• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Franklin Graham Pentagon Disinvite Controversy

Billy Graham is has always been discrete about his prejudices: his dislike of American Jews only came to light years after he famously told Richard Nixon that they “don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country”, and when plotting an anti-Catholic attack on Kennedy in 1960 he kept very much in the shadows (a hapless Norman Vincent Peale ended up taking the flak for it). However, it would be unduly harsh to suggest that these ugly incidents somehow expose the “true” Graham – the man’s generous temperament and obvious sociability clearly transcend (or, if you’re not convinced of that, at least deflect attention from) these unhappy failings, which is one reason why he is held in general affection and regard.

His son Franklin, by contrast, lacks his father’s grace – instead, here is a man who can’t help but to wear his contempt on his sleeve. Islam, we are informed, is “a very wicked and evil religion”; recently he appeared to suggest that American Muslim men only refrain from beating their wives because US law restrains them from practising “true Islam” (although in the same breath he assured us that “I love the people of Islam”).

As is being widely reported, he has now been disinvited from a Pentagon prayer day because of his public statements on Islam. The AP reported last week:

Evangelist Franklin Graham’s invitation to speak at a Pentagon prayer service has been rescinded because his comments about Islam were inappropriate, the Army said Thursday.

…Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins said Graham’s remarks were “not appropriate.”

…The Military Religious Freedom Foundation had raised the objection to Graham’s appearance, citing his past remarks about Islam.

Collins said earlier this week that the invitation to attend the National Day of Prayer event at the Pentagon wasn’t from the military but from the Colorado-based National Day of Prayer Task Force, which works with the Pentagon chaplain’s office on the prayer event.

Critical responses have been predictable. Sarah Palin has sought to downplay Franklin’s remarks while suggesting that the disinvitation is anti-Christian prejudice:

His comments in 2001 were aimed at those who are so radical that they would kill innocent people and subjugate women in the name of religion.

 Are we really so hyper-politically correct that we can’t abide a Christian minister who expresses his views on matters of faith?

Others – such as Doug Giles (these days famous as the father of Hannah) – suggest that Franklin’s diatribes are simply “the truth” and that this is a “PC” attack on a “distinguished Christian minister and son of an American evangelical treasure”. CAIR was also opposed to Graham’s invite, so for Pam Geller this is more evidence of the Muslim conspiracy against America (classy as ever, for good measure she throws in the suggestion that CAIR is threatening “another Major Hasan Fort Hood jihad massacre”). One pundit regularly used by OneNewsNow sees the hand of Obama behind it all:

Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis (USA-Ret.) works at the Pentagon and shares the concerns of the others over the direction the Obama administration has taken in dealing with Islam. He points out that this is not the first time Muslims have complained about Franklin Graham appearing at a military prayer event.

“They complained when Franklin Graham was there [at the Pentagon] in 2003, too — but I really think what’s behind this is the change of administration,” he suggests.

“I don’t think this would have happened back during the Bush administration,” Maginnis explains. “It’s only because of President Obama’s, I suppose, desire to ingratiate himself to the Islamic world that we began to see references to Islam in our strategic documents removed.”

There have also been threats: a certain crank named Darren Naath has warned the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Mikey Weinstein that he will “bring you down and to ensure your organization is boycotted from any contacts with the U.S. Military”, and that he “will be making a request to appear before Congress hopefully on FoxNews to have you boycotted”; the comments section of the MRFF website has epistles such as “I have a son in special forces who would love just a few minutes with you…anyway to get in touch with personally?” (Weinstein’s activism has brought him threats and abuse previously, including a death curse from Gordon Klingenschmitt; Ed Brayton has chronicled many such communicationss).

The National Day of Prayer Task Force, meanwhile, has decided to withdraw from the event:

[John] Bornschein, executive director of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, explains that although the prayer event is sponsored by the Army chaplains, the organization would help by providing resources and speakers. But when the announcement came that Graham had been disinvited, the task force pulled out of the Pentagon event.

At Talk to Action, the MRFF’s Chris Rodda points out that the issue actually goes beyond Graham’s comments:

Even if Graham had never uttered a single disparaging word against the religion of Islam, his invitation would still have been in violation of several Department of Defense regulations. As explained in the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s (MRFF) letter to the Secretary of Defense demanding that Graham be disinvited, the affiliation of the Pentagon’s NDP event with Shirley Dobson’s National Day of Prayer Task Force was in violation of the regulations that strictly prohibit the U.S. military from such endorsements or preferential treatment of a private organization, or “non-federal entity,” regulations which apply across the board to both religious and non-religious organizations, as well as commercial entities.

