In Japan a person’s 60th birthday is a time of special celebration. I was in Japan in 1998, and numerous people acknowledged my 60th birthday that year in various ways.
Turning 60 means that one has gone around the 12-year zodiac cycle five times. Even though there are many today who go around that cycle two or even three more times, in the olden days five times was considered a noteworthy accomplishment.
Maybe it was because of living in Japan so long, but I took special note when I saw that yesterday was Senator Lindsey Graham’s 60th birthday.
Actually, I don’t know a lot about Senator Graham other than he has been a U.S. Senator from South Carolina since 2003. Even though I once met his immediate predecessor, Sen. Strom Thurmond—who was a S.C. Senator from 1954 until 2003!—I have never met Sen. Graham.
I also know that he is one of the many Republicans running for President—and one of three Southern Baptists who are doing so. He now lives in the small town of Seneca in the very northwest corner of S.C. and is a member of the Corinth Southern Baptist Church there.
Last month I heard Sen. Graham interviewed on one of the Sunday morning news programs (which I recorded to watch that afternoon), and I became more favorably impressed with him by hearing what he had to say on that program.
And recently, even though it was not his initial position, not long after the tragic Charlestown shootings last month Graham commendably stood in agreement with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley when she said it was time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds.
Graham is campaigning on a hawkish foreign policy, however, insisting that he would maintain “security through strength”—that is to say, through a further projection of U.S. military power throughout the world.
According to a May 18 Washington Post article, Graham has declared, “If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining al-Qaeda or ISIL, I’m not gonna call a judge,” Graham said. “I’m gonna call a drone and we will kill you.”
It goes without saying that such extrajudicial assassination would be illegal and unconstitutional. Such “hawkishness” is a major reason why I could not support Sen. Graham.
Although Warren Harding was the first Baptist to be elected President, Harry Truman was the first Southern Baptist to occupy the White House. (Years ago I preached in Truman’s home church in Grandview, Mo., near the Truman Corners shopping center; Truman’s Bible was on display in a glass case in the foyer of the church.)
Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were also Southern Baptists. As a fellow Southern Baptist at the time of their election, I was happy that they were elected—partly because they were SBs.
Sadly, I was not so happy with the Carter administration—he has been a far better ex-President than he was President—or with Clinton’s personal conduct when in office.
There is almost no possibility of Sen. Graham being the 2016 Republican nominee for President or being elected to the high office. And that probably can be said for Sen. Ted Cruz and former governor Mike Huckabee, the two other Southern Baptists running for that nomination.
And that’s the good news.
While Sen. Graham especially may be a good and honorable man, his political ideas are not what the country—or the world—needs. So while sincere in wishing Sen. Graham a Happy Birthday, I cannot and will not be supporting his bid for the White House.