Why we object to Franklin Graham’s Islamophobia

By Mikey WeinsteinPresident and Founder, Military Religious Freedom Foundation Let’s just face it: Franklin Graham is an Islamophobe, an anti-Muslim … Continued

By Mikey Weinstein
President and Founder, Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Let’s just face it: Franklin Graham is an Islamophobe, an anti-Muslim bigot and an international representative of the scourge of fundamentalist Christian supremacy and exceptionalism. As a result, he fails in the worst way as a role model for Constitutional American citizenship. How can Graham or anyone prejudge/brand all members of a specific culture, religion and/or ethnicity? Such prejudice and racist cretinism is nothing new. It’s as old as our species and has been the direct cause of the brutal end of untold multitudes of our species.

Graham has a history of describing the whole of the Islamic faith, and thus the whole of its Muslim practitioners, as “evil”, violent”, “false” and “wicked”. I often wonder how painful it must be for U.S. citizens of the Muslim faith to hear Graham’s universal, Father Coughlin-esque condemnations of Islam? Indeed, and how much worse still for the grieving families of recently fallen American servicemen of the Islamic faith like U.S. Army Corp. Kareem Khan, U.S. Army Spec. Rasheed Sahib, U.S. Army Maj. James Ahearn and U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan?

Islamic fundamentalists must cherish Graham as a propaganda tool. For terrorists, jihadists and insurrectionists, Franklin Graham is the gift that keeps on giving. His rejection of Islam can be likened to having an acute case of fundamentalist Christian Tourette’s syndrome; the only good Muslim is a Christian-converted Muslim.

Graham’s profession of “love for the Muslim people” is transparently disingenuous and totally predicated on their “flexibility-cum-willingness” to dump their own fatally flawed faith and convert to Graham’s own version of the Gospel. There can be no doubt that his “all Islam is all evil all the time” bigotry has buttressed the direct and indirect efforts of Islamic extremists to maim, kill and otherwise spill the precious blood of our honorable young men and women in uniform and in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This was bad enough even before the Pentagon unilaterally crowned Graham as the de facto King Proselytizer-For-a-Day for its upcoming National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDPTF) event scheduled for Thursday, May 6, 2010. Those of us at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit civil rights organization I founded several years ago to directly confront religious fundamentalism in the United States military, felt Graham’s appearance had to be canceled swiftly and publicly by the Pentagon. MRFF sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates demanding the immediate rescinding of Graham’s NDPTF speaking invitation, copying all three military service secretaries, all five members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Obama. We wrote on behalf of our brand new MRFF clients; a courageous community of Islamic U.S. armed forces members directly and indirectly assigned to the Pentagon.

Our MRFF clients were understandably outraged that Graham had been invited to preach. They asked MRFF to intervene on their collective behalf. This was not our first rodeo. Speaking such truth to power is not only very hard, it is very dangerous. Which is why over 17,000 active duty U.S. sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines have come to MRFF. Why, yet again? As one MRFF soldier client put it, “to be the voice I am not allowed to speak with”. Amazingly, 96 percent of our members are Christians often denigrated by their superiors for being “not Christian enough”. Think about it. In MRFF’s letter to Gates, we laid out irrefutable arguments as to why the invitation to Graham was a scandalous outrage not only because of his anti-Islamic bigotry, but also because the invitation would cause the Pentagon to blatantly violate at least two of its own most important internal regulations and directives.

The first prohibits the endorsement of a non-federal entity like Focus on the Family’s spinoff, the National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDPTF), and the second prohibits the Pentagon from providing a “selective benefit” or preferential treatment to any organization like the NDPTF. We also forcefully pointed out the breathtaking unconstitutionality of the Pentagon’s tryst with an entity like the NDPTF, which, now get this, actually requires all of its event participants to ascribe via written assurance to a classic, fundamentalist Christian, sectarian “Statement of Belief” so narrow in scope it would exclude many devout Christians themselves. But it doesn’t stop there.

Perhaps even more shockingly, all NDPTF event coordinators are required to restrict its staff production participants to Christians only. Now, if done privately, without Pentagon or related government complicity, these activities would be just fine. But as it stood, such actions were glaringly unethical, unlawful and unconstitutional. Period.

