Franklin Graham not afraid to stand out, in words and deeds

Ashville Citizen-Times, Sep. 25 2002

Franklin Graham does not see himself picking up the mantle of his father’s legacy. Nor does he consider himself a crusader against Islam, though Graham said he worries too few people realize the extent to which the country has been “Islamized.”

The Asheville born fourth child of the Rev. Billy Graham and Ruth Bell Graham has faced both questions frequently as his parents age and he increasingly finds himself on a world stage.

Graham talked about his father, his criticisms of Islam, his ministry, the media and his experiences in the Middle East in an hour-long interview Tuesday with the Citizen- Times.

He spoke at length in what had been planned as a brief meeting during a tour by newspaper editors of the Boone headquarters of Samaritan’s Purse, the worldwide relief agency he oversees.

In the interview, Graham complained angrily about bombings near a Samaritan’s Purse hospital in Sudan. The 80-bed surgical hospital serves an area of 400,000 people. Some walk two weeks for care.

There were seven bombings near the hospital in 2000. But those were from turbo prop planes that could be heard coming and gave people time to get to shelter, said Carissa Mastry, a spokeswoman for Samaritan’s Purse.

A Sept. 21 bombing from a jet killed 13 people, including four children. None were Samaritan’s Purse workers and the hospital remains open, Mastry said.

To help victims of the civil war in the country, the agency’s workers have airlifted more than 250 tons of food and emergency supplies.

“I do have experiences in my life that formulated why I believe what I believe but I am not on an anti-Islamic campaign,” he said. “I am just responding to folks like you who ask me questions that I am not ducking.”

Below are remarks from Franklin Graham during an interview with the Citizen-Times. The questions and Graham’s remarks have been edited for clarity and length. Any words added for clarity appear in parentheses.

Asked about his criticisms of Islam and where they are coming from:

From 40 years of traveling to the Middle East, and I have traveled to countries (including), Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan.

I have seen when Muslims are in majority. There is no religious freedom. You cannot name one nation that has an Islamic majority where there is religious freedom.

I have seen the persecution. I have witnessed the persecution of people of different faiths by Islams. It is taught by them, it is in their Koran. They can’t deny it.

Our country is slowly being, very quietly, being Islamized by huge contributions from Saudi Arabia to our universities to pay for Islamic studies, to support Islamic causes in this country.

I don’t have a problem with that, but I can’t go to Saudi Arabia and take even a Bible. I can’t go to Saudi Arabia with a Bible. They will confiscate it.

If you are a Muslim in Saudi Arabia and you want to change your religion and become a Hindu or become anything other than Muslim, they can kill you. You can lose your life.

I know of people that have lost their lives because they changed their religion. So the majority of people don’t see this in this country.

Fighting to save a hospital

I have a hospital in Sudan. The north is predominantly Muslim and the south is predominantly Christian. In Sudan, the Muslims support slavery. Black Africans are still bought, sold and traded on the slave markets by Muslims. They do this to the Christians. They like to take women as slaves and use them sexually and they call them their donkeys.

Ask to clarify the “Islamizing” of America

The point I was trying to make is they will spend hundreds of millions on PR firms. Saudi company employees who try to give them a good image, they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in this country, giving it to universities to start an Islamic study division.

We can’t do that in their countries. American missionaries cannot collect money and go to Saudi Arabia and start an institute on Christian studies at the University of Rihad. They don’t have that same option.

I’m not trying to stop them from doing what they’re doing. I just want to make it, I want people to understand that we can’t do it.

Terrorism and the attacks at home

These terrorists in Israel that are blowing up innocent children and buses, they are not doing this for Yassar Arafat. They are not doing this for their country. They are doing this in the name of their religion. It is their religion that is driving them.

And it all goes back to (1979, when) the Ayatollah Khomeni came back (to Iran) and started what has been called the Islamic revolution.

We in the west have never experienced this kind of behavior, have never seen this before, where religion is driving people to mass murder, where religion is killing innocent people. They have never seen it and never experienced it.

But you look at what happened in Afghanistan with the Taliban and students of Islam and whole segments within their own society.

Iran, after the Islamic revolution, the slaughter of tens of thousands of Christians and Ba’Hai, people of other faiths, So, I mean, the evidence is there whether you want to accept it or believe it or choose to not try to understand it. There are some real issues there, some real problems.

For me, as a Christian, I want to reach out to the people and work in Muslim countries. I want to try to win them. I do not believe that Islam is the way to go. I don’t believe that.

