CTV (Canada), Nov. 27, 2002
In an interview with CTV’s Canada AM, Swaggart said Bush was “dead wrong” when he said that the Koran was a book that promoted peace and not violence in a bid to express U.S. empathy for Muslims around the world.
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“It is anything but that and I feel like the president is really deceiving the people whenever he makes that statement,” Swaggart said from his home in Louisiana.
The televangelist is one of a handful of Christian leaders who have come under the spotlight for their comments about the growing rift between Christianity and Islam.
Last week, a spokesman for the prominent U.S. Muslim group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) accused Swaggart and his colleagues Rev. Franklin Graham, Rev. Jerry Falwell, and Rev. Pat Robertson of being the “equivalent” to Osama bin Laden in trying to start a religious war.
“It’s the incitement we’re talking about,” spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said. “It’s not Jerry Falwell throwing a hand grenade into a mosque.”
Falwell recently called the Islamic prophet Muhammad a terrorist during an interview on the CBS news program 60 Minutes.
Swaggart denied inciting a religious war, but told CTV that there is “not too much” of a relationship between Christianity and Islam and it should stay that way.
“I do not personally feel that there can be any amalgamation whatsoever between the religion of Islam and Christianity,” he said.
Swaggart did soften his anti-Islamic stance, however, by apologizing for saying that the U.S. should expel all Muslim students on visas. He said the statement was a knee-jerk reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks.
“That statement was very much inappropriate and to be frank with you it will not be repeated,” he told CTV. “It was wrong.”
But Swaggart and his ilk are sticking by their criticism of the violence of Islam or what they call its erroneous theological claims.
“I can not accept Islam as a bona fide religion especially if I believe the Bible in which I do,” Swaggart said.
He also rejected the argument that the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan amounted to Christians killing Muslims.
Last week, Bush broke his silence on the subject and distanced himself from the evangelical rhetoric.
“Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans,” Bush said. “Ours is a country based upon tolerance (and) we’re not going to let the war on terror or terrorists cause us to change our values.”