Franklin Graham: True Christians should be willing to ‘take a bullet’ for their ‘intolerant’ beliefs
Franklin Graham speaks to CNN (screen grab)

Franklin Graham cranked up the heat in the debate over North Carolina's anti-LGBT law by asking his followers whether they were willing to "take a bullet" and become a martyr for their "intolerant" beliefs.

The president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association founded by his father has been complaining about transgender people's access to public restrooms for months, and he has enthusiastically promoted the controversial HB2.

But in a Facebook message to his followers posted Sunday evening, Graham encouraged anti-LGBT bigots to martyr themselves or face God's eternal wrath.

"What would you take a bullet for?" Graham asked. "What are the principles and beliefs that you would not compromise under any circumstances? Even if it meant putting your life on the line?"

He cited the biblical tale of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the Book of Daniel, which recounts how three Hebrew boys were thrown into a "fiery furnace" when they refused to bow before the image of King Nebuchadnezzar, which was required under Babylonian law.

The boys were cast into the furnace but survived, and the wicked king saw them walking with a fourth figure who appeared to be a "son of god."

Graham encouraged his own followers to follow that Old Testament example in opposing American laws that contradict their biblical worldview.

"I want to call on every Christian and every pastor to stand firm like these patriarchs of old and not bow to the secular, increasingly godless culture in which we live—even when (not if) we’re criticized, mocked, and labeled intolerant," Graham said.

In case the context isn't entirely clear from that post, just two days earlier Graham alluded to Daniel 3 in another Facebook post to complain about an Obama administration directive on transgender access to public school restrooms.

"Who does President Barack Obama think he is?The sultan of Washington?" Graham asked Friday in a Facebook post. "Does he think he can just make a 'decree' and we will bow down and simply obey?"

He encouraged school officials to disobey the directive, which threatens to withhold federal funding to schools that fail to comply with the Obama administration's interpretation of equal rights laws.

"The president obviously must have no fear of God, who made us and created us male and female," Graham said. "I hope that school districts across this nation will defy President Obama and his administration’s radical progressive agenda to promote and advance the sin of homosexuality and the LGBT agenda."

Two days later Graham told his followers that God would protect them if they engaged in violent confrontation over their opposition to LGBT rights.

"The God of the Old Testament that delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from their fiery execution is the same God today — and He is still more than able to save," Graham promised. "Will you stand against ungodliness? What are you willing to take a bullet for?"