Evangelist Franklin Graham has weighed in on the debate surrounding the legalization of marijuana and urged Christians to "vote against these laws that are harmful to youth, to our nation, and to our future."
According to a new Gallup poll, the percentage of American adults who say they smoke marijuana has nearly doubled in three years, with one in eight adults, or 13%, admitting to they use the drug. It also showed that 43% of adults say they have tried the drug, an increase from 38% just three years ago.
In light of these rising numbers, Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, took to Facebook to point out that recreational use of marijuana has been legalized in four states (Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington State) and will be on the ballots in five more in November (California, Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona and Nevada).
"But if Christians had voted, maybe this wouldn't even be an issue," he wrote. "I pray that Christians by the millions who didn't vote in the last election will turn out to vote this fall. Let's vote against these laws that are harmful to youth, to our nation, and to our future."
The Gallup poll, based on telephone interviews with about 1,000 randomly chosen adults, found that age and religiosity affect how likely one is to use marijuana. For example, one in five adults younger than 30 is a pot smoker: at least double the rates of each older age group.
In addition, the rate of marijuana use among those who seldom or never attend a religious service is 14%, compared with 7% of those who go to church monthly and 2% of weekly churchgoers.
The report notes that both major-party presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have voiced support for medicinal marijuana but say they defer to the states in terms of policymaking on both recreational and medicinal marijuana use.
Graham, 64, has previously shared his thoughts regarding the marijuana debate. Earlier this year, he hit back at defenders of the drug who argue that "God made it so it must be okay," by arguing that just because God made something doesn't mean that every substance or creature in question is entirely harmless.
To illustrate his point, Graham quipped that he doesn't personally plan to pick up any rattlesnakes anytime soon and proceeded to discuss his views on the dangers of cannabis.
"Marijuana has been proven to be addictive, has many side effects, and can be harmful," he said. "We've all seen the results it can bring when misused."
Graham concluded his message by asking anyone who is "addicted to tobacco, marijuana or other drugs" to ask God for help and guidance in overcoming those issues.
"The Bible tells us that, 'God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life,'" Graham continued, offering to personally connect anyone who makes a decision to make a life change with one of his staff members who he said will assist with resources and information. "Just ask Him to forgive you of your sins and take your life and make it new."
Graham is currently touring all 50 state capitals this year to hold prayer rallies to encourage Christians to get involved in the political process. This week, he will be in Augusta, Maine; Montpelier, Vermont on Wednesday; and Albany, New York on Thursday.