Franklin Graham Says COVID Vaccine 'Could Possibly Save Your Life'

The evangelical pastor Franklin Graham has urged people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus before it's "too late."

Graham, president of the aid organization Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association set up by his father, told Axios that people should not delay in getting the COVID-19 shot.

Asked by interviewer Mike Allen whether "nothing is more important to you than saving souls," Graham replied: "No, I want people to know that God loves them, he will forgive you and God will accept you into his presence.

"I want people to know that COVID-19 can kill you, but we have a vaccine out there that could possibly save your life. And if you wait, it could be too late."

In a short clip released by Axios on Friday, Graham did not single out any group, such as Christians, who should get the vaccine. The full interview will be shown on Sunday on HBO Max.

Newsweek has contacted the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for further comment.

Rev. Franklin Graham to @mikeallen: “I want people to know that COVID-19 can kill you, but we have a vaccine out there that could possibly save your life. And if you wait, it can be too late.” #AxiosOnHBO

Full episode airs Sunday at 6pm on @HBOMax.

— Axios (@axios) May 14, 2021

Graham, 68, revealed in March that he and his wife Jane had received the vaccine, adding that people should not have to go through what some of his staff and their families had endured after contracting the virus, such as weeks on a ventilator and months in hospital.

His Facebook statement—which included his belief, based on the parable of the Good Samaritan, that Jesus himself would have supported vaccination—was angrily rejected by some of his evangelical supporters, The Charlotte Observer reported.

In just one day, his post received more than 18,000 comments, many of which were outraged or upset at Graham's stance.

In April 2020, Samaritan's Purse opened a field hospital in New York City's Central Park to help people seriously ill with COVID-19.

But Graham accused New York officials of harassment after they criticized his medical organization, which required hospital workers to sign a pledge saying they were Christians who opposed gay marriage.

Mount Sinai Health Systems, which worked with Samaritan's Purse, told state officials medical workers would need to sign a second pledge vowing not to discriminate against patients, The New York Times reported.

Graham insisted that his organization had never discriminated against patients, but said it had a right to "lawfully hire staff who share our Christian beliefs," according to The Hill.

Graham's vocal support for Donald Trump was a boon for the former president, increasing his appeal to the evangelical community, but it landed him in difficulties with some believers after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

A petition set up by the Christian community Faithful America called on Graham to be removed from his posts with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, saying he "did everything he could to support Trump's deadly presidency." The petition has attracted close to 32,000 signatures.

Axios reported on Friday that Graham had recently visited Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

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Franklin Graham in Turlock, California in 2018
Franklin Graham, pictured on May 29, 2018, in Turlock, California, has urged people to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images