Franklin Graham, Christian evangelist and son of Billy Graham, took to Facebook over the weekend to detail the evils of marijuana. So far, the post has been shared 7,299 times by Christians who may not be aware that the link he posted as evidence of the deleterious effects of pot was written by Scientology’s Foundation for a Drug-Free World.
Graham was responding to commenters who had disagreed with his assessment of Laremy Tunsil, the NFL prospect who lost millions of dollars when a hacked photo of him smoking a bong circulated just prior to the NFL draft. Graham had written that Tunsil’s stupid act justified teams’ actions in not drafting him.
“If you’re an owner, you don’t want to invest $25 million in a pothead. Some states now have legalized marijuana, but that doesn’t make it right. It will hurt you in more ways than one, and I hope anyone reading this will stay away from it,” Graham had written.
But Facebook commenters had posted on Graham’s page that since marijuana was a natural product, and thus, created by God, that it must be beautiful. Or holy.
Graham reacted by launching a screed against the herb, naming a number of other things that “God made.”
“Well, God made mushrooms, but there are some types of mushrooms so poisonous that just one could make you dangerously ill or kill you. God made tobacco, but research has long proven that smoking or chewing it is very harmful to your body, even deadly. Just because God made snakes, doesn’t mean they’re harmless—I can tell you, I’m not going to be picking up any rattlesnakes! Marijuana has been proven to be addictive, has many side effects, and can be harmful. We’ve all seen the results it can bring when misused,” he wrote.
He then addressed himself to those who might be suffering with addiction, telling them that they could pray away their addictions with the prayer he offered them. He then invited them to post in the comments whether his prayer had helped, and he also said that he wanted to get in touch with those who would reach out to him.
The medical research he offered to back up his views of marijuana came straight from the Scientology web site. In addition to destroying one’s mind, causing panic attacks, and being implicated in cancer, the Scientologists warn that marijuana can make men sterile. Even more frightening are the effects on the fetus:
“Cannabis is one of the few drugs which causes abnormal cell division which leads to severe hereditary defects. A pregnant woman who regularly smokes marijuana or hashish may give birth prematurely to an undersized, underweight baby. Over the last ten years, many children of marijuana users have been born with reduced initiative and lessened abilities to concentrate and pursue life goals. Studies also suggest that prenatal (before birth) use of the drug may result in birth defects, mental abnormalities and increased risk of leukemia in children,” the article says.
Last year, The Daily Beast criticized the Foundation for a Drug-Free World for its reliance on fear tactics to keep schoolchildren and others from trying pot. The magazine printed a statement from a spokesperson who argued that the Foundation’s approach to drug-use prevention was based on sound methods:
Megan Fialkoff, spokeswoman for the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, defended its validity in a statement to The Daily Beast. “[It’s] is a secular, nonprofit public benefit corporation that empowers youth and adults with factual information about drugs so they can make informed decisions and live drug-free,” says Fialkoff. “No one, especially a young person, likes to be lectured about what he or she can or cannot do. Thus, we provide the facts that empower youth to choose not to take drugs in the first place.”
Why would Graham cite Scientologists on marijuana? Why not check with the National Institutes of Health. While acknowledging that medicines containing THC are being used to “treat nausea caused by chemotherapy and increase appetite in patients who have severe weight loss from HIV/AIDS,” the NIH’s site lists a number of articles that point out the dangers of marijuana usage.
Perhaps Franklin Graham spoke with FOX host Greta Van Susteren and her husband, John Coale, when they journeyed to Cambodia together. Van Susteren and Coale are long-time members of the Church of Scientology.
Gospel Herald Ministries reported that Graham asked his followers to pray for Coale when he underwent open-heart surgery in 2015. Graham described the couple as close friends, and noted that they had been huge contributors to his charity, Samaritan’s Purse.