JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Despite a downpour of bone-chilling rain, a mass of people came to Jefferson City Tuesday for a chance to hear Franklin Graham speak on his Decision America Tour.
Graham, the son of pastor has been encouraging people on the nationwide tour to get involved in government and politics as Christians, and his appearance in Missouri and his message, judging from the turnout and active crowd, was well-received. He denounced the current state of the nation, primarily what he referred to as its “moral failings,” like the continuation of abortion and the legitimization of same-sex marriage. He also said that secularism had replaced communism as the primary enemy of the nation.
“We need men and women who will honor God,” he said during his speech. “America has been stripped of its biblical heritage.”
Fundamentalists and evangelicals filled the South Lawn, Capitol Ave., wrapped around the western side of the building, stood on the steps of the Missouri Supreme Court and those inside the Capitol opened windows on the second and third floors and watched from the ledges.
— Travis Fitzwater (@travisfitzwater) May 17, 2016
Karen and Dave Wilson drove all the way from Cape Girardeau, Missouri to attend the event.
“We just felt like God told us to come out here today, make a stand,” Dave said. Karen added that she and her husband wanted to “join with others in faith.”
The Wilsons were two of nearly 6,000 people that attended the event, according to Decision America staff.
“I just thank God that so many people care about their state and about this country that they would come out here on a weekday in the middle of the day and stand here in the pouring rain, and some people have been out here for hours,” Graham said. “It just shows you, this country that men and women of God are serious about this country and willing to pray for it.”
Graham noted this was the first time it has rained in the 22 state capitals he has visited thus far, but that turnout in Missouri matched the reception he has received in other states.
“Every place we’ve been, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people that have come. I thought if we had a few people come here on the steps today, that would be a great.
Graham insisted the gathering was apolitical, meant only to encourage those with faith to vote based on principles rooted in Christianity. He denounced both political parties and insisted that more true people of faith were needed on the right and the left, even calling on members of the crowd to run for local office, to effect change in some way.
That message resonated with Emmanuel Hasemann of New Haven, Missouri. He believes Graham’s call to action is exactly what Christians should do to properly carry out their faith.
“We need to go out and do the work, become politicians, and do what we can on our state and local level and help people as much as we can,” Hasemann said.
While the crowd was overwhelmingly conservative or Republican and was dotted with presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats, Graham urged his followers to ignore partisanship and instead do research and find candidates with Christian ideals.
“I have no hope in the Democratic party. I have no hope in the Republican party. The only hope for this country is Almighty God,” he said during his speech. Graham later added, “I was a Republican for years, and I resigned from the Republican party last year, I was just fed up with them. I’m non-affiliated.
“There are good people in the Republican party, there are some good people in the Democratic party… but let’s get Christian men and women to run in both parties and take both of them back for God.”
After the event, many of the people moved indoors for another rally called the “Appeal to Heaven” for Christian candidates for statewide office. Many Republican candidates attended and spoke at the event, including gubernatorial candidate John Brunner, lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Bev Randles, attorney general candidate Josh Hawley, and both secretary of state candidates Sen. Will Kraus and Jay Ashcroft.
Brunner called the events of the day “inspirational.”
“Folks across the nation are discouraged,” Brunner said. “They see all the changes happening in this country and he’s here to give us a word of encouragement… and that makes all the difference.”