Evangelical preacher the Rev. Franklin Graham has insisted he is not xenophobic, after "xenophobia" was named 2016 "Word of the Year" by Dictionary.com, despite his support for President-elect Donald-Trump's plan to carry out "extreme vetting" of foreigners coming to America.
"America is a nation made up of foreigners. I'm not afraid of foreigners — and I don't think anyone else is either — unless they have a religion that demands they kill you. President-elect Donald J. Trump has said we need to do extreme vetting of people entering this country — and I agree," Graham wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
"I am praying for him and Vice President-elect Mike Pence as they build an administration to make America better and keep this nation safe from those who would wish to destroy it. Xenophobic? I'm not," he added.
The popular online dictionary explained that its latest "word of the year" means "fear or hatred of foreigners."
"This particular year saw fear rising to the surface of cultural discourse," the company said in a statement, according to CNN.
The report pointed out that "xenophobia" was increasingly used in 2016 discourse, including a 938 percent surge in online searches for the word after the U.K. voted to leave the European Union on June 24.
Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama also used the word in accusations against Trump.
"That's not the measure of populism. That's nativism or xenophobia or worse. Or it's just cynicism," Obama said in June, referring to Trump's controversial statements.
While Trump has not yet detailed if and how exactly this "extreme vetting" of migrants coming to America will be carried out, during his campaign he called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country due to rising terror fears.
Graham warned in July that Democrats' plans to allow tens of thousands of Muslim refugees to come to America could pose grave threats to the nation's Christians.
"President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and some other politicians want to allow tens of thousands of Muslim refugees into this country. A few days ago two Muslim men went into a Catholic Church in France in the name of ISIS and brutally slit the throat of an 85-year-old priest," Graham wrote at the time, referring to killing of a priest in Normandy in July.
"Unless something is done, it's just a matter of time before we see this happen here in the United States," the president of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association wrote.
Other prominent evangelical Christian leaders in America, such as Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, have struck a different tone when talking about refugees, and said that it is vital for Christians to follow in Jesus' footsteps and help them.
"Why must we care about these refugees? Why must we care about foreigners? Why must we care about immigrants? What the Bible sometimes calls aliens, foreigners, strangers in the land? Because God commands it. All throughout Scripture, God says you are to treat people who are out of their country kindly," Warren said at the GC2 Summit at Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois, back in January.
Analysts, such as former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who served under former President Bill Clinton, argued that this year's Dictionary.com choice is not a word to be cerebrated.
"(Xenophobia) divides us. It invites harassment and bullying. Or worse, it turns us from tolerance and empathy to disrespect and hate," Reich argued in a video.
"It is not a word to be celebrated. It's a sentiment to be fought."