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
Reverend 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 are 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, Va.: "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."
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 Reverend Jerry
Falwell, who once blamed the 9/11 terrorist attacks on
gays and lesbians, among others. "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's 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. (AP)