Mississippi GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Defends ‘Billy Graham Rule’

Mississippi State Rep. Robert Foster, one of the three GOP gubernatorial candidates, is defending the “Billy Graham Rule,” which he cited when he denied a Mississippi Today reporter’s request to shadow him alone on a 15-hour trip.

Foster told The Hill that before deciding to run for office, he and his wife agreed to follow the “Billy Graham Rule,” a common practice among many Christian pastors, in which they avoid being alone in private spaces with a member of the opposite sex to whom they are not married. Vice President Mike Pence has been fiercely criticized for adhering to the rule.

When Foster’s campaign manager informed reporter Larrison Campbell that she would need to have a male colleague accompany them on the trip, Campbell and her editor refused, calling the request “sexist.”

“I put my wife and my Christian beliefs above anyone else’s feelings or opinions,” Foster said. “I did not want there to be a perception that I was riding with another female and that something promiscuous was going on. … In my truck, we go by my rules.”

During an appearance on “The Story” with Martha MacCallum, Foster said pressure from others would not convince him to deviate from his convictions: “Their feelings and their concerns about being discriminated against do not trump my vow I made to my wife and my belief I should not be alone with another woman who I’m not married to.”

Meanwhile, Franklin Graham said in a Facebook post: “Some critics are upset and are calling the ‘Billy Graham Rule’ sexist, but I believe it’s just common sense, and I appreciate Robert Foster’s desire to honor his wife. … I think this couple is wise to try to protect their marriage.”

Since Foster’s refusal to ride alone with Campbell, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., also a Mississippi GOP gubernatorial candidate, has said that he too avoids being alone with a woman who is not his wife.

“I just think in this day and time, appearances are important and transparency’s important. … I just think it’s common sense.”

Photo: Robert Foster Facebook