There are few names as associated with modern Christianity as Reverend Billy Graham. For decades, the pastor has served as an advisor to presidents regardless of party. He was a living embodiment of how people should act toward those who may disagree with them.
As the day of the funeral fast approaches, past presidents and other dignitaries are paying their respects: former President George W. Bush did on Monday, and former President Bill Clinton did the same on Tuesday. President Donald Trump will be attending Graham’s funeral on Friday.
Yet former President Barack Obama will be skipping it, according to the Associated Press: “Former President Barack Obama is not planning to attend memorial services for the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham this week.”
Obama did tweet that Graham was “a humble servant who prayed for so many,” but the former president is still opting to skip the services. The message sent by this drops any pretense that Obama actually respects what Graham stood for.
None of this is overly surprising, at least for many American Christians. Obama, despite his claims of sharing their faith, routinely acted in a manner that showed disdain for the faithful. He rarely made an effort to reach out to Christians during his presidency, and actively targeted them with his policies and actions: See his stance on Hobby Lobby, and his never-forgotten feelings on rural Americans being simpletons clinging to guns and religion.
Obama worked to be divisive during his presidency, efforts that ran contrary to Graham’s outreach to politicians of both parties, so it’s not surprising Obama won’t be there. It’s not surprising that the best the former president can muster is a tweet for the fallen spiritual leader.
Yet Graham wouldn’t harbor ill will toward Obama because of the slight. It’s not the Christian way, after all.
If the former president wants to know why our nation is so divided these days, perhaps he would do well to look at this and remember his role in those divisions.