For the better part of a decade, Billy Graham’s oldest son, Franklin Graham, has used his father’s legacy to carry water for the religious right. In so doing, he appears to be going down the same road that nearly brought his father down in the 1970s. After Graham père got too close to Richard Nixon for comfort, he vowed to steer clear of politics. An evangelist who could stay relevant without engaging in hard-right hankering? What a concept!
Sadly, Graham fils has forgotten that lesson. We got yet another reminder of this on Tuesday, when Graham offered his two cents on the growing storm surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. He told CBN News that Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 35 years ago shouldn’t keep Kavanaugh off the Court. Watch here.
Graham fils peddled the standard right-wing line that Blasey Ford’s claims had been rolled out “at the eleventh hour for all political purposes,” and was intended to smear a man with a “stellar record.” While he conceded that the Senate was going to have to listen to Blasey Ford’s accusations, he harrumphed that they were “not relevant” to his qualifications for a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land.
At least one high-profile member of the Graham family disagrees. Namely, Graham fils’ nephew, Boz Tchividjian, a longtime advocate for victims of sexual assault. Tchividjian is one of the sons of Graham fils’ oldest sister, Gigi, and is the executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), an organization that works to help churches address sexual abuse in their ranks. Before founding GRACE in 2004, he was a prosecutor in the Daytona Beach area who specialized in sexual abuse cases.
In other words, Tchividjian knows what sexual abuse smells like. So soon after Blasey Ford dropped her cloak of anonymity, he took to Twitter to say that he believed her claims were definitely worth a look.
Tchividjian was speaking from experience. He has long believed that the authoritarian culture in many evangelical churches lends itself to abuse being swept under the rug.
For instance, in 2012, he was called in by the notoriously hyperfundamentalist Bob Jones University in response to widespread criticism about the manner it handled claims of sexual abuse and sexual harassment on campus. GRACE’s final report, issued in 2014, makes for horrifying reading. It reveals a long history of victim-shaming and victim-blaming in which credible claims were not acted upon in the name of protecting BJU’s reputation.
No doubt when Tchividjian saw Blasey Ford tell her story to The Washington Post, he heard echoes of what he heard in over two years of delving into the cesspool that was BJU. So it should come as no surprise that he believes her claims could not be more relevant.
There’s no word on whether Tchividjian had a chance to have some words with Uncle Franklin. But there is little doubt that Tchividjian is not pleased with right-wing efforts to dismiss Blasey Ford’s claims, as well as her calls for an FBI review.
Shorter Tchividjian: Allegations of sexual assault are VERY relevant.
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