Woman Claims Franklin Graham Pushed Her To Reconcile With Abusive Husband


Naghmeh Panahi claimed during a conference last May on abuse in churches how the Evangelist Franklin Graham allegedly pushed her to reconcile with her abusive husband.

Recently, the #ChurchToo Movement reignited since the report of sexual abuse escalated in Southern Baptist Convention. Sexual violence activists were sharing past stories of abused individuals to highlight how hard it was to open up in a church about their stories, including the uproar in 2018 against Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson's attempt to urge an abused woman to return to her husband.

Two days after Panahi recounted her abuse experience with his ex-husband Pastor Saeed Abedini at a conference, the SBC's sexual abuse broke out in the news, The Post reported. She also shared how Graham encouraged them to undergo marriage counseling after she reported her former husband's abuse.

Though Graham already expressed his concern about the SBC's abuse report, Panahi's story aimed to provide a picture of how a powerful figure in American religious culture reacted to allegations of sexual assault, according to The Post.

The report indicated that Graham said in an email, "Our hearts go out to those who have suffered abuse. We must protect and care for everyone in our churches, especially women and children." In contrast to what Panahi said in the media outfit; she said that she didn't feel protected when she came to light and noted that "God cares about the one who's being oppressed. He didn't come to save the institution of marriage."

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Graham Urged Panahi And Abedini To Biblical Counseling

In 2016, Religion News Service reported that Panahi had kept a secret despite her full support to her then-husband, Abedini to be released by Iranian authorities in the fight for international religious freedom. She said that she was physically and emotionally abused for years. Though she wanted him to be released from jail, she wanted him to seek professional help before coming home because she believed that their family would be at risk.

When she revealed her worries, Graham urged her to attend counseling with her husband. According to the recording of their meeting that year, the evangelist encouraged her that there was nothing God can't fix if the two of them want it. Graham disregarded the idea of going to a "godless psychiatrist" for treatment with violence when she objected, stating her husband needed to deal with his aggressive conduct.

Despite pleading guilty to domestic abuse in 2007 and receiving a year's probation, Abedini has always denied any abusive behavior, RNS reported. The couple's divorce filings also revealed a pattern of aggressive behavior. Then in 2018, he was arrested for breaking a no-contact order.

According to RNS, Graham expressed regret in a statement that his advocacy for Biblical reconciliation and God-given healing of their marriage did not succeed. People who came in their support received incomplete, changing, and contradictory information from both of them. He said that when Panahi advocated for their family's reunification, they supported them with everything they needed.

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