Will Franklin Graham’s new bank hide gay support? UPDATED

Timothy Kincaid

June 9th, 2015


Yesterday, Franklin Graham announced that he was switching the accounts of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and the charity Samaritan’s Purse away from Wells Fargo because they “promote sin and stand against Almighty God’s laws and His standards”.

It would be hard to find a bank with a longer and stronger commitment to the LGBT community than Wells Fargo. They were there early and they’ve weathered boycotts and attacks during the years in which the right wing actually had some remaining moral authority. And they have made a concerted effort to make certain that gay people are not just a target market, but part of the broader Wells Fargo family.

Currently Wells Fargo is running a television ad by the bank in which a same-sex couple learns sign language in order to tell a deaf girl that they would be her new mommies. And this ad is not just on gay websites, but in the regular rotation of their media visibility.

It is to this broader visibility that Franklin Graham objects.

Graham has made clear that he does not object to businesses that serve gays and lesbians. (Charlotte Observer)

“There’s lots of businesses out there that do business with gay people,” he said. “That’s fine.”

But he doesn’t want to see same-sex couples on his television. He doesn’t want it “shoved down his throat”.

So it is with interest that we learn the identity of the new bank providing services to the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and Samaritan’s Purse. It turns out to be a North Carolina native, BB&T Bank.

At first glace, it would appear that BB&T also “promotes sin and stands against Almighty God’s laws and His standards”. They do have a history of support for community events.

Several websites are declaring that BB&T is “the sponsor of Miami Beach Gay Pride”. That does not appear to be strictly correct.

They do, however, have an entry in the parade and are “Platinum Sponsors” of the event, the fourth tier of support and likely a significant contribution. BB&T also hosted an event at one of their Miami Beach branches in February which honored long-term same-sex couples. (Herald)

BB&T Bank, in partnership with Miami Beach Gay Pride, will host a fundraising reception to honor the popular “Legacy Couples” program established during the first Miami Beach Gay Pride in 2009 and held every year since. Legacy Couples are featured guests of the Miami Beach Gay Pride parade and are celebrated for their committed relationships of 10 years or longer. Special guests at the event will be Frank Petrole and Marc Rudick, together for 55 years, and Mary Maguire and Jackie Emmett, together for 53 years.

But sponsoring a pride entry is not the same as running an inclusive commercial on Franklin Graham’s television set. And this makes me curious as to whether BB&T has made assurances to Graham that they will keep their pro-gay visibility solely to gay venues.

I have emailed the company to inquire as to whether they made these or any other assurances to Graham.

* – Have there been any assurances provided to Franklin Graham, either in relation to your advertising or any other matters?

* – Does your general (not targeted) advertising strategy include using same-sex couples in the future?

I recognize the value of targeted advertising and appreciate BB&T’s support.

When Wells Fargo began their support for the community, it was narrowly targeted. They did not run gay inclusive advertising in general media. In the 80’s supportive companies didn’t even show gay people in the ads they ran in gay publications.

But while narrowly targeted advertising has its place, it’s no longer the 80’s. And that a bank has joined the long long list of companies that want our business is great, but it’s not enough.

If BB&T has promised Franklin Graham that gay people will remain invisible outside of gay venues, that would concern me. Should that prove to be true, perhaps our community and those who support us can reconsider their banking options. Wells Fargo is but one of many many financial institutions which are happy to include gay people as part of the broad and diverse fabric of everyday life.


In a Charlotte Observer article, BB&T clarified their position on the highly controversial issue of including gay people in advertising just as if they were socially acceptable and equal to everyone else.

BB&T spokeswoman Cynthia Williams said in a statement to the Observer that the bank “has a strong history” of sponsoring community events to help the lender reach prospects and clients. “This does not imply endorsement of these organization’s positions on any or all political or social issues,” she said.

“Our mission is to help our clients achieve economic success and financial security regardless of their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. … BB&T embraces diversity and inclusion for our associates and in all aspects of our business. However, we do not take formal positions on non-banking or social issues.”

Translation: we’re happy to have gay customers and will sponsor their little events, but don’t expect us to approve of the filthy homosexuals. And we most certainly will not be showing any nasty gay couples in our advertising. That would be promoting sin and standing against Almighty God’s laws and His standards.

I’m not calling for a boycott. But, for me personally, if I lived in North Carolina there is no way whatsoever that I would bank with BB&T.


June 9th, 2015

BB&T doesn’t have any branches outside the old Confederacy and Border states, which is telling in itself.

It is also ground zero for “Ayn Rand studies”. Their former CEO retired to Galt’s Gulch in 2010.


June 9th, 2015

Hello all; well this is disheartening to learn, as prior to reading this I was (and still am) currently awaiting a possible call to come in and interview for a teller position with BB&T’s branch in my small eastern NC town. It’s also disheartening to learn, as I am a cisgender homosexual male. I know I want to go into a financial sector position like this rather than work in another get-used-up-while-receiving-zero-credit-for-it, “right to work” retail job, but DAMN this apparent “don’t come to close” attitude towards LGBT people is not good. Take note ladies, gentlemen, allgenders agenders, etc., if you’re in college, STAY there, FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS, and don’t stop til you are walking out of their with a degree! I didn’t, and now this is the story I have to tell as a result. :(


June 9th, 2015

*another consequence appears to be that my spelling capabilities have taken a few hits. woops!


June 10th, 2015

Maybe I need to read the article and the full statement, but it hardly sounds like a condemnation of the LGBT community.

Overall, I don’t expect any bank to be “touchy-feely”.


June 10th, 2015

It’s telling that, when he went looking for a bank that better fit his views, the closest he could find was “we’re a bank, don’t ask us about social issues.”

Joseph Singer

June 11th, 2015

That’s *your* translation. If they don’t support you 100% in the way you want to be supported you write them off. You show a bit of intolerance.


June 14th, 2015

“BB&T doesn’t have any branches outside the old Confederacy and Border states, which is telling in itself.”—Not really. It’s a regional bank.

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