|WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. Army rescinded its invitation to evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at the Pentagon on the National Day of Prayer. Muslim civil liberties groups are also pressuring Congress to disinvite Franklin Graham from attending the National Day of Prayer event on Capitol Hill.
Graham, son of Billy Graham and this year's honorary National Day of Prayer Task Force chairman, is being criticized for comments he has made in the past expressing his belief that Islam is a dangerous religion.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman cited Graham’s previous comments that he wants Muslims to know that Jesus Christ died for their sins. Collins said the remarks were “not appropriate,” according to the New York Times.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations pressed the Pentagon to rescind Graham's invitation. Michael Weinstein, founder of MRFF, wrote that the Pentagon choose a more inclusive speaker for the event in a letter to the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on April 19.
In a statement released April 22, Graham said that he regrets that the Army felt it was necessary to rescind their invitation. “I want to express my strong support for the United States military and all our troops. I will continue to pray that God will give them guidance, wisdom and protection as they serve this great country,” Graham said.
During an appearance on Fox News the same day, Graham, president of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse, reiterated a concern for Muslim people worldwide.
"I love Muslim people, and I want Muslims everywhere to know what I know, that God loves us, that He sent His Son Jesus Christ into this world to take our sins and He died for our sins and rose from the grave and that Christ can come into their heart and change them and they can have the hope of eternal life, salvation," Graham said on Fox.
"I want them to know that they don't have to die in a car bomb. They don't have to die in some kind of holy war to be accepted by God, but its through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone," he said.
Graham said that while he loves the people of Islam, he does not agree with the religion, describing true Islam's treatment of women as "horrid." The evangelist also said his son is serving his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan with the U.S. military, and he prays for the military every day.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said that the decision to remove Graham is further evidence that the leadership of our nation's military has been impaired by the politically correct culture being advanced by this Administration.
Perkins called Graham a man of courage and integrity whose deep convictions should not be a pretext for denying him the opportunity to share the gospel.
"For those Christian leaders who have avoided the controversy of political issues, saying they just wanted to preach the gospel,” said Perkins, “This should be a wake up call!"
Perkins was uninvited to speak at a prayer luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base earlier this year due to his expressed opposition to President Obama's call to allow homosexuals to serve in the military.
The Army's decision comes one week after a federal judge ruled that a law setting a National Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment's prohibition on government establishment of religion. The Obama administration has announced that it will appeal the ruling, which Graham said is based on puzzling logic.
Graham said that no judge can stop Americans from praying for their country, and he expects millions to join him in praying for the president and other elected leaders as well as "this unjust judge," that God would give them wisdom.