…MRFF was already working on addressing another National Day of Prayer issue when we were contacted by the members of the Muslim worship community at the Pentagon requesting our help regarding Franklin Graham. This other issue is the scheduled participation of military personnel (i.e., military color guards and military bands) in other official NDPTF events across the country. This participation is not only in violation of the same military regulations cited above regarding non-federal entities, but DoD and individual service branch regulations on uniform wear.

And, of course, there’s also that pesky constitutional issue of the military’s endorsement of a particular religion by participating in NDPTF events. The NDPTF’s message is very clear — no non-Christians need apply.

Graham’s views on Islam have also created some controversy for his Samaritan’s Purse charity, as I blogged here.

11 Responses

  1. You know, there are some people (Gov. Palin, for example) who misuse the term “political correctness.”

    In this case, what Graham said wasn’t just politically incorrect. It was slanderous. It was vile.

    One might even go so far as to call it bearing false witness.

    Once again, what we see is that there is a group of Christians who thinks that if we’re not being afforded special privileges over everyone else that we’re being persecuted.

  2. The Franklin disinvite had absolutely NOTHING to do with free speech or freedom of religion.
    I work at the Pentagon, and his views do not represent mine and I consider them intolerant. There are muslims who work at the Pentagon who consider his views towards their religion hostile. These are government employees, service members, and decorated combat veterans.
    Inviting him to the Pentagon is a disservice to all the Muslims who work there every single day. And no one who works at the Pentagon will have their freedom abridged by Franklin’s absence, either. There are chaplains and a ministry team that serves all faiths and creeds there. The Pentagon is a federal facility, not a public place. You couldn’t protest Franklin’s presence there if you disagreed with his views (like I do) or you’d be arrested. You cannot even enter the Pentagon if the authorites decide not to admit you, and you may be asked to leave at any time.
    The National mall is less than two miles away from the Pentagon; Franklin should get a permit, hold a prayer rally there, in a public place, and anybody who wants to attend can go, from the Pentagon and the rest of the Federal buildings. And people like me, who disagree with his message, would be free to protest his presence.

  3. As Chris Rodda points out, this is not just about Franklin Graham’s statements attacking Islam. The leadership of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which has hijacked the National Day of Prayer, is limited to those who adhere to the Lausanne Covenant. This is because the task force evolved from the National Prayer Committee created by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (LCWE). This is an umbrella missions organization started by Billy Graham in 1974 whose stated goal is to evangelize Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and a billion “Nominal Christians.” The Task Force leadership includes the virulently anti-Catholic C. Peter Wagner, Presiding Apostle of the New Apostolic Reformation who describes both Catholics and Muslims as being blocked from evangelization by a territorial demon named “the Queen of Heaven.” Wagner was one of the original executives of LCWE, serving as chair of its Strategy Working Group.

    I have written more about his at http://www.Talk2action.org and for Zeek, a publication of the Jewish Daily Forward.

  4. UN-AMERICANS FIGHT FRANKLIN GRAHAM !

    What kind of wine has Mikey Weinstein been drinking?
    As an anti-Christian Jewish supremacist and as the president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, he’s doing all he can to create an anti-Jewish backlash and help bring about the predicted endtime Holocaust of Jews that’ll be worse than Hitler’s.
    Neither Falwell, Hagee nor any other Christian initiated this prediction. But Weinstein’s ancient Hebrew prophets did.
    In the 13th and 14th chapters of his Old Testament book, Zechariah predicted that after Israel’s rebirth ALL nations will eventually be against Israel and that TWO-THIRDS of all Jews will be killed!
    Malachi revealed the reasons: “Judah hath dealt treacherously” and “the Lord will cut off the man that doeth this.”
    Haven’t evangelicals generally been the best friends of Israel and persons perceived to be Jewish? Then please explain the hate-filled back-stabbing by David Letterman (and Sandra Bernhard, Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher etc.) against followers of Jesus such as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.
    Weinstein wouldn’t dare assert that citizens on government property don’t have freedom of speech or press freedom or freedom to assemble or to petition the government.
    But God-hater Weinstein maliciously wants to eliminate from government property the “free exercise” of religion – especially by evangelicals – a freedom found in the same First Amendment. Significantly, this freedom was purposely listed FIRST by America’s founders!
    And Weinstein wouldn’t try to foist “separation of church and state” on strongly-Jewish Israel, but he does try to foist this non-Constitution-mentioned phrase on strongly-Christian America.
    In light of Weinstein’s Jewish protectionism and violently anti-Christian obsession, Christians in these endtimes should be reminded of Jesus’ warning in Mark 13:9 (see also Luke 21:12) that “in the synagogues ye shall be beaten.”
    Maybe it’s time for some modern Paul Reveres to saddle up and shout “The Yiddish are Coming!”

