Evangelist Franklin Graham issued some "simple advice" to black people and other races on Sept. 25 on how to avoid getting shot by the police.
Writing on Facebook, Graham defended the police, lectured civilians on "avoidable shootings" by the police and ended his posting with "every life matters," an often-used pushback against the Black Lives Matter movement:
Listen up, whites, blacks, Latinos and everybody else. I’ve said it before, and I’m going to say it again. I want to help you survive to live another day. Too many people have been shot unnecessarily by police. If you’re stopped by law enforcement, here’s some simple advice -- Follow their instructions!
The streets are dangerous and there’s a raging epidemic of violence in our nation. Remember, the police are on alert -- it’s dangerous out there for them. They put their lives on the line day after day, 24/7. There’s no question, there are too many avoidable shootings.
But if you’re stopped by law enforcement -- any race, any time, any place -- this is something everyone can do to greatly diminish your chances of getting shot. Just do what the officer says! If they say “Stop,” then stop. If they say, “Lie down,” then lie down. If they say, “Put your hands up,” then put your hands up. Even if you feel the officer is wrong, obey. Don’t argue.
That doesn’t mean mistakes aren’t going to be made, but heeding this advice may save your life. No matter what our skin color, we all bleed red. We’re all human beings created by God -- and every life matters.
While Graham emphasized that everyone bleeds red at the end of his posting, he made sure to name different races at the beginning. Graham made this posting after a week of police violence that took the lives of two African-American men: Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Officer Betty Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter in Crutcher's death.
ThinkProgress reported in July that February and March were the deadliest months in 2016 for police shootings of civilians.
Graham issued a similar warning on March 12, which also named races, noted Christian Today:
Listen up -- Blacks, Whites, Latinos, and everybody else. Most police shootings can be avoided. It comes down to respect for authority and obedience. If a police officer tells you to stop, you stop. If a police officer tells you to put your hands in the air, you put your hands in the air ...
Even if you think the police officer is wrong -- YOU OBEY. Parents, teach your children to respect and obey those in authority ... Some of the unnecessary shootings we have seen recently might have been avoided ... The Bible says to submit to your leaders and those in authority "because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account."
Graham was criticized by several evangelical Christian leaders at the time, who signed a letter that called Graham's comments "crude, insensitive, and paternalistic."
The letter went on to further criticize Graham, who is the son of pioneering televangelist Billy Graham:
Your comments betrayed the confidence that your brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those of color, have afforded your father's ministry for decades. Your instructions oversimplified a complex and critical problem facing the nation and minimized the testimonies and wisdom of people of color and experts of every hue, including six police commissioners that served on the president's task force on policing reform...
As your brothers and sisters in Christ, who are also called to lead the body, we are disappointed and grieved by your abuse of the Holy Scriptures. You lifted Hebrews 13:17 out of its biblical context and misappropriated it in a way that encourages believers to acquiesce to an injustice that God hates. That text refers to church leadership, not the secular leadership of Caesar.