Graham Speaks Out On Islam
The Rev. Franklin Graham concedes that he's not the diplomat his famous evangelist father is, and he doesn't mince words about Islam. "I have many Muslim friends," he says on a visit to Washington, "but I want the people of this country to know that the god of Islam is not the Christian god. The god of Islam is not a father. The god of Christianity was the father of Jesus Christ.
"There's a mood in this country that we'll believe a generic belief. That is not acceptable. Political correctness has run amok in this country." The 50-year-old evangelist - the fourth child of the Rev. Billy Graham, who has preached to more people than any man in history - is making his dislike of certain Islamic practices known far and wide. The other night on Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes," he said the Koran preaches violence and that Islamic extremism is "a greater threat than anyone's willing to speak [of]." The next night, while signing copies of his latest book, "The Name," at a downtown Barnes & Noble, Mr. Graham said God had blessed the United States because of the nation's Christian heritage. "This country was not built by Hindus, nor Muslims, nor atheists," he said. "It was built by Christian men and women."
Seated at a black wooden table, wearing a black jacket and matching cowboy boots, Mr. Graham signed his books with a black marker. He told about 10 listeners that Christians should get involved with AIDS victims and steer clear of extramarital sex.
"We need a sexual education program that warns young people of the hell they'll create with their own bodies," he said. "Outside of marriage, sex kills." He cites his own experience; he was "sexually active" before his 1974 marriage to his wife, Jane.
He repented his rebellious past, he said, and founded Samaritan's Purse, a Christian aid group. Over the past few years, he has increasingly been filling in for his ailing father, including the delivery of the opening prayer at the 2001 inauguration of President Bush. He and the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who delivered the benediction, were both criticized by nonbelievers for praying, as Christian clergymen do, in the name of Jesus Christ.
The president was later sued over those prayers, he said, by Michael Newdow, the California atheist whose lawsuit against public schools regarding the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance won a favorable ruling in June from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"[Harvard law professor] Alan Dershowitz said I alienated millions by praying in the name of Jesus Christ," Mr. Graham said. "In what other name should I pray? If a Hindu president was being inaugurated, he said, that president could have summoned a clergyman to pray in the name of Hindu gods. After the September 11 attacks by Islamist terrorists, Mr. Graham criticized Islam as a religion that promotes violence in his public statements. In October, at the dedication of a chapel in Wilkesboro, N.C., he referred to Islam as "wicked, violent and not of the same God." After NBC News broadcast those remarks a month later, the evangelist modified them slightly. "I am not attacking Muslims," he said. "But how come the Muslim clerics have not gone to ground zero and had a prayer vigil and apologized to the nation in the name of Islam?"
If the terrorists had been Catholic, Pope John Paul II would have not only apologized but would have pledged assistance for the victims, he said. "But where are the Muslim clerics? When people say this is a 'peaceful religion,' don't tell me that. When a suicide bomber straps on a bomb, that's not peaceful. The Baptists are not doing that. Neither are the Pentecostals." Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which closely monitors public comments about Islam, says Mr. Graham's comments are "not mainstream" and wishes Mr. Bush, a Methodist, would publicly repudiate Mr. Graham, a Baptist.
"The president needs to speak out," Mr. Hooper said. "These are his people. If he said, 'Knock it off, you are hurting the nation's interest by setting up a civilizational conflict,' they would. The president needs to distance himself from such bigoted comments." He said he had tried to talk to Mr. Graham, who says he does not intend to ever talk to the Muslim group. "CAIR wanted to bring a group of people to convert me to their point of view," Mr. Graham says. "I don't have time for that."
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