Picture of Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

Franklin Graham Wants Bella Abzug To Speak Up For Women– But There’s Just One Problem

Franklin Graham, in his never-ending quest to define one of the largest religions in the world by minority extremists, is wondering why Bella Abzug is refusing to denounce “Islam’s treatment of women.”

Yesterday he posted on Facebook in response to what I agree, is an outrageous proposal in Pakistan to allow wife-beating. The proposal was submitted by a leader of a Pakistani Islamic council, and while hardly indicative of Islam as a whole, it’s a disgusting proposal that the world should universally condemn.

I join Franklin in condemning this, but sure wish he had stopped at condemning the wife-beating proposal.

By continuing to talk, Franklin makes two critical errors. First, he cannot resist the opportunity to make it seem as if this is representative of all of Islam, which it is not. This shows he’s either being dishonest, or is simply ignorant– take your pick, but neither is good.

Second, instead of simply expressing his own opinion on the matter, he used the opportunity to call out prominent female leaders– asking why they were not speaking up against this. Here’s the full text:

“Where are the Gloria Steinems, the Bella Abzugs, or even the Hillary Clintons, that call themselves champions for women’s rights when it comes to the teachings of Islam? Why aren’t they screaming about the way Islam treats women? The leader of the powerful Council for Islamic Ideology in Pakistan just this week said a husband should be allowed to “lightly beat” his wife. Oh really? According to them, that is permissible if she defies his commands and refuses to dress up per his desires, does not wear a hijab, interacts with strangers, speaks too loudly, or declines other more personal things. And get this—their proposal says using only a “small stick” is necessary to instill fear. Somehow that’s not very comforting is it. Women of the world, Islam wants to put you behind a veil of horror. With true Christianity, women are treated with dignity and respect. Jesus Christ elevated women, and if you put your faith and trust in Him, He will never let you down.”

Normally I would never dare speak for another person. I cannot speak for Gloria Steinem or Hillary Clinton on the matter– they can speak for themselves or not speak for themselves, if they wish.

However, call me bold, but I do feel as if I can perhaps speak for Bella Abzug.

Franklin Graham asks why she isn’t “screaming about the way Islam treats women” and I think I actually have a pretty darn good answer:

Bella Abzug died at the age of 77, way back in 1998. For those slow at math, she’s been dead for 18 years.

So, yeah. I wouldn’t expect someone who has been dead 18 years to be speaking out on proposed policies in Pakistan in 2016. That’d be weird, you know?

So, there you go, Franklin. Why isn’t Bella speaking out against this?

Because she’d dead.


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Picture of Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and earned his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller.

He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus.

It's not the end of the world, but it's pretty #@&% close. Trump's America & Franklin Graham's Christianity must be resisted.

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10 Responses

  1. “With true Christianity […]” Ahh, who would have thought that Franklin Graham was a True Scotsman and an expert on the True Welshmen!

  2. There are “good Christian leaders” right here in the U.S.
    like Michael Pearl and Steve Haymond, who advocate the “light” beating
    of children, even babies, with pieces of plumbing supply line or
    specially designed, “Biblically correct” nylon whips they call
    “chastening rods”
    (https://homeschoolersanonymous.org/2016/05/20/that-christian-man-selling-child-training-whips-is-back/) to make children “obedient.” Many of these selfsame “leaders” encourage an extreme form of patriarchy which all but says that a husband has every right to “discipline” his wife physically and deny her affection, money and even food if she is not sufficiently “submissive” to her husband as the Bible commands (google “Biblical Gender Roles”.)

    Last I checked, not a peep out of Mr. Graham about such disgusting beliefs
    among so-called “Christians.” Yes, these men might be considered
    outliers and extremists in Christianity, but many people outside the
    faith regard the Pearls, Haymonds, and, yes, the Franklin Grahams of the
    world as being representative of all of Christianity, in much the same
    way that Franklin Graham is proclaiming the proposals of one unhinged
    cleric in Pakistan to be representative of all of Islam. Sauce for the

    And by the way, Memo to Mr. Graham: You are really
    showing your age (and the age of your audience) when every feminist
    leader you mention (including Ms. Abzug, rest her soul) is well over
    60. I seriously doubt he could name or even knows anyone younger. I would recommend Mr. Graham read a few things by Amanda Marcotte, Ana Kasparian or even former fundie Valerie Talarico, but I fear the poor man would have a stroke.

  3. Franklin Graham had better not hope activists come back from the grave to address civil rights issues, because I’ve got a feeling he wouldn’t be able to keep what brains he’s got left.

  4. You did not understand what he said. He is not speaking of her specifically but women who come after her, who would walk in her shoes and be like her. It is very clear when he said “THE Bella Abjugs”

  5. It sounds like a way of redirecting from the things that happen here in the US, thus tarnishing the “‘murica” narrative.

  6. I don’t know how much credibility I have to speak as a feminist (someone who attempts to be an ally, sure) but if I may hazard a guess… well… part of it is that you can’t condemn Islam’s treatment of women without also condemning Christianity’s treatment of women.

    One person with political power in Pakistan (where Islam is privileged) is no more representative of Islam than one person with political power in America (where Christianity is privileged) is representative of Christianity. Both have support from their holy texts (however creatively interpreted that support has to be). Both of them can claim to be speaking for their faith.

    So, one good reason is that it would be hypocritical to take Islam to task for one Imam in Pakistan and not hold all of Christianity as horrible for Franklin Graham.

  7. He did say the “Bella Abzugs of the world” as in those who would fill her role, not necessarily her. But there’s enough other things wrong with Franklin “I came back home and got “saved” just as Daddy needed someone to take over and make all that money” Graham says that I’m ok if people tease him about citing a dead woman. This is a man who thinks it make sense to have the first stop at his Dad’s Museum to be a talking cow complaining about how cold Billy’s hands were when he used to milk her in the morning. (no, not making that up)

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