Some evangelical Christians have condemned recent remarks made by Franklin Graham, president and CEO of relief organization Samaritan's Purse and of his father's Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, expressing concern that the minister is distorting the message of Christianity and promoting fear of those who follow Islam by saying the U.S. is "under attack by Muslims" and "all Muslims" should be banned from immigrating to the U.S.
"Yesterday Franklin Graham said really awful things about Muslims. If he knew the Muslim men and women I know, he would NEVER say such things," Lynne Hybels, of Willow Creek Community Church and a social justice activist, wrote July 18 on Twitter.
Carl Medearis, an author and "international expert in Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations," tweeted an open letter to Graham, calling the 63-year-old minister's remarks "harsh" and "unhelpful."
"This is Christian witness?" Helen Lee, associate editor at InterVarsity Press, asked in relation to Graham's remarks.
Greg Jao, vice president and director of Campus Engagement for InterVarsity/USA," wrote: "As an evangelical and American, I strongly reject @Franklin_Graham's proposal. Horrified over 134K people can like it."
Brian Zahnd, an author and pastor of Word Life Church, said Graham's remarks reflected "xenophobia."
Tim Sweetman, a writer and blogger, called the Southern Baptist-ordained minister's remarks "despicable" and said they were counter to "Christian love" and "American freedom."
The remarks in question were made by Graham on July 17 on his Facebook page, where he frequently posts personal commentary on current events and hot-button issues, such as the recent undercover video of a Planned Parenthood executive discussing the harvesting of baby body parts and President Barack Obama's response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.
"Four innocent Marines (United States Marine Corps) killed and three others wounded in #Chattanooga yesterday including a policeman and another Marine — all by a radical Muslim whose family was allowed to immigrate to this country from Kuwait," Graham wrote in his edited Facebook post.
The ordained minister and frequent Fox News guest was referring to Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a Kuwaiti-born Tennessee resident who fatally shot four Marines in July 16 attacks on two military facilities in Chattanooga. A Navy sailor wounded by Abdulazeez eventually died from his injuries.
The FBI has not described the 24-year-old Muslim's violent act as terrorism and nor have investigators declared a motive for the attacks, which were denounced by the gunman's family and by members of the Muslim community in Chattanooga.
Abdulazeez, killed in a shootout with police, reportedly sent an Islamic verse about "declared war" hours before carrying out the attack. The gunman, who reportedly abused drugs and alcohol and suffered for years with depression, wrote in his diary about having suicidal thoughts and "becoming a martyr," ABC News reported.
"We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad," Graham argued in his Facebook post about the shootings. "We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled. Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized — and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad."
Graham went on to tell his two million Facebook followers that the United States should consider how it treated Japanese and German immigrants during World War II as an example of how to handle emigrating Muslims today.
"During World War 2, we didn't allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now? Do you agree? Let your Congressman know that we've got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates. Pray for the men and women who serve this nation in uniform, that God would protect them."
The Christian Post was not able to ask Graham what he would suggest government officials do with Muslims already residing in the U.S. However, in 1941, after Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor, then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order allowing for the mass incarceration of 120,000 citizens and legal permanent residents of Japanese ancestry due to fears of domestic spying. The U.S. government repented in 1988 of its illegal detention of Japanese Americans, reportedly half of whom were children.
A great many of those reading Graham's Facebook post calling for a prohibition of Muslim immigrating to the United States presumably agreed with the Christian minister's suggestions, as the social network indicated that more than 166,000 people have "liked" his post as of press time.