“A granddaughter of the Rev. Billy Graham, Jerushah Duford is a committed evangelical Christian who describes herself as “pro-life.”
For most of her life, she voted Republican. Yet this year, she is voting for Joe Biden and is encouraging fellow Christians to distance themselves from a president who she says is trying “to hijack our faith for votes.”
“The Jesus we serve promotes kindness, dignity, humility, and this president doesn’t represent our faith,” Duford said.
She made clear to me that she is not speaking for her grandfather, the famous evangelist who died in 2018. But she added: “I think he would be sad. I think his greatest desire had nothing to do with policies but to introduce people to a loving Jesus, and the division this administration has caused I believe has hurt this effort.”
In one sense, Duford is an outlier. About 8 of 10 white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and polling suggests that the great majority will vote for him again in 2020. But Duford is part of a broader movement among some evangelical leaders to distance their faith from Trump, which in turn means interpreting “pro-life” in a broader way. In a sign that some evangelical voters are in play this year, the Biden campaign is advertising heavily on Christian radio stations.
“Mr. President, the days of using our faith for your benefit are over,” declares a video from a Christian group called Not Our Faith. “We know you need the support of Christians like us to win this election. But you can’t have it. Not our vote. Not our faith.”
The Rev. John Huffman, who once was President Richard Nixon’s pastor, said he has voted Republican all his life but has now joined a group called Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden. He said he prays for Trump but sees him as “an immoral, amoral sociopathic liar who functions from a core of insecure malignant narcissism.”
Huffman and others say they are speaking up partly because they fear that Christianity is tarnished and losing ground in the United States because of the strong support Trump receives from many evangelical leaders. (One of them is Duford’s uncle, Franklin Graham, who has claimed that Billy Graham voted for Trump in 2016.) Duford told me her message to the public is, “I’m sorry you have witnessed the same greed and hypocrisy in the church that you see in the world, but this is not what Jesus is about.”