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Army boots Franklin Graham from National Day of Prayer

From Stars & Stripes The Army has disinvited Franklin Graham to speak at the Pentagon on National Prayer Day after a military advocacy group objected because Graham has reportedly described Islam as ‘evil’ and ‘wicked.’ ’I regret that the Army felt it was necessary to rescind their invitation to the National Day of Prayer Task Force to participate in the Pentagon’s special prayer service,’ Graham said in a statement on Thursday. 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 was expected to speak at the Pentagon on May 6, drawing the ire of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group focused on religious favoritism in the military. The group had been prepared to seek a temporary restraining order against National Prayer Day if it were ‘polluted by someone as hideously Islamophobic as Franklin Graham,’ said Mikey Weinstein, head of the group. In a 2001 op-ed piece, Graham wrote that he does not believe Muslims are evil, but he objects to the treatment of women in Muslim countries and Islam’s historic ‘persecution or elimination’ of other religions. On Thursday, Graham told Fox News that while he loves Muslims, ‘I speak out for people that live under Islam, that are enslaved by Islam and I want them to know they can be free through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone.’Council on American Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said it is ‘completely inappropriate’ for Graham to speak in front of a military audience. ’These are individuals who are potentially going to be stationed in Muslim majority nations, and they don’t need to hear from someone spreading hatred of Islam and Muslims,’ Hooper said. ’What does that say to those who are going to be asked to serve in these regions and how is that going to affect their interaction with the local population?’ Graham is honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a group that organizes Christian events that was invited to participate in National Day of Prayer by the Pentagon chaplain’s office. An Army spokesman told the Associated Press the Pentagon’s relationship with the Christian group does not violate Defense Department rules. We are an all-inclusive military,’ said Col. Tim Collins. ‘We hold observances throughout the year. This one happens to be a Christian-themed event.’ But his comments were criticized by the Secular Coalition for America, an advocacy for non-religious Americans. ’For the Pentagon to hold an explicitly ‘˜Christian-themed event’ around the day of prayer is brazenly out of all reasonable bounds, and explicitly exclusionary to U.S. servicemembers of all non-Christian faiths and of no faith,’ group Executive Director Sean Faircloth said in a release. The American Family Association was quick to support Graham. Dear Rev. Graham, We stand with you in both your expressions of love for Muslims and your criticisms of Islam. We at the American Family Association likewise desire that every Muslim may come to faith in Jesus Christ and know the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life that is found in him. It is because of our love for Muslims that we also stand with you in your conviction that Islam is an “evil and wicked religion” which puts its followers in bondage and puts others in danger. Your description of Islam is certainly supported by that our culture seems determined to ignore: ’¢ Devout Muslims have a sacred responsibility, according to the command of Allah through his prophet Muhammad, to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them (Sura 9:5).” Over 100 verses in the Koran call for the death of infidel Christians and Jews. We have seen the tragic fruit of this ideology both on 9/11 and at Fort Hood. Islam is not, in fact, a religion of peace but of violence, death and war. ’¢ Islam, through the example of Muhammad, sanctions the marriage of girls who are but children. Muhammad himself began having sex with his youngest wife Aisha when she was just nine years old (Bukhari, Vol. 8). Just last week, a 12-year-old girl in Saudi Arabia went to court to divorce her 80-year-old husband. In the West, these are acts of pedophilia and utterly at odds with the Christian principle that the sexual purity of young females is to be protected until they are mature enough to voluntarily and freely enter into marriage. ’¢ Christians are granted only second class status under Islam, and are given only three choices where Islam reigns: conversion, submission or death. Conversion from Islam to Christianity remains a capital offense in many Muslim countries. In supposedly free Egypt, Coptic Christians are even today routinely harassed, persecuted and killed by Islamic fundamentalists. Freedom of religion, a profoundly American value, is utterly absent in Islam. Further, this practice is directly at variance with the fundamental concept in American jurisprudence that we are all, everyone of us, equal under the law. ’¢ Women under the iron fist of Islam are indeed, as you said, given “horrid” treatment. In many Islamic countries, women are not allowed to receive an education or even show their faces in public. Husbands are taught in the Koran that they may literally beat their wives into submission, completely contrary to the Christian admonition that husbands are to “love their wives as Christ loved the church.” The blatant and deadly sexism in Islam is contrary to the fundamental Christian precept that men and women are full equals before the true God in spiritual worth, value and significance. ’¢ The practice of honor killings is widespread in the Islamic world. According to the U.N., over 5,000 women a year are brutally murdered under the flag of Islam, in many cases because they have brought “dishonor” to their families by becoming the tragic victims of rape. The “horrid” practice of honor killings sadly has come to the U.S. A Muslim husband decapitated his wife in New York, while a Muslim father in Texas shot his two teenage daughters to death in the back of a taxi cab and another Muslim father in Arizona ran his daughter down with the family SUV. The crime in the latter two cases was that their daughters had become too “Westernized.” This practice is utterly at odds with the Christian teaching that fathers are to nurture and protect their children. Additionally, we are alarmed that your First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion have been so severely compromised. The spirit of Christianity has infused our military since the days our first commander-in-chief, George Washington, appointed Christian chaplains, directed his troops to “attend Divine service,” and challenged them to add to the “distinguished character of Patriot” what he called “the more distinguished Character of Christian.” According to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, one of the enumerated powers of Congress is “To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.” We are going to insist that all members of Congress declare themselves on whether they agree with the shameful treatment you have received at the hands of the current administration. We will be sending an alert to all 2.4 million members of the AFA network, urging them to contact their senators and representatives and challenging them to answer this one question: “Do you agree with the decision of President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to ban Rev. Franklin Graham from praying at the Pentagon?” May God affirm you and honor you for declaring the truth both about the gospel of Christ and the religion of Muhammad. Sincerely, Tim Wildmon

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