The Rev. Franklin Graham, who outraged Muslims in 2001 when he said that Islam “is a very evil and wicked religion,” told an interviewer for Wednesday’s edition of ABC News “Nightline” that he hasn’t changed his mind about the faith.
Asked by ABC correspondent John Donvan whether Muslim groups had succeeded in altering his outlook about Islam, Graham said “No.” “Do they want to indoctrinate me? Yes. I know about Islam. I don’t need an education from Islam,” he said. “If people think Islam is such a wonderful religion, just go to Saudi Arabia and make it your home. Just live there. If you think Islam is such a wonderful religion, I mean, go and live under the Taliban somewhere. I mean, you’re free to do that.”
Franklin Graham is the successor to his father as head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, based in Charlotte, N.C. He was interviewed Sunday in New Orleans, where Franklin and Billy were leading an evangelistic festival.
The younger Graham angered Muslims following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when he told NBC News: “We’re not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He’s not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It’s a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion.”
In a subsequent Wall Street Journal piece, Graham wrote that he doesn’t think Muslim believers “are evil people because of their faith. But I decry the evil that has been done in the name of Islam, or any other faith — including Christianity.”
That article said “the persecution or elimination of non-Muslims has been a cornerstone of Islamic conquests and rule for centuries.” Graham said the Quran “provides ample evidence that Islam encourages violence in order to win converts and to reach the ultimate goal of an Islamic world.”
Some of Graham’s fellow evangelicals subsequently expressed concern that his comments might endanger Christian missionaries working in Muslim countries, strain interfaith relations and make America’s war on terrorism seem to be a Christian crusade against Islam.
Billy Graham has avoided such comments about Islam and President Bush has consistently depicted mainstream Islam as a religion