Decision America Tour 2016 with Franklin Graham

By Cathy Keim

Editor’s note: We are fortunate indeed that Cathy attended Tuesday’s event in Annapolis and filed a first-hand report with her observations. Maryland was the third-to-last stop on this 50-state tour, which began way back in January and stopped in Dover back on their primary election day, September 13. The final stop is Wednesday in North Carolina.

Pray. Vote. Engage.

Tuesday I joined about 50 other folks from Salisbury on a bus sponsored by the Salisbury Prayer Breakfast Committee to attend the Franklin Graham rally in Annapolis. Jack Savage was our intrepid leader. We pulled out of the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center parking lot at 8:30 in the morning and headed north.

We assembled on Lawyer’s Mall with a crowd that swelled to over three thousand and began to spill into the street. Volunteers were handing out American and Christian flags. It was a well-organized event. There were several Christian schools in attendance. It was good to see the smiling, young people.

Dennis Agajanian warmed up the crowd with his exceptional guitar picking and then led the crowd in some traditional hymns including How Great Thou Art, which has a long history in the Billy Graham crusades. The crowd was enthusiastic and sang robustly.

Franklin Graham came to the podium and immediately led off with, “Our country is in trouble.” No political party, nor any individual can turn it around – only God can do it. As a nation we are spiritually, racially, economically, and politically divided. We need to pray.

The he turned to Nehemiah 1 and explained how the Jews had been carried off to exile in Babylon as slaves. God had brought judgement upon their nation because they didn’t repent from their sins. Nehemiah was a slave in the king’s palace in Babylon. He heard about how the remnant of Jews left in Jerusalem were suffering because the walls were broken down.

Nehemiah petitioned the evil pagan king for permission to return to Jerusalem and the king granted it. There were enemies at every hand determined to thwart the rebuilding of the walls, but Nehemiah persisted and in 52 days, the walls were rebuilt.

Walls are meant for protection. Gates can be opened or shut depending on the need. Our moral walls and gates are down and any type of wicked thought and activity and teaching can come and go. Our educators, big business, politicians and – sadly to say – many of our churches are more concerned about profits and political correctness than they are about God’s truth and His righteousness. Nehemiah fasted and prayed and confessed the sins of himself, his people, and his fathers.

He confessed the sins of his nation. When we consider the sins of our nation, where do we even begin?

Graham encouraged us to hold hands and pray for the sins of our nation as each of us felt moved, then asked those in the crowd to confess their personal sins. He added that he didn’t fully understand the father’s sins, but he encouraged us to pray and confess for the sins of our fathers. Next Graham prayed for Governor Hogan, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, for the workers in the capital, and for our law enforcement officers.

Then he gave an explanation of the gospel message that Jesus Christ came to save sinners. It is only through Jesus Christ that we can find salvation. Not only does our nation need healing, but our individual hearts need healing. Graham stressed that God loves us, but we have a problem called sin: a disease of the human soul that separates us from God. God is a holy and just God. As a human race, we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.

“But God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

Then, being a technological age, Graham invited anyone who had just prayed for new life to text 21777 and type in the word “Decision” so that literature would be sent to you.

After his religious message, Graham pivoted to more of a historical reminder. He recalled that when he was growing up everybody was worried that “the Commies were coming.” During his grade school years his school had drills where you got under your desk in case of nuclear bombs. He pointed out that hiding under your desk was not very helpful, but we practiced anyway. We had bomb shelters with food that was to last for 40 years. It as inedible, but it would last. Then the Berlin Wall came down and secularism came in and there was no difference between secularism and communism because both are godless.

We removed the Ten Commandments and prayer from our schools. Patriotism and the pledge of allegiance are out. Our kids have no idea what is right or wrong.

We have been lied to about the separation of church and state. That whole discussion was about protecting the citizens from State sponsored religions. He said that the Grahams came from Scotland, where the Anglican Church was the state-sponsored religion of the English kings. They tried to force the Scots to be Anglicans, but the Scots said they had no Lord but the Lord Jesus Christ. So the English kings cut off their heads even before ISIS. The ancestors of Billy Graham came to America for religious freedom.