As a Christian, I believe the Bible teaches that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no ifs, ands or buts about it. I believe that.

And on 9/11 our nation was attacked. Over 3,000 Americans were killed by people who followed Islam and did it in the name of Islam. And you say, but Muslims were killed, too. Yeah, they’re killing Muslims, too, in other parts of the world. There are millions and millions of Muslims who do not agree. But this Islamic revolution that has taken place, starting in Iran, is rising and getting stronger.

And it’s very dangerous, because they hate Jews and hate Christians. I’m talking about fundamentalists.

On Muslims in the United States

Now, the Muslims in this country do not practice true Islam. They are not allowed to have four wives. They are not allowed to beat their wife. So a lot of Islams in this country don’t understand.

All the values that we as a nation hold dear, they don’t share those same values at all, these countries that have the majority of Muslims.

My forefathers were Scottish. Now they came because they were persecuted. The Scots said that Jesus Christ was the head of the church. The King of England said “I am the head of the church.” And the English killed the Scots by the thousands. And they came over here.

So my forefathers, when they came, they wanted to make sure that whoever came behind them were never treated the way they were treated. They wanted to give them the freedom to worship God.

Waiting for an apology

The big issue I have is that we have not heard from the Vatican of Islam. When these terrorists killed Americans and they said they did this in the name of Islam, there has been a debate of, well, no, they don’t represent Islam and so forth.

OK, but what does the “Vatican” say? Who holds the truth of Islam. What do they say? The only cleric that we have seen from Saudi Arabia – now get this clear, I’m not talking about American or Muslim organizations. Saudi Arabia is the center of Islam. OK? If what happened on 9/11 wasn’t done in the name of Islam, I would like to hear what these clerics from Saudi Arabia have to say.

I’m not talking about like the child molestations that have come from the Catholic church in this country. The whole world is interested, not only locally, but what does the Pope now have to say about this issue? We want to know what that Pope has to say. Does he agree with this? Is this a good idea to molest children and then for these Catholic priests to be put over here in another parish where nobody knows and they go into another church and they molest children and after they do their damage there, we secretly take them out and transfer them.

We want to hear what the Pope has to say. And the Pope has been pretty clear in addressing the issue.

OK, now with Islam. I want to hear what their popes have to say. What do the leaders now of Islam have to say? Because here the Catholics were pretty corrupt, the cardinals up in Boston and so forth and then the bishops were responsible for the deception of the Catholic church.

I want to hear what the clerics from Saudi Arabia have to say. The only cleric that has been on American television was the one congratulating Osama bin Laden and Osama bin Laden talking about how the buildings imploded and the cleric was congratulating him and so forth. That’s the only Saudi cleric that we have seen.

Now, I think the evidence is there. They speak for themselves. There was a conference last week in England of Muslim clerics. And they wanted the blood of the Jews to turn to ice in their veins.

I have never heard a Baptist minister get in the pulpit and say “I wish the Muslims blood would turn to ice in their veins,” I’ve never heard that.

To say about a person of another faith, that they would die and shrivel up, I’ve never heard this. We don’t preach that in our pulpits. Catholic, Protestant, in the Christian faith, we try to bring people together.

Not on an anti-Islamic campaign

There have been several reports (on my views) about Islam. It comes across sometimes like I am an advocate against Islam. I am just answering your questions.

I do have experiences in my life that formulated why I believe what I believe, but I am not on an anti-Islamic campaign. I am just responding to folks like you who ask me questions that I am not ducking. I am answering. But sometimes I get painted in the media as beating up on these people and that is kind of like my goal in life and it’s not.

When asked about the evangelical role of relief workers

In Arab and Muslim countries, we are not permitted to evangelize like you would in this country. We can’t stand up and go on the street corner and preach or rent the local soccer stadium and say we want to have a meeting tonight and invite people to come. You cannot do that. They will not allow it.

And I think in Afghanistan, a place like this where they have been butchering themselves for the last 27 years, first the Russians and then the Taliban, these people have suffered probably more than any other nation on the face of the earth.

We are there in the name of Jesus Christ. We cannot preach openly but we asked if someone asks us about our faith, are we permitted to answer their questions. The local commander said yes.

And so we are able to witness one-on-one like that, but you can’t go publicly. But I think sometimes in life it’s important that you demonstrate and your actions are louder than words. And when people are suffering and you reach down and you help them there is no conditions.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday October 3, 2002.
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