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State NAACP head calls Billy Graham political ads "hypocritical"

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Monday, a group of pastors and community leaders gathered with the president of the North Carolina NAACP to speak out against recent full page advertisements taken out in multiple newspapers by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

"We're evangelicals too," said Rev. Dr. William Barber, the head of the NC NAACP. Barber said Rev. Franklin Graham and his famous father, American evangelist Rev. Billy Graham are trying to push a particular political agenda by acting as the voices of American evangelicals.

Barber read from what he called an open letter to Franklin Graham.

"Those of you in the so-called ultra-conservative tradition say so little about what God says so much, and so much about what God says so little," said Barber.

He said recent ads taken out in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and numerous other newspapers don't tell the whole story of Christianity and the evangelical vote.

"We regret that some members of the NAACP find issue with the recent ads sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), a statement from the organization sent to WBTV on Monday night said.

"The content of the ads speaks for itself, and we readily acknowledge the campaign does not include every concern other groups and organizations may have liked it to address," the statement continued.

"However it does reference specific biblical values about which Mr. Graham has spoken -- recently and in the past -- encouraging people to vote for candidates who would 'support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman, protect the sanctity of human life, and defend our religious freedoms."

The ads are signed "Billy Graham, Montreat, NC" and say in part, "I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman."

Barber called the theology behind the ads "hollow at best, and hypocritical and heretical at worst." He called on voters to consider other issues such as education, health care, and taking care of the poor. He said the Grahams paid too much attention to the issues of gay marriage and abortion, which Barber called "a woman's right to choose."

In that area, Pastor Earl McBride of Charlotte's new Uplift Christian Center disagrees with Barber.

"I do agree with Dr. Graham that those are very important issues," said McBride, who is opposed to same sex marriage and abortion and agrees with supporting Israel no matter what.

McBride is a member of a national group called Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP). The group is currently fighting against President Barack Obama's support of gay marriage.

McBride said he agrees with the NAACP that more attention must be placed on biblical issues such as fighting for justice and caring for the poor, and he hopes voters will look at each candidate's total package before making a decision.

"Who do you feel in total supports the beliefs that you have as it pertains to the Christian faith?" said McBride.

"Certainly there are any number of topics about which other individuals and organizations in this country feel strongly and may prefer to discuss," BGEA's statement on Monday night said.

"We respect their right to use their voices and public forums to do so. These ads have been paid for by a large number of donors who have lent their support to this effort."

Copyright 2012 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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