Today the secularists are trying to change our understanding of freedom of religion. For generations we knew the meaning of the term was that you can live your faith freely, and share it as desired. This has devolved into a concept of freedom of worship, meaning that you can worship in the confines of a church only. You cannot live out your Christian faith in the world.

We need Christian men and women to run for office. Look at your candidates in the presidential race. Graham succinctly assessed that, “it has been interesting this year.”

But it isn’t only about the presidential election. We need to vote thoughtfully on the local level and we need to encourage Christians to run for office. Christians should run for the school board, but they should come ready to fight because the enemy is poisoning our children’s minds. Progressives – which is just another word for atheist – get pornographic books onto 7th grade reading lists. Note that if you fight back, the progressives will call you intolerant. Smile and say no.

We must take our schools back as we are losing our nation.

The church must wake up. Pray and get involved: in the last election 20 to 30 million evangelicals stayed home. People complain about the rigged voting, added Graham, but if 30 million more voters showed up, they couldn’t rig that election. He mentioned the 2008 Coleman/Franken Senate race in Minnesota that was decided by 220 votes sending the vile, anti-God Franken to the Senate. (Editor’s note: it should be pointed out that Norm Coleman led on election night – a large number of questionable absentee ballots “found” during the recounts put Franken on top. Note that Minnesota had a radical Democrat Secretary of State in charge of that election, too.)

Graham then asked the people to take his Pledge to God and Country:

Honor God at home.
Honor God in public.
Honor God with my vote.
Pledge to pray faithfully for my country.
Register to vote.
Pledge to engage in my community and run for office if God leads.

Graham asked that those who take the pledge text “America” to 21777 to receive access to a digital copy of Decision magazine’s election special.

Graham closed with this exhortation: Our job as Christians is to make the impact of Christ known to our fellow citizens. Be an advocate for God’s truth. Turn our country back to “In God We Trust.”

Dennis Agajanian led the crowd in God Bless America and America to close the event.

Well, that was an overview of what was said at the rally yesterday, at least as best I could take notes. I had no complaints with anything that Franklin Graham said. It is certainly true that no matter who is elected president next month, that person will not be able to fix America. They may help or hurt our country, but they will not be able to “fix” it. Our walls are down and we are sinking under the flood of ills that besiege us.

Our current presidential race is the prime example of where our low morals have led us. All the people that are moaning that this is despicable should ask themselves what else can we expect when we have turned our backs on all that is good and noble and true and have encouraged the basest type of behavior in our citizens.

It is time for us to begin our long march to retake our culture. We have allowed the progressives free rein in our schools, our culture, our churches. We must stand for the truth. It will not be easy as the truth is not respected nor sought by many. But stand we must.

I’m going to close with several photos I took at the event.


As editor, I concur with Cathy’s assessment.

And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 22:30-31, KJV)

Christians, it may be uncomfortable and you may lose some worldly things, but it’s time to make up the hedge.

Conservative victories – wherever you can get them

Tuesday is a big day for a Maryland-based PAC as they attempt to broaden their reach and influence.

That evening the Conservative Victory PAC is sponsoring a fundraiser for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, with plenty of influence from Maryland: Dan Bongino will give  “special remarks”  and the host committee features both former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich and lieutenant governor Michael Steele. As they note, “proceeds will be provided to the Cuccinelli Campaign Team,” and there should be plenty of proceeds seeing that the admission prices start at a steep $135. This ain’t no little spaghetti dinner fundraiser.

My erstwhile Red Maryland colleagues Brian Griffiths and Greg Kline have been critical of the CVPAC on their website and radio show this week, contending the group should be paying attention to local races in Annapolis and Frederick. But unlike last year, Diana Waterman stated to me in a recent conference call that there were no plans for the state party to help in Virginia as they did for Mitt Romney. So in that respect the CVPAC is taking up that slack.