But, of course, we knew that our firebrand missive alone would not be enough. So we retained aggressive trial lawyers and gave them the green light to prepare to go into federal court to seek a temporary restraining order to stop this NDPTF event. Our timing was greatly aided by the propitious and superb decision U.S. Dist. Court Judge Barbara Crabb handed down in Wisconsin only a few days prior to our letter, declaring that the National Day of Prayer itself was unconstitutional. We told the Pentagon that we would withdraw our planned litigation if and only if they withdrew the prestigious invitation to Graham.

The calculus of our MRFF victory went something like the following; clearly the combination of our demand letter and our imminent litigation promise carried the day to provide the requisite “heat” to quickly “educate” the Pentagon about the multi-dimensional domestic and foreign “catastrophe” which would swiftly ensue if it did not timely withdraw Graham’s invitation. The Pentagon withdrew Graham’s ill-conceived speaking honor, with MRFF’s lawyers on the federal courthouse steps, just 48 hours after we launched our demand letter. At least on that fine day, Lady Liberty smiled.

Graham’s fellow fundamentalists don’t seem to be taking the defeat too well. MRFF has been literally flooded with thousands of threatening and vile hate e-mails and ugly phone calls distorting the civil rights of Muslim Americans and evincing an egregiously biased hatred and tortured ignorance of Constitutional law and American history. One boastfully proclaims that “Islam is evil and anyone who practices Islam deserves to be shot on the spot.”

Behold, the product of Franklin Graham’s “Christian love.”

Mikey Weinstein is President and Founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which has been nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

(Learn more about Islam at Patheos.com)

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  • YEAL9

    And does anyone object to Mikey Weinstein’s obvious abuse of his “non-profit” group?Again with respect to Mikey Weinstein’s IRS Form 990:Mikey W is the president of the non-profit Military Religious Freedom Foundation and therefore must file an IRS Form 990. This report then becomes part of the public record. Said foundation must report donations, salaries, expenses etc. on this form. And Mikey W’s salary for 2008 was ? And the donations were?????As per Form 990 (guidestar.org), Mikey W’s salary for 2008 was $252,485. Total donations made to his foundation for 2008 were $545,434. Non-profit??? Mikey Weinstein is President and Founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which has been nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize????Since the nominee list for Nobel prizes are kept secret for fifty years, there is no way to confirm Weinstein’s claims.

  • czn_candle

    Highlight everything and drag it to a new window: you will see a vid that says Obama admits He is a muslim.

  • czn_candle

    o nvm

  • Someslickshoes

    “I’m glad Jerry Falwell is dead”

  • Athena4

    Keep doing what you’re doing, Mikey. Us non-Christians are right there with you!

  • YEAL9

    As per Mickey W:”On October 15, 2009, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was officially nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. The nominator, who wishes to remain anonymous, happens to be the only Christian in the upper chamber of his country’s national parliament; the country is an ally of the United States. Shortly thereafter, another anonymous Qualified Nominator submitted a second official nomination for MRFF for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.”Could this be a con since the list of Nobel prize nominees are kept secret for fifty years?? Hmmmm???

  • muslim1908

    Thank you Mr. Weinstein for stating clearly what should be obvious to all of us who value our pluralist democracy. Islamophobia is the new ideology of war hawks and racists.

  • areyousaying

    One thing is for sure. Abraham, who was probably the original Satan, never taught his children to play well together.

  • chucksteaks

    in many ways i read mikey whinestin more offensive with politik kunrectnezz. the military is geting to be more of a daycare/centr for single unmarried females then real soldiers. what great benies?! i want to know what happen at fort hood!!?? i want mikey to shake loose what happened at fort hood, and tell us all. stop bowing to the minority shamolta jihadists in the u.s.a. go back if you cannot find a mosk in my neighborhood; i do not want one here. neal hallock good buddy.

  • Garak

    yeal9: you left out the 12 million gays, gypsies, Jews, Slavs, and others killed in the totally-Christian Holocaust. And don’t forget the holy Catholic rite of child molestation.

