Graham's son not holding back on Islam

By Jim Jones
Special to the Star-Telegram
Posted on Sat, Mar. 25, 2006

When I heard the Rev. Franklin Graham speak in New
Orleans two weeks ago, he focused on proclaiming the
saving power of Jesus Christ with only a hint of
criticism of Islam.

"Muhammad didn't die for your sins," he told thousands
at the New Orleans Arena. "Buddha didn't die for your
sins; Krishna didn't die for your sins. It's Jesus."

But while in New Orleans, Graham again blasted the
Muslim faith under the glare of television lights as
he told ABC's Nightline that he hasn't changed his
mind about Islam, which he called "a very evil and
wicked religion" in 2001.

"I know about Islam," Graham said March 15 on
Nightline. "If people think Islam is such a wonderful
religion, just go to Saudi Arabia and make it your
home. Just live there. If you think Islam is such a
wonderful religion, I mean, go and live under the
Taliban somewhere. I mean, you're free to do that."

Graham, 53, is making a name for himself in the shadow
of his famous father, the Rev. Billy Graham, but he's
doing it in a different way. He's brasher, blunter and
much less politically correct. Unlike his father, who
never uttered a discouraging word against Islam or any
other faith, Franklin Graham has joined Christian
broadcaster Pat Robertson, the Rev. Jerry Falwell and
others as being among the most outspoken against

After Sept. 11, 2001, he told NBC News: "We're not
attacking Islam, but Islam has attacked us. The God of
Islam is not the same God. He's not the Son of God of
the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a
different God, and I believe it is a very wicked and
evil religion."

Graham also has said he disagrees with President
Bush's statements that Islam is a peaceful religion.

In several interviews, Graham has said the Quran, the
holy book of Islam, teaches violence. Also, he says
Muslim leaders have failed to speak out enough in
criticism of Islamic terrorism.

Ibraham Hooper, spokesman for America's largest Islam
advocacy group, the Council on American Islamic
Relations, said Graham is helping divide the faith

"If he's going to step into the role played by his
father, I think he's going to have a very difficult
time," Hooper said this week. "Billy Graham had a long
record in public life, and I have not heard one word
from him in a critical way about Islam or any other
faith. Instead, he positively asserted his own

Hooper said Franklin Graham is paying no attention to
the many efforts by his organization and other Islamic
groups that have denounced suicide bombings and other
Islamic terrorist acts.

Critics say Graham and others making harsh statements
against Islam are creating more danger for Christian
missionaries in Muslim nations and alienating
peace-loving moderate Muslims who could help in the
war on terror.

The Rev. Welton Gaddy, former pastor of Broadway
Baptist Church who now heads Interfaith Alliance, a
Washington, D.C.-based coalition of groups seeking to
counter the influence of religious conservatives, has
been critical of Graham's stance that terrorism is a
part of mainstream Islam.

"Rev. Graham does not see that his method of
interpreting the Quran and his suggestion that it
preaches violence, invites a similar analysis of the
Bible," Gaddy said in a statement after Graham's
earlier criticisms. "Such a method could lead to the
same kind of distortion of Christianity. . . ."

But Graham has many defenders among conservative

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert
Mohler, who was scheduled to lecture and speak in
chapel this week at Southwestern Baptist Theological
Seminary in Fort Worth, appeared last week on The
O'Reilly Factor on Fox News and supported Graham's

Emir Caner, a converted Muslim who now is dean of the
College of Southwestern, the new four-year
undergraduate college at Fort Worth's Southwestern
Baptist Theological Seminary, says he agrees "100
percent" with Graham.

Although his anti-Islamic comments are getting all the
headlines, his ministry should not be judged by those
controversial comments. Although he may never rise to
the stature of his father, who is revered throughout
the world, Franklin Graham is having an effect on his

He has surpassed his father in one area. Since 1979 he
has been running Samaritan's Purse, a worldwide relief
organization that operates in many Muslim nations and
so far has contributed more than $38 million to help
in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast region.

"God loves New Orleans," he proclaimed to the crowds
in the Big Easy. "God loves Louisiana. God loves
Mississippi. God loves Alabama. God loves Texas."

He doesn't talk about Islam unless you ask him. Mainly
he talks, very specifically, about Jesus Christ.
"Jesus can change your life today -- today," he told
me in a brief interview in New Orleans. I think he
meant it.
Jim Jones can be reached at jjones.


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