The head of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP criticized the son of famed evangelist Rev. Billy Graham for using Graham's image to promote a narrow vision of Christianity in an advertising campaign allegedly attacking President Barack Obama.
"Those of you in the so-called ultra-conservative tradition say so little about what God said so much, and so much about what God said so little," Rev. William J. Barber III said Monday in a statement directed at Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, which paid for the ads, which recently ran in publications like USA Today, The Charlotte Observer and The Wall Street Journal bearing the elder Graham's signature.
According to the Observer, Barber, flanked by a group of a dozen African-American ministers, accused the ads of questioning Obama's spirituality, and said Franklin Graham was "cherry-picking the easy parts of Christianity" in a veiled attempt to boost Republican challenger Mitt Romney's candidacy.
Graham told the newspaper last week Romney's position against same sex marriage and abortion "are more in line with the moral teachings that I believe in," and Billy Graham reportedly promised Romney he would do all he can to help his campaign after father and son met with the former governor of Massachusetts.
"I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel," the ad said. "I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman."
Barber said that, while he was not endorsing Obama himself, the ads paid too much attention to these issues and called on voters to remember to consider topics like poverty, health care and education when casting their votes this year.
"Certainly there are any number of topics about which other individuals and organizations in this country feel strongly and may prefer to discuss," Barber said. "We respect their right to use their voices and public forums to do so."
WBTV-TV reported that the group released a statement saying the ads were designed without mentioning any specific candidate or political party and encourage readers to vote "based on their support for biblical values."
WBTV's report on Barber's criticism of Graham, aired Monday, can be seen below.
[image via Shutterstock]