Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), was in China at the invitation of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council, and the China Association of International Friendly Contacts when the May 12 earthquake occurred. Graham, son of international evangelist Billy Graham, told the Associated Press that he opposes illegal missionary work at this summer's Beijing Olympics, saying, "I would not support any illegal activity at all." Groups such as China Aid and Open Doors blasted Graham for his comments.
What is your position regarding evangelism in China?
There are two issues. There's the evangelism that the church in China does. I'm not addressing that. What I'm addressing are outsiders coming into China for the Olympics. And my caution is that if people are coming on tourist visas, let's say, from the United States, and want to get involved in the evangelistic efforts for the Olympics, they need to be aware of Chinese law. For one, they can get in trouble. Two, they could even jeopardize the church. So my caution is, be aware of the law. And an Associated Press reporter asked me if I supported evangelism during the Olympics by outside groups. I would not be supportive of outsiders coming into the country and breaking Chinese law. That's what I'm talking about.
I'm not talking about the Chinese Christians, the Chinese church doing what it does. I would not attempt to tell them what to do or how to do it. The church in China has been growing pretty rapidly without anybody's help. So I don't think a few Christian groups coming into China is going to make a hill of beans worth of difference during ...