  • spidermean2

    “Mike Weinstein left Mr. Perot’s employ in 2006 to focus his full-time attention on the nonprofit foundation he founded in March 2006 TO DIRECTLY BATTLE the evangelical, fundamentalist religious right;” (WIKIPEDIA)Why is this madman’s voice heard when he himself thinks that Evangelical Christianity is evil? If he thinks Graham is unqualified for thinking that Islam (not Muslims) ,which just comprise less than 0.01percent of the Pentagon, is evil, what makes this madman qualified to dictate the Pentagon when more than 25% or even more of the PEOPLE he thinks are evil comprise the U.S. military?There is a big difference when you think that the people and not just the religion is evil in which the madman Weinstein subscribe. I myself believe that Catholicism and Islam are evil but I find the people who practice it as victims and not merely categorized them as evil people.This idiot don’t understand Evangelical Christianity and he is let loose to pursue a goal to destroy it based on stupidity and ignorance.This man is putting the whole of America in danger and putting him in jail may be good for him and the rest of the world. It might prevent Doomsday.

  • MajBones

    Mikey specifically stated “religious fundamentalism”, i.e., anyone who believes he/she is entitled to force his/her religion down anyone else’s throat, especially those with a convert or kill mentality.I laugh at those who wrongly assume it means Christian evangelicals. Millions of evangelical Christians proselytize outside of government work hours and offices, by offering, inviting, setting a good example, and otherwise attempting to considerately bring in converts. Mikey will be the first to tell you: many of these are his clients! These are not religious fundamentalists. “Religious fundamentalists” include Muslim terrorists right along with Christian crusader types who murder doctors, attack policemen and their funerals, form cults that end with toxic Kool Aid, and so on.One Muslim terrorist does not make all Muslims terrorists, and one murderous Christian does not make all Christians murderous Crusaders, killing in the name of Christ.

  • spidermean2

    “I laugh at those who wrongly assume it means Christian evangelicals. “It’s clear that is what he means. Wikipedia will describe it very plainly for you. “Mike Weinstein left Mr. Perot’s employ in 2006 to focus his full-time attention on the nonprofit foundation he founded in March 2006 TO DIRECTLY BATTLE the evangelical, fundamentalist religious right;” (WIKIPEDIA)

  • spidermean2

    Nobody wants Doomsday to occur, but honestly, it gives you a sigh of relief when Doomsday is coming to weed out those who are instruments for making Doomsday a reality. These idiots are like bacteria who are dying in their own wastes. It’s called fermentation.The Pentagon should be very careful with itself. It has populated its ranks with “bacteria” starting with Gen Mullen.

  • quietamerican1

    Thank you Mikey:***Before I go any further I want to make it clear that, in this post, I use the phrase “christian fundamentalist” in lower case to distinguish the Franklin Grahams, Pat Robertsons, James Dobsons et al from Christian Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, Orthodox, Liberal or whatever variety of Christian believer. I think most folks know of what and of whom I am posting.***Taking the words of Franklin Graham and countless other loud-mouthed “ambassadors of christ” as genuine Christian testimony, one might think Christianity to be a cult in which gossip & blaming others as being the cause of any & every wrong (real or imagined) while not considering one’s own actions, words & thoughts, is the highest virtue. THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF JESUS’ TEACHINGS!It’s clear to me that countless Christian fundamentalists (lower case) indulge in perverse fantasies: pretending to be persecuted Christian Martyrs and taking it out on their neighbors. These folks are, in JESUS’ NAME, promoting, an unhealthy; Politically Correct Popular Culture of Crybabies, who constantly whine, “everyone is picking on us.” What a sick counter-Christian fantasy! No one is persecuting these people; and yet, they can’t even bare their IMAGINARY crosses in a Christ-like manner:“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”I served in the U.S. Navy in the early 1970s—I was no hero & I certainly got a better deal from my Country than my Country got from me. I will always be grateful for the friends I met and the lessons I learned in those four years. I cherish the memory of an elderly French couple telling me about the American GIs of WWII—I met so many Europeans who loved Americans. I learned something about friendship & respect: that which is worthy of respect resides in the individual, not in one’s faith tradition, belief or unbelief, what part of the country or world one is from, or ones political leanings. Over the years I’ve come to realize that people of good will, religious & non-religious, live by a principle of respecting others: “do as you would be done by.” Good, wonderful, beautiful people—worthy of our respect—are all around this world, in endless, dazzling variety. Franklin Graham and his fellows do not understand this truth. Perhaps they are too busy gossiping.

  • spidermean2

    quietamerican1 wrote “Good, wonderful, beautiful people—worthy of our respect—are all around this world, in endless, dazzling variety. Franklin Graham and his fellows do not understand this truth. “Not very accurate. When this person see what’s coming (World War 3)and why it will occur, he might wonder if he’s the one listening to gossip too much.Poor guy.

