Evangelist Franklin Graham sees ’revival’ for New Orleans in Katrina’s aftermath
By STEVE SZKOTAK
Associated Press Writer
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Evangelist Franklin Graham said Tuesday that Hurricane Katrina could lead to a spiritual rebirth of a sinful New Orleans.
Graham, the son and designated successor of the Rev. Billy Graham, said he doesn’t believe the devastating storm was a punishment from God for what he sees as the city’s ties to satanic worship and sexual perversion.
“I’m not saying that God used this storm as a judgment,” Graham said.
But he said the city’s Mardi Gras revelry and ties to voodoo were adverse to Christian beliefs.
“New Orleans has been known for years as a party town,” Graham said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from his office in Boone, N.C. “It is a city that has strong ties to the gay and lesbian movement, and these types of things.”
On Monday, Graham delivered a similar message in an appearance in Lynchburg: “There’s been satanic worship. There’s been sexual perversion. God is going to use that storm to bring revival. God has a plan. God has a purpose.”
Graham’s comments, reported by The News & Advance of Lynchburg, were made at Thomas Road Baptist Church’s Super Conference 2005 at Liberty University. Both the church and the university were founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell.
“The good news is that God loves sinners,” said Graham.
Graham said he has prayed with clergy in New Orleans for deliverance from “this dark spiritual cloud,” and he sees signs of promise as churches “black and white work hand in hand” to restore the city.
His Samaritan’s Purse organization is working in five communities in Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana, including New Orleans. He said volunteers were distributing 200 trailer homes in Louisiana. The organization has been criticized for delivering gift bags to displaced children that include Christian tracts and a stuffed lamb that plays “Jesus Loves You.”
On Sunday, New Orleans’ historic St. Louis Cathedral held its first Sunday Mass since the hurricane, and Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes suggested the city would rebuild as a community with a stronger moral thread, free of racial tension and rampant self-indulgence. The Roman Catholic leader reassured the congregation that God did not cause the hurricane to punish evildoers.