    PS – Some, like Weinstein, are so treacherously anti-Christian they will even join hands at times with enemies, including Muslims, in order to silence evangelicals. It was Weinstein, BTW, who put pressure on the Pentagon to dis-invite Franklin Graham from speaking there on the National Day of Prayer!
    PPS – Weinstein is an echo of the anti-Christian, anti-American Hollywood which for a century has dangled every known vice before young people. We seriously wonder how soon the lethal worldwide “flood of filth” (global harming!) that Hollywood has created will engulf and destroy itself and help to bring to power the endtime Antichrist (a.k.a. the Man of Sin and the Wicked One)!

    • Usually I delete anti-Semitic rants, but I think this one is worth keeping as a example of what’s lurking under the surface in part of the Christian Right.

    • You might want to step up the meds a bit, Sue.

      Seriously.

  5. When I posted the above about a Darren Naath, I failed to validate the authenticity of the sender and the comments above. I have received many emails from individuals with negative feedback on various comments to the event relating to the National Day of Prayer. However, I apologize for not validating the information as the email sent to me from Darren Naath comes from a public email website which possibly could have come from anyone. Please accept my sincere apologies, there was no intent to offend anyone.

  6. Researching the background of Mikey Weinstein, his goal is to suppress Christianity all together in the military. He is seeking to remove all Chaplin’s from all U.S. military bases all around the world (good luck with that). Mikey Weinstein is a Jesus basher. When it came to the National Day of Prayer, he did not want Graham at the Pentagon, however this asshole Mikey Weinstein did not oppose other military religious leaders from being there which demonstrates his need to do away with Christians. I don’t agree with some of the comments here saying Muslims are terrorists, that is out right false. Muslims are a nationality and not a religion. However, it is true that Islam is not recognized as a religion, rather a terrorist cult that is out to destroy others, and they will kill their own kind to make it happen. Example is FOI (Fruit of Islam) that protect the Nation of Islam, their goal is to kill in the name of their God (who is in hell burning). Those are not my words, rather theirs. I too asked Mikey Weinstein a question on why he supports Islam considering it’s recognized as a terrorist cult. The reply I received was similar to the one others above received. Just goes to show you cannot carry on a conversation with an Islam supporter or reason with them, because their mind is set to destroy. But there is a thread from Mr. Weinstein saying that he could not validate the authenticity of the emails from someone because they come from public email accounts, which could potentially come from anyone using anyone’s name. So in reason, this thread simply doesn’t make sense. I did a Google search on the person above of Mr. Naath and Mr Darren Naath does not live in Michigan, nor does he live in the U.S.. So Ed Brayton, Mikey Weinstein and their supporters need to get their facts straight and begin validating what they receive otherwise they may face lawsuits. I emailed Mikey Weinstein on June 11th asking if he could please validate the authenticity of the person who sent the email so we may follow up with him. As of today no response from Mr Weinstein. All in all folks, Christian threats mean nothing because they don’t follow through. Islam threats on the other hand are lethal. The person who uses someone elses name disagrees with him, or his way of thinking so they use their name to hide behind their own identity. I would love for someone to create a duplicate website of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, in the end you have to admit, it would be amusing. And as for Michael Heath above, Mr Weinstein is not out to protect religion, rather to suppress it from the U.S. military otherwise he would not be out on the bases talking to Generals to have Chaplins removed, so you are speaking through your ass on this one, you have to admit this thread is pretty amusing considering their is zero proof on the authenticity of any emails regarding any thing here :-) As for military on the bases Michael Heath, it is by choice for any military personnel to participate in a church gathering, not a requirement. Even by choice Mr. Weinstein and people like yourself are trying to suppress it – won’t happen :-)

  7. […] to light only by chance decades after he expressed ugly views on the subject. His son Franklin, in contrast, is openly contemptuous of Islam, which he famously denounced “as a very wicked and evil […]

  8. […] kind of conservative rally, but the photo – presumably engineered by his son Franklin, who lacks his father’s disarming personal qualities – works against Graham’s long-standing positioning as a […]

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