  • spidermean2

    Franklin Graham would have been more accurate if he didn’t stop blaming Islam alone. There were plenty of reasons why God allowed the attacks to succeed. False Christianity in America like supporting gay marriage, abortion, evolution, atheism, pornography. ACLU and MRFF with Mikey Weinstein are equally destructive with what extreme Islam preaches.

  • bigjakea15

    It’s quite likely that texts from the koran have been taken out of context but to also reference the particular biblical scripture (psalm 137) mentioned in this article, it was regarding babylon from the perspective of an Israeli psalmist, Babylon was a city that had previously desecrated Jerusalem and their inhabitants (adults and children), and, being that one of the Jewish ordinances was “an eye for an eye” as Jesus later “fulfilled” redeeming believers of the necessity to exact judgement, it was surely an obligation of an ancient Israeli believer to deal similarly with the offenders (babylon). Thus dashing their children against rocks was, although violent, retribution as opposed to an impulsive and irrational command that lacks an appropriate foundation. It’s one thing to exact revenge, it’s quite another to hatefully attack those who disagree with you peacefully.

  • Alex511

    fr spidermean2:>…False Christianity in America like supporting gay marriage…When I married my lovely WIFE in June 2008 in a gay marriage ceremony, our UMC minister was a special invited guest at our wedding. She couldn’t perform the ceremony herself, but she has blessed our marriage in more ways than one. She is a prime example of a true Christian.Deal with it, yeal, that someday there WILL be Marriage EQUALITY in all 50 states and DC. Best get used to it, now.

  • LilannB

    I might be more impressed with the MRFF if it took a stand against all religious bigotry including that by Muslims in the military. Where was the MRFF when Maj Nidal Hassan was giving lectures saying non-Muslims should have our heads cut off and boiling oil poured down our throats? Where were the demands from MRFF that Maj Hassan be removed from the military after making these hateful statements? We now know that Maj Hassan went on to kill 13 unarmed American soldiers while shouting Allah Akbar. Maj Hassan is the kind of religious bigot groups like MRFF should be acting against. The attacks on Franklin Graham are an empty gesture and look like pandering to the Muslim minority.

  • ThishowIseeit

    Mikey Weinstein,

  • cadam72

    What a day when Spidermeandna Yeal9 both show up. Yeal9 apparrently knows how to copy and paste since he/she has the same post in the other section. Mike Weinstein, like many others, is offended by the evangelical forey into our arms forces at the expense on our constitutional values. Religion and the miopic view of Graham should not be the drivers behind our military, but the constitutional principles that guide our country, Justice and Liberty for All, E Pluribus Unim “Out of many, one”. Muslims have been in the country since the 1600s and even Washington talked about the religion of the Turks. Evangelicals need to be more accepting of other faiths. If you really think islam “evil”, violent”, “false” and “wicked” go spend time with patriotic Muslis in America and learn from them.

  • austininc4

    Franklin Graham reminds me of another pseudo Christian. Jim Jones!!!

  • wjgreen1

    Why I Object to Your Specious Argument:In short, Mikey has not learned to differentiate between what a religion’s holy text commands its adherents to do and what most of its adherents actually do.Any fair and objective reading of the Koran will yield numerous passages that speak of the necessity of “true believers” to engage in Military Jihad, as opposed to only spiritual Jihad (the struggle to conform to the will of Allah). Maturity requires the skill to distinguish between a profound disdain for a religion’s teaching that perhaps 1 in 50 adherents actually literally obey, and a genuine Christian love for all peoples — including Muslims — the vast majority of which disobey the commandment to engage in military Jihad and are peace-loving, good folk.The irony is, those who disobey their own Holy Text’s admonition to war against the “unbelievers” are the vast majority of Muslims worldwide. Rev. Graham has no ill words for them. His Biblically based criticism, as an evangelist, a prophet, and a Biblical Exegete, is against the Koran’s insistence on Jihad that de facto, when obeyed, engages adherents in torture, maiming, murder, and mayhem. This is what Rev. Graham and all true followers of the Christian faith recognize and rightly speak out against.Unless and until you learn this differentiation, Mikey, you will be mired in immaturity and you will speak in specious arguments, and with inappropriately broad strokes condemn and mock people whose maturity, depth of character, ability to differentiate, recognition of nuance, and faithfulness to a core belief as delivered by God far, far exceeds your own.Grow up, and repent.