Less than a week after Franklin Graham was disinvited from the Pentagon prayer event, the evangelist faces another attempt to remove him from a National Day of Prayer observation.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that is widely accused of having ties to terrorists, has called on congressional sponsors of the National Day of Prayer event on Capitol Hill to rescind Graham's invitation to speak at the May 6 gathering.
CAIR denounced Graham as an “anti-Islam preacher” who sends a message of “religious intolerance.”
“Franklin Graham has the right to be an Islamophobe, but he does not have the right to a taxpayer-funded public platform,” said Corey Saylor, CAIR national legislative director, in a statement.
Despite the pressure to remove Graham, members of Congress involved in NDOP on Capitol Hill say they will not withdraw the invitation. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), who has sponsored the Congressional National Day of Prayer event at the Capitol for the past several years, and other lawmakers have stated that the invitation will stand, according to the National Day of Prayer Task Force.
“Suggesting Mr. Graham should be removed from a National Day of Prayer event because of his religious opinions is absurd,” said NDPTF chairman Shirley Dobson, in a statement Tuesday. “No one understands better the need for prayer at this critical juncture in our nation’s history.”
Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson, noted that Graham’s son is currently serving in the military overseas on his fourth combat tour. And the evangelist’s father, Billy Graham, has served the religious needs of Americans, including a dozen presidents, for decades.
“Moves to exclude any member of this great family from this prayer event represent everything that is wrong with the agenda of political correctness that is rampant in our country,” Dobson said. “Our nation’s founders wouldn’t have tolerated it, and neither should we.”
Graham is the co-honorary chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.
Last Thursday, the army canceled Graham's scheduled appearance at the Pentagon's National Day of Prayer event because of concerns over past remarks he made about Islam.
After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Graham called Islam a “very evil and wicked religion.” He also made disparaging remarks about the Muslim faith in an interview with CNN’s Campbell Brown in December 2009.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, on behalf of Muslim military personnel and defense department staff, had demanded in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that Graham be disinvited from speaking at the Pentagon prayer event. The army called the comments inappropriate and suggested it went against the army’s message of tolerance.
Graham brought the Pentagon prayer situation to President Obama’s attention. During Obama’s visit with Billy Graham at his North Carolina home on Sunday, the younger Graham expressed his concern that activists were trying to remove all religion from the military.
Graham told The Associated Press that Obama said he “would look into it.”