UPDATE: Evangelist Franklin Graham has confirmed that he has been disinvited by the US Army to serve as honorary chairman of a National Day of Prayer event, the Associated Press reports.
Earlier news reports had stated that this was the case, but confirmation only came Thursday afternoon when Graham, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, issued a statement saying he regretted the Army’s decision.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW
Editor’s Note: CNN’s Roland Martin reports, “The son of evangelist Billy Graham is removed as a speaker at a Pentagon event due to his remarks on Islam.”
But the final decision seems to be an error since the CNN video contains no mention of one being made yet. RAW STORY regrets running with the CNN headline initially.
Army spokesman Gary Tallman told Fox News that Graham’s “presence at the event may be taken by some as inappropriate for a government agency.”
“As the executive agent of the Pentagon chaplain’s office, Army leadership determined it needed further review,” he said.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation raised the objection to the appearance, citing Graham’s past remarks about Islam, in a letter sent Monday to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Army mulls disinviting evangelist after attacks on Islam surface, but church leader isn’t backing down
The Christian evangelist invited to serve as honorary chairman of the Army’s National Day of Prayer declined to walk back remarks accusing Islam of being a “wicked and evil” religion in an interview broadcast early Thursday.
Asked to clarify comments in which he called Islam “evil” after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, evangelist Franklin Graham said Thursday he still took issue with those adhering to the Muslim faith.
“I love the people of Islam but their religion, I do not agree with their religion at all,” he said. He added that he was disturbed by the treatment of women under Islam.
“I speak out for people that live under Islam,” he said, “that are enslaved by Islam and I want them to know that they can be free, free through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone.”
Franklin Graham is the son of televangelist Billy Graham. He was invited by the Army to serve as an honorary chairman for Prayer Day, but the invitation is facing scrutiny after a watchdog group drew attention to his 2001 remarks. Following this pressure, Army Col. Tom Collins told the Associated Press Wednesday that withdrawing Graham’s invitation “is on the table.”
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation objected to the invitation, citing Graham’s past comments about Islam.
Graham called Islam a “very evil and wicked religion” in the days after the 9/11 attacks. Later, he tried to temper his remarks by saying that Americans shouldn’t “paint [Muslims] in a broad brush” since only a “small group of people” were responsible for flying airplanes into US sites.
On another occasion, the evangelist declared that “true” Islam involves abuse of women and labeled it a “very violent religion.”
“We have many Muslims that live in this country,” he said. “But true Islam cannot be practiced in this country. You can’t beat your wife. You cannot murder your children if you think they’ve committed adultery or something like that, which they do practice in these other countries… I don’t agree with the teachings of Islam and I find it to be a very violent religion.”
This video is from Fox News Fox & Friends, broadcast April 22, 2010.