Yet there’s a factor which makes the CVPAC decision less surprising for me. With the exception of Jim Rutledge, the CVPAC Board of Directors lives in the Washington metropolitan area, so they likely follow Virginia politics almost as closely as Maryland’s because their local media deals with both. And while I disagree that the host committee is necessarily the shining example of conservatism, certainly Ken Cuccinelli would be considered a conservative rising star and perhaps future Presidential material in 2020 (after his one term in Virginia would be completed) if he succeeds in winning this year.

And it’s not like this should be a surprise, coming from the CVPAC. If you recall their trailer for 2014, the video narrator intoned that “alliances will be formed” between Maryland and Virginia. Moreover, their stated goal for Maryland is 19 State Senate seats and if they can get some reciprocal help from the commonwealth to our south – yes, that’s a big ‘if’ but they’re trying to form the alliance – we may be able to tip those scales. (Meanwhile, a member of their Board of Directors is running for governor here, so one might think CVPAC may be looking for assistance there, too.)

Are the races in Annapolis and Frederick a big deal? To an extent, yes – perhaps they can succeed and show us a path for success in Salisbury come 2015. (By population, Salisbury is quite comparable to Annapolis and is Maryland’s ninth-largest city; it’s also the largest on the Eastern Shore.) But every political operation has its priorities and it sounds like CVPAC is trying to leverage conservative success in Virginia into victories next year in Maryland.

But you have to have the Virginia success first for that plan to work.

A push from the top?

Indications are that Maryland’s emboldened gun control proponents will receive a boost Wednesday through a Presidential visit. As one legislator, State Senator Joe Getty, stated:

There is lots of chatter in the hallways of Annapolis that President Barack Obama will be visiting Annapolis to endorse the gun control legislation proposed by Governor Martin O’Malley.

That would make lots of sense on behalf of both politicians.

For Obama, it is unlikely that his gun control proposals will pass the U.S. House of Representatives, so positive benefits can be derived for him by aligning himself with the gun licensing requirements and weapons ban on the fast-track in a Democratic-controlled state.

For O’Malley, he not only get increased national exposure from the stature of a presidential visit but also the advocacy to bring potential recalcitrant Democrats into line with a presidential plea for party loyalty in the gun control debate.

Further credence is lent to the prospect through a note passed to me by a friend. This is a notice from the FAA regarding next Wednesday, February 6:

VIP Notice – Annapolis, Maryland

Notice Number: NOTC4556

Notice: Expect VIP movement February 06, 2013 in the vicinity of Annapolis, Maryland.  Pilots can expect airspace restrictions in conjunction with this VIP movement.  The FAA recommends that all aircraft operators check NOTAMs OFTEN for  mandatory airspace restrictions prior to operations within this region.

Specific instructions and restrictions are available at once the NOTAM has been issued. (Emphasis in original.)

The February 6 date is significant because the governor’s pet gun control bill, SB281, is being heard that day by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Among other things, the 38-page bill requires registration of so-called “assault weapons” by November 1, 2013, reduces the allowable magazine capacity to 10 rounds, and establishes “handgun qualification licenses” (read: a series of expensive and intrusive hoops to jump through in order to possess what is supposed to be granted you through an inalienable right to self-defense.)

So how will the President’s visit affect the proceedings? Well, as Getty notes, the President’s appearance could bring a few more House Democrats to the gun grabbers’ side (this term is literally used, based on the bill’s requirements.) The conventional wisdom is that it has enough votes to pass in the Maryland Senate but its fate is much more iffy in the House of Delegates.

But there’s the pro-Second Amendment side to consider as well. If downtown Annapolis becomes a security zone, particularly if Barack Obama chooses to speak at Lawyers’ Mall, it may well leave protesters nowhere to go. They’d be scattered around and scattered is not newsworthy nor is it strength in numbers. Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if busloads of fawning Obama supporters are brought in to provide the President with a supportive crowd.

