The Billy Graham Rule

In a time when the left believe that adult men should be allowed in girls’ locker rooms — as long as they say they ‘identify’ as female — it’s hardly a surprise that they abhor the ‘Billy Graham Rule:

The Billy Graham rule is a practice among some male evangelical Protestant leaders, in which they avoid spending time alone with women to whom they are not married. It is named after Billy Graham, a proponent of the practice, although recently has also been called the Mike Pence rule. It is adopted as a display of integrity, a means of avoiding sexual temptation, to avoid any appearance of doing something considered morally objectionable, and to avoid being falsely accused of sexual harassment, but has been criticized as being sexist.

In one way, one twenty-first century way, it is sexist, in that it assumes that only a woman could make an allegation of sexual harassment against a politician or business leader. These days, a male could make such an allegation, and since it’s pretty difficult to prove a negative, there are some who would find such allegations to be credible . . . or politically useful.

With the phony allegations that the Democrats used to try to torpedo the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the dangers of this cannot be overstated. Roy Moore is not today a senator representing Alabama due to such unproven allegations, though the fact that he admitted to dating underaged girls when he was in his thirties provides at least some corroborating evidence.

Enough evidence to have kept him a private citizen, anyway.

Now comes Robert Foster, a Republican state legislator running for Governor of Mississippi:

The ‘Billy Graham rule’ doesn’t honor your wife. It demeans her — and all women.

By Monica Hesse | July 11, 2019 | 11:57 AM

It’s charitable to first assume our fellow humans are acting in good faith, so let’s first assume that Robert Foster genuinely believes he is the hero of this story. Let’s assume that when the Mississippi gubernatorial candidate denied a female journalist access to his campaign because she is female, he truly saw himself as a bulwark against moral decay. This doesn’t make him right, of course, but it does give context to the problem — albeit a context that should terrify us all.

Larrison Campbell, a female reporter with Mississippi Today, revealed this week that she had asked to shadow Foster for a day on the campaign trail. Two of her colleagues were already following other contenders, but Foster turned down Campbell’s request — unless, that is, she brought along a male colleague. The reason? He obeys the “Billy Graham rule,” refusing to be alone with any woman other than his wife, or, as he put it, “avoid any decision that may evoke suspicion or compromise of our marriage.”

Criticism followed, and Foster bristled at it: “The liberal left . . . can’t believe, that even in 2019, someone still values their relationship with their wife and upholds their Christian Faith,” he tweeted.

But unfortunately, there’s not a single inch of moral high ground achieved via the Billy Graham rule, which purports to honor marriage vows. In similar fashion, Vice President Pence once said he would not dine with a woman to whom he wasn’t married. But rules like these don’t honor your wife. They just presume that your marriage vows are so flimsy that you can’t be trusted to uphold them unless a babysitter monitors you. It’s rather like a thief sanctimoniously announcing that he brings a parole officer every time he goes to the bank to make sure he doesn’t rob it. Good for you, dude, for knowing your own limitations — but it doesn’t make you better than the rest of us, who manage to regularly not steal things even when we’re completely alone.

There’s more at the original, but it’s pretty much the same drivel we heard when Vice President Mike Pence noted that he followed that rule, a claim that the men involved didn’t believe that they could trust themselves not to make a pass at another woman.

That isn’t what it is in the slightest. There is, in Catholic doctrine, something called a near occasion of sin, a situation to be avoided, to, as Jesus taught us to pray, lead us not into temptation. Whether the Reverend Graham, being a Protestant, thought of that part when he enunciated the rule I cannot say.

There is, however, more than that. There is the concept of scandal, in which someone’s words or action which “occasions another’s spiritual ruin.” Mr Foster is avoiding even the appearance that could lead to the loss of reputation of a woman.

But, let’s tell the truth: the real reason is to avoid being set up by someone. No woman can make an accusation of sexual harassment, whether true or false, if there was no opportunity for that to have occurred. I simply believe that Mr Foster did not go far enough: rather than insisting that the reporter in question have a male reporter with her, he should have set the condition that one of his male staffers would always be present, and that everything be on videotape.

Or, as writer Jeremy White offered: “[The rule] presumes either: A) you can’t be trusted or B) women can’t be trusted. Everyone invoking that rule should be prepared to answer which is true.”

Were I the one running for office, I’d answer not just B, but B+: nobody can be trusted. It only makes good sense to avoid situations which can be misconstrued or deliberately falsified to give your enemies a political advantage. That Mrs Hesse understands such things is evidenced by her mentioning of the “court of public opinion” in her previous column.

President Trump recently fell victim to this, as former campaign staffer named Alva Johnson claimed, in a civil suit, that President Trump supposedly forced himself on her and kissed her without her consent. Fortunately, the cameras follow Mr Trump everywhere, and, as Bonchie noted on RedState:

Trump’s lawyers managed to dig up actual video of the encounter and it essentially vindicates the President. In fact, it makes Johnson look like a malicious liar given that the video appears to show her leaning in and actually kissing him on the cheek.

Mr Foster, on the other hand, does not have the cameras following his every move, nor the money the President has to defend himself.

Back to the original article:

The most harmful aspect of the Graham/Pence rule is this: It keeps women out of the room. It says that men can forward their careers via mentoring sessions, golf games and brainstorming lunches, but women cannot. Are we to gather that, because of this rule, Foster would also never employ a female chief of staff, attorney or accountant and never visit a female doctor, dentist or physical therapist, since all of those roles would necessitate occasional alone time?

In one way, Mrs Hesse is correct: this imposes a different burden on women than it does on men. But, you know, men and women are different, though perhaps The Washington Post’s first “gender columnist” wouldn’t believe that. She is, after all, a graduate of the tony all-women’s college Bryn Mawr — tuition, room and board and fees = $66,850 per year — and said about the school, “If you didn’t belong in high school, you will belong at Bryn Mawr.”¹

Of course, Mrs Hesse had to make a snarky crack about Mr Foster’s sex life, about which she presumably knows nothing.

However, the solution to that problem is the one I suggested: don’t trust anybody you don’t know, male or female, not to have a knife ready for your back. And when it comes to reporters — the proximate cause of Mrs Hesse’s ire — never trust any of them. It is their business, their mission in life, to uncover the story that candidates don’t want told, the secret candidates want to keep.


¹ – As it happens, I was supervising a concrete project at Bryn Mawr in 2004, when Mrs Hesse may have been there. Beautiful campus.
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