francis, connected Trump to the Charlottesville violence. "The president's courting of the alt right, his egging on of violence and his failure to swiftly condemn white supremacists is the real shame," Martin tweeted, while retweeting Graham's statement.

Christian activist and author Shane Claiborne also responded to Graham by asking, "Did you miss all the 'Make America Great Again' hats or David Duke saying this was the 'fulfillment of all the promises of Trump'?"

According to a report by RealClearPolitics' Rebecca Berg, Graham's organizations received hefty donations from the Trump Foundation as Donald Trump planned his 2016 presidential run. Berg reported that Trump's foundation sent $100,000 to the BGEA in 2012. NBC News added that the foundation gave an additional $25,000 to Samaritan's Purse.