DENVER — A watchdog group objected Tuesday to an evangelist’s invitation to speak at the Pentagon next month, saying his past description of Islam as “evil” offended Muslims who work for the Department of Defense and the appearance should be canceled.
Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said inviting evangelist Franklin Graham to speak May 6, the National Day of Prayer, “would be like bringing someone in on national prayer day madly denigrating Christianity” or other religious groups.
It would also endanger American troops by stirring up Muslim extremists, Weinstein said.
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Graham is the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham and president and CEO of both Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian international relief organization in Boone, N.C., and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in Charlotte, N.C.
He said through a spokesman that he will be a guest of the Pentagon and will speak only if he’s still invited. A military spokeswoman said she was locating officials to respond to the criticism.
After the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Graham said Islam “is a very evil and wicked religion.” In a later op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, Graham wrote that he did not believe Muslims were evil because of their faith, but “as a minister …. I believe it is my responsibility to speak out against the terrible deeds that are committed as a result of Islamic teaching.”
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