Christian evangelist Franklin Graham is right. We need more political leaders who "believe in and live biblical principles."
"If we don't do this we are going to lose our country," said Graham, the son of the Rev. Billy Graham. He delivered his message last week at a prayer rally at the State Capitol in Jackson.
That "live" part is especially important.
How often have we seen politicians present themselves as moral champions only to learn that was a false front, a façade used to attract votes. As one attendee told the Clarion-Ledger, "Sometimes they tell you they are (godly people), then when they get into office they do something else."
The temptations for politicians to cheat, lie and make false promises are ever present. Too many of our political leaders succumb to these temptations.
Consider elected officials who use their campaign accounts for unrelated personal spending. They are cheaters who accept donations to get and stay elected, but spend the money on trips, clothes, vehicles, apartments and more.
Consider the elected officials who lie to constituents when they say they are for something, but vote differently when special interests turn up the heat. In particular, consider the legislators who told local officials, businesses and other constituents they would support more funding to fix our crumbling roads and bridges, then voted against legislation to do just that when anti-tax lobbyists threatened to turn voters against them.
Consider the false promises elected officials loudly proclaimed upon passing House Bill 1523, the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act. Authored by House Speaker Philip Gunn, passed handily by the House and Senate, and proudly signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant, this law purports to protect churches, businesses and public employees if, based on "sincerely held religious views or moral convictions" about marriage, sex, and gender identity, they refuse to accommodate certain people, e.g. gay couples and LGBT individuals.
House Bill 1523 offers false promises, not protection, because the issues involved arise from federal law and constitutional rights, not state law.
"We would caution government officials and others that House Bill 1523 does not override federal law or constitutional rights," said Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. "If a person or government official violates a federal statute or constitutional provision, House Bill 1523 will not protect that official from a federal lawsuit or from potential personal liability under federal law."
Even Gov. Bryant said, "This bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of this state."
Any state law that promises legal protection for actions deemed discriminatory by federal law or court interpretations of the U.S. Constitution makes promises that cannot be relied upon ... false promises.
Political leaders who truly believe in and live biblical principles do not make false promises. Nor do they cheat or lie. Rather their actions shine with the integrity, forthrightness and honest assurances engendered by their firm faith.
Yes, Franklin, we need such leaders.
Write Bill Crawford, a syndicated columnist from Meridian, at email@example.com.