More than 5,000 Christians waving American flags and circulating petitions to change Washington’s bathroom regulations filled the lawn of the west Capitol Campus during a noontime rally Wednesday.
Many traveled for hours in church vans and tour buses to attend the prayer rally held by The Rev. Billy Graham’s son, Franklin.
Graham was in Olympia on Wednesday for the 31st stop on his 50-state 2016 Decision America tour. During the rally, he urged Christians to vote, pray for the nation and live out their faith in every part of their lives.
“I’m not here to tell you who to vote for,” Graham told the crowd. But he told them to choose between the presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, based on who they think stands for biblical principles.
“Which of the two will we, as Christians, have a voice with?” he asked the crowd. “You may have to hold your nose.”
Graham wasn’t the only one at the rally who held that opinion of the major presidential candidates.
Ann Wardlaw, wearing a patriotic dress, described this year’s presidential campaign as “horrible.”
“I don’t like the hatred and animosity between the major candidates,” she said.
Raymond Segres of Olympia said he plans to vote for Trump. “He is for the little people like myself,” he said. “I’m nobody important, so he’s supporting me.”
During the rally, Graham led the crowd in passionate prayers for the country’s leaders and encouraged them to run for local political office.
When Graham said he had driven by the rainbow pride flags flying outside of Olympia’s political offices, parts of the crowd began to boo. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we saw the flag of the church?” he asked, followed by a loud round of applause.
Graham instructed them to “Ask God to forgive our nation’s sins.” He later told the crowd, “Young people today have no clue what God’s standards are.”
He had a solution for how community members could teach young people about those standards. He advised them to join the school board so “when the progressives have a pornographic book, you can stand up and say ‘That’s rubbish.’ Let’s get the Bible in there.”
Dozens of people at the rally asked event-goers to sign petitions to overturn a six-month-old state regulation that allows access to public and private restroom facilities based on someone’s gender identity, not their biological gender.
“I don’t want my privacy violated and I don’t want men in there,” said Kathie Cahoon, who was collecting petition signatures. “Graham’s inspiring us to be part of government and to get our principles reflected in there instead of just progressive ones.”