In a brave op-ed, Billy Graham's granddaughter calls on evangelical Christians to stop supporting Trump.
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Donald Trump's presidency has exposed some remarkable hypocrisy within the evangelical Christian movement.

The group, which once claimed to be the backbone of America's "moral majority" made up of "family values" voters, have given their full support to a crass and cruel man whose narcissism has absolutely nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Astonishingly , he's gained their support without showing any real understanding of Christianity or The Bible. Who can forget the time he was unable to name a single verse from his "favorite book" of The Bible?



Trump unable to name one verse from "favorite book" The Bible www.youtube.com

Despite this, 72% of white evangelical Christians support the president, according to a poll conducted by Pew Research,

Franklin Graham, evangelist and son of the man who essentially founded the movement, Billy Graham, believes Donald Trump's election was divine intervention.

"I think God was behind the last election," Graham told conservative news site The Western Journal.

Evangelicals praise the president for appointing conservative judges and aggressively supporting the pro-life movement while turning a blind eye to his many failings as a politician and a man.

Would Jesus separate children from families at the border? Would the king of kings tolerate Trump's pathological lying? Would Christ support Trump's hostility towards women and people of color? Should Trump be forgiven for his unquenchable greed?

So why have evangelicals seemingly abandoned their beliefs to support Trump? A Stanford study found that people's political beliefs tend to be more firmly held than their religious faith. So when they come into conflict, people will follow their political beliefs, then they rationalize the rejection of their religious side.

An indeed, many evangelicals have rationalized their support for Trump by calling him an unlikely vessel or "someone God has chosen for an important historical purpose, despite not looking like — or having the religious character of — an obvious man of God."

Which is why it makes it all the more remarkable that Billy Graham's granddaughter, Jerushah Duford, has called out evangelical hypocrisy in a powerful USA Today ope-ed, entitled: "I'm Billy Graham's granddaughter. Evangelical support of Donald Trump spits on his legacy."

In the article, she calls for evangelical women to stop criticizing Trump in hushed tones and to raise their voiced against him in the run up to the election. She also says it's necessary for the church to reject Trump to regain a shred of credibility.

Duford says Trump's election made her feel "homeless" and "disoriented" as she watched her church turn "its eyes away from everything it teaches." What first began as a gentle tug at her spirit, grew to become a feeling she could no longer stomach.

"The gentle tug became an aggressive yank, for me, earlier this year, when our country experienced division in the form of riots, incited in great part by this president's divisive rhetoric. I watched our president walk through Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., after the tear gassing of peaceful protesters for a photo op," Duford writes.


"He held a Bible, something so sacred to all of us, yet he treated that Bible with a callousness that would offend anyone intimately familiar with the words inside it," she continued. "He believed that action would honor him and only him. However, the church, designed to honor God, said nothing."

She also spoke of the damage that the church's support for the president has caused its reputation.

"It seems that the only evangelical leaders to speak up praised the president, with no mention of his behavior that is antithetical to the Jesus we serve. The entire world has watched the term 'evangelical" become synonymous with hypocrisy and disingenuousness," she writes.

"My faith and my church have become a laughing stock, and any attempt by its members to defend the actions of Trump at this time sound hollow and insincere," she writes.

Duford called for fellow evangelicals to get their priorities straight by putting God before politics and believes that doing so would be empowering to women in the faith.

"The God we serve empowers us as women to represent Him before our churches. We represent God before we represented any political party or leader," She writes. "When we fail to remember this, we are minimizing the role He created for us to fill."

"Jesus loved women; He served women; He valued women. We need to give ourselves permission to stand up to do the same," she continued.

Duford's op-ed is a bold and brave statement for an influential figure in a movement that has become synonymous with the Republican Party to nake. But, according to Duford, that type of bravery is what's demanded of her by her faith.

"I chose to listen to my spirit to speak out. Not because doing so feels comfortable, but because it feels like the right way to leverage the voice God has empowered me with," she writes.

"Now I am asking all of you who feel as I do, to embrace your inner tug, and allow it to lead you to use the power of your God-given voice and not allow Trump to lead this country for another four years," the piece concludes.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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