And let’s not overlook another calculation made by the Democrats. Two of the biggest pet issues pro-liberty forces are concerned about in this legislative session are the onerous (and ultimately futile insofar as preventing crime goes) gun control measures being pushed by Martin O’Malley and the Tier Map repeal bill (HB106) proposed on the House side by Delegate Mike McDermott. It’s not for nothing that both the SB281 and HB106 hearings are being held at the exact same time in a brilliant piece of divide-and-conquer strategy. Bad enough that many working people (like me) can’t get to the hearings because they’re held during normal business hours in Annapolis, but to have two bills strongly opposed by pro-liberty citizens go through a hearing process at such an inconvenient time is a huge obstacle.

A suggestion I’m making to counter that is to submit written testimony. I’m speaking off the cuff here – so input would be appreciated – but having submitted written testimony before, I seem to recall the idea is to keep it to a length where, if spoken, it takes about 3 minutes to deliver – about 600 words, give or take. I plan on devoting part of my weekend to submitting written testimony for both bills, whether it will be on behalf of the entire Wicomico County Republican Central Committee or my own personal viewpoint.

One final word. The last thing we need with a Presidential visit is for someone to go off-message by making this a personal vendetta against Barack Obama. We can – and should – say that the President is wrong in trying to usurp our inalienable rights and continues to go to the extreme of emotional appeal as a knee-jerk reaction to a problem where guns were the tool but not the cause. Our side has proposed common-sense solutions that don’t involve making criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens, such as allowing willing teachers who go through a prescribed and recommended gun safety course – a monetary and time investment they are willing to voluntarily make – to carry their weapons in schools. Note again that mass shootings tend to happen in so-called “gun free zones” and stop once authorities with firepower arrive.

We can win this fight, despite the obstacles and star power placed in front of us. Obviously the other side is worried, for if it were a slam dunk fait accompli that the gun bill would pass there wouldn’t be a visit from Barack Obama until the bill was on Martin O’Malley’s desk. So let’s get out there and fight!

Engage the purple shirts (and release the hounds!)

In the wake of the Madison showdown, the Service Employees International Union (affectionately known about these parts as the purple shirts) is holding a number of local rallies to show their support. I don’t think they have the cajones to show up in Salisbury, so they’ll be in friendlier Maryland territory – Annapolis.

The details are as follows (h/t to Ann Corcoran and Potomac TEA Party Report):

Time: 12:00 PM (Tuesday, February 22)
Location: Lawyers’ Mall, Maryland State House
Address: 100 State Circle – Annapolis, MD. 21401

What a way to sully George Washington’s birthday – a real group of freedom fighters would be on Governor Scott Walker’s side, not backing Wisconsin’s ‘cut-and-run’ Democrats. But we know how the SEIU rolls, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see a few of their toadies in the General Assembly sneak out and show their support. (It would be even cooler for GOP members to mount a counterprotest – like these union thugs would vote for Republicans anyway. Our job is playing to the real people of Maryland who believe unions should be kept in check and do what they are supposed to do – organize workers, not play political games.)

As of this moment, the SEIU website shows 26 rallies in 22 states – mainly those where union presence is heaviest. A notable omission from the list is Virginia. Delaware isn’t on the list yet, either; then again, Annapolis isn’t all that far for them.

This would be a great opportunity for those TEA Party activists (well, the ones who aren’t trying to make a living like yours truly) to bring your cameras and verify that these purple shirts act with decorum and respect for opposing views. Yeah, like that will happen – the 1-2″ of snow predicted for Tuesday morning will arrive too soon to cover the mess they’re sure to leave given the track record of lefty protests. It also may give the Anne Arundel County schoolteachers some cover if school is cancelled due to the wintry conditions. (Saves them from calling in ‘sick.’)

In the meantime, I stand with Governor Scott Walker. Maybe we’ll find one of those cut-and-run Democrats hiding in Annapolis at the rally – if so, make sure he or she is returned to Madison, Wisconsin.