Guest Post: Peter Olson of Trinity Lutheran Church in Bogota, New Jersey Writes an Open Letter to Franklin Graham

A Lutheran pastor in New Jersey writes an open letter to Franklin Graham that takes off on Twitter. In this blunt letter Peter Olson pushes back on Franklin Graham’s teachings, his belief that Christians in the United States are being persecuted and criticizes his support for Donald Trump.  This is a letter that I wanted to re-run and give even more distribution. 

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” 


“There are two kinds of fools: those who can’t change their opinions and those who won’t.” 

Josh Billings 

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.

Proverbs 18:2-3 NIV 

Franklin Graham in Nebraska, image from Wikipedia and Cornstalker

I saw this open letter that I am publishing today in my Twitter feed the other day and I deeply enjoyed it.  It was written by Peter Olson, a Lutheran Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bogota, New Jersey. Peter writes a blunt open letter that pushes back on much of what Franklin Graham has used his position and platform to advocate. I would strongly encourage you to read An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “Small Church” Pastor” .  I wish more people would do this and speak out as its so desperately needed. When evangelicals are silent about questionable figures, that silence implies that its okay with what Franklin Graham is teaching. Franklin Graham needs some serious push-back. I also want to highlight another Franklin Graham post that I wrote which reviews issues with his finances. You can read more in “Franklin Graham’s Salary, the IRS Change to Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Should Churches be Supporting “Operation Christmas Child?” I am also working on another post on Franklin Graham right now which I hope to publish in a couple of weeks. What is coming down the pike is a look at Franklin Graham’s association with Vladimir Putin and his view on Russia. I want to ask the question…is Franklin Graham the 21st century Charles Lindbergh? Both Franklin and Charles Lindbergh seem to love dictators and thugs. I am researching Russian foreign policy and just wrote the first part about the Georgian-Russian war in 2008. But I have a lot of research yet to do for that post. But as I am traveling I wanted to share with people here. I hope you guys enjoy it. 


15 thoughts on “Guest Post: Peter Olson of Trinity Lutheran Church in Bogota, New Jersey Writes an Open Letter to Franklin Graham

  1. That’s a great letter! If christians all thought like Peter, atheists would have a lot less to object to, and could probably shut down most of our legal organizations. Alas, there are still too many Franklin Grahams out there with too much money and power for that to happen. But I really appreciate when people from within christianity call these people out on their crap.


  2. Terrible letter from Pastor Peter.
    I suspect it’s going “viral” simply because anyone who criticizes the president & throws out liberal talking points goes viral, especially when it comes from Christians.

    I could take his letter apart line-by-line, but I won’t, other than to say that he should start at the first paragraph by dropping the pathetic envy. Starting the letter with envy of the mega-churches might be the worst part of it. Drop that & start over. Lose the gutter language too.

    Yes, Pastor Peter makes some valid points.
    But he torpedoes himself & his points with his nasty verbiage.
    The libs will eat it up & make it viral though.

    To be clear:
    I am NO fan of Mr. Graham.
    And I am in agreement with Eagle that the mega-church model needs to die, as it doesn’t function at all like a church, and nobody can shepherd that many people.

    I’d love to see a valid, sober, well-thought-out counter to some of Mr. Graham’s spurious assertions & theology. Unfortunately, Pastor Peter’s letter isn’t it.


    • I mostly agree with Ejj here.

      Eagle, I couldn’t finish reading Rev. Olsen’s post, because I found it too rude / condescending. To be honest, when I consider what we learn in the Bible, I find both Rev. Graham and Rev. Olsen in error, just in different areas. But, whether we’re right or wrong, I do think that it matters how we come across. I pray that it be in a way that at the very least is civil and respectful, even as we disagree on this or that issue. = )


  3. What is coming down the pike is a look at Franklin Graham’s association with Vladimir Putin and his view on Russia. I want to ask the question…is Franklin Graham the 21st century Charles Lindbergh? Both Franklin and Charles Lindbergh seem to love dictators and thugs.

    I think with Franklin it’s a simple case of “sucking up to Power”:

    Or the fantasy of becoming the Official State Religion, like Calvin in Geneva. Unfortunately, there is already a Russian Orthodox Church, and they do NOT share Power.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. @ ejj
    Can you point me to the ‘gutter language’ the Lutheran Pastor uses?
    And envy? I doubt very seriously that Olsen is envious of the the authoritarian narcissists who run the mega-biggie churches.
    I fail to see it. All in all I thought his open letter to Graham and his supporters was well written and a much needed push back to right-wing fundagelicalism everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fwiw, I agree, I didn’t observe any “gutter language”, and I’m not sure about the whole mega-church envy bit; but, Rev. Olsen did in my opinion use language that was a bit disrespectful.

      I believe that Rev. Olsen really should have approached Rev. Graham privately first — at least, attempted to have done so. Did he do so, and I just didn’t read far enough down to find that bit of info? I will grant you: that would be my fault, then. But, right off the bat in the post, I did not find that information. (I apologize if I come across as hypocritical in that regard, seeing as how I am commenting on our brother Rev. Olsen’s comments without having approached him first. Of course, I am not intending to draw a lot of negative public attention to him. My apologies to our brother if that does happen.)

      As for the language Rev. Olsen used in the post, he made it sound to me as if he questioned whether or not Rev. Graham knew the Bible — even as Rev. Olsen used language suggestive that he himself knew the Bible. To me, such language comes across as arrogant, belittling and disrespectful of one’s opponent — not language I’d expect to find in respectful civil discourse.

      That said, I agree with you, Muff Potter, that Rev. Olsen did bring up some good points that helped to balance out some of the unbiblical attitudes and practices common to “Fundevangelicalism” and American conservative Christianity. = )


    • Muff, it’s just the attack dogs coming out of the woodwork to Defend The Faith.
      “Who is like unto The Trump? Who can stand against Him?”
      “And Franklin Graham is His Prophet!”

      I read the open letter through Internet Monk’s link and all the attack dogs were swarming the comment thread with Righteousness and wagging fingers.


    • Overt envy:

      “We are nothing if not small. We seat 30-40 on a good Sunday. And we are a century old fixture of our small community. Most often we are overlooked and overshadowed by mega-churches and politically influential religious voices like your own. We don’t hold a candle to an auditorium filled with the music of a one hundred voice choir led by professional musicians. We probably will never be recognized in any nationally syndicated media. After all, we don’t do anything really “newsworthy.””

      Gutter language, more than once, here’s the first example:

      “The freedom to grab young girls by the genitals?”

      Is this really necessary to make his points?
      I don’t think so.


  5. As with many televised shows, there is a disclaimer. The views here do not necessarily reflect the views of other Christians. The Open Letter doesn’t speak FOR me.

    Just goes to show that Christians are not in unity. I’m so glad we don’t have a protestant Pope when people write Open Letters to others, because opinions vary.

    Ed Chapman


  6. I think that a serious way to do this would be to:

    1. Franklin Graham teaches
    2. The Bible states

    Then we can have a discussion on theology and see if what Graham teaches is actual bible stuff.

    If Graham teaches what is said in the Bible, then atheists/Christians have no standing to criticize Graham. However, if Graham is teaching what is not in the Bible, then Christians have standing to criticize Graham.

    If Love Trumps hate, then why don’t the people who preach Love Trumps Hate love Trump?

    They hate Trump, yet preach that love trumps hate? They hate Christians, but love trumps hate? They preach tolerance, but aren’t tolerant of Christians?

    There is much hypocrisy going on with the Trump haters.

    So, let’s talk theology instead of socialist ills.

    Ed Chapman


  7. King David screws Bathsheba while husband out in battle. Then has him killed. And yet, Trump is the bad guy.

    Apostle Paul killed Christians, and yet, Graham is the Bad guy.

    I think Peter needs to read his bible more.

    Ed Chapman

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good points, Ed. I especially appreciate your comments on what the Bible teaches vs. what Rev. Graham teaches, and the “Love Trumps Hate” folks.

      Seems to me that when it comes to political discussions, we could all stand to consider a bit more the biblical teaching of loving one’s neighbor as oneself. I don’t mean that as an LGBT-affirming issue, so much as a “How about we treat one another with respect and put in practice what the Bible teaches when we disagree?” issue.


      • Lynda,

        I’ll drink to that…oops, I mean, Amen to that. Yes, we, as Christians towards other Christians will always have disagreements in how we interpret things from a Bible standpoint. But when we dispute in a public forum like this pastor did, is he giving glory to God, or himself in doing so? How is he making the rest of us look?

        In my eyes, this pastor just called me a deplorable. I interpret this as that if I am a Trump supporter, that I am going to hell now.

        Yes, he could have handled this much differently, that’s for sure.

        Ed Chapman


  8. I’ve given this some more thought, and I’ll concede that I’m holding a pastor (Pastor Peter) to a slightly higher standard than I would a blogger such as Eagle. One can debate whether that’s a good thing, or whether that is fair or not, but I concede that I am doing this.

    And while I don’t have a blog, I’ve also been guilty of being as sarcastic as the pastor is in his “open letter”, so I recognize the deficit in others’ writings.

    If Pastor Peter wants to use a letter to Mr. Graham as a thinly-veiled opportunity to simply attack the president, that’s his right. But especially coming from a pastor, it’s just not laudable. If he stayed on task, and stuck to calling out Mr. Graham specifically, then wrote a separate missive regarding his issues with people’s support of the president, I think he’d be on “higher ground”, so to speak.

    As for me (not that anyone should care, but full disclosure), DT was simply the lesser of two evils, and I’d be interested in how Pastor Paul could justify support for the likes of Hillary Clinton. But that’s probably another topic, and I’m engaging in a straw man to boot, so I’m preemptively guilty as charged of knocking down a straw man.

    Nevertheless, Pastor Paul brings up an interesting issue: If I support a friend, or even an acquaintance, and that friend has done some bad things, does that make me guilty of doing those things? Because Pastor Peter seems to lay on a very heavy “guilt by association” trip here:

    “What freedoms are we talking about here, Frank? The freedom to lie with impunity? The freedom to grab young girls by the genitals? […] The freedom to refer to women as “dogs,” “fat pigs,” and “ugly”? The freedom to call your opponents “idiots,” “losers,” “liars” and “frauds”? ”

    To the best of my knowledge (I could be ignorant), Mr. Graham is not known for engaging in these behaviors. Of course, there’s enough other things he & his organization have said & done that could be criticized. Perhaps Pastor Peter should stick to those things when addressing Mr. Graham in an open letter.

    Again, I’m holding the Pastor to a higher standard than Eagle, who also criticizes people for their associations with & covering for people like CJ Mahaney, etc. Then again, he’s criticizing *pastors* associations with other *pastors*.

    At any rate, while I believe that pastors can & should be free to speak about politics, the extent to which the mega-church evangelicals are involved-intertwined with political power these days is worth discussing. I’m ambivalent about it. It seems laudable to want to make society better & have a voice in it. It doesn’t seem laudable when it’s a power-and-influence grab.

    Liked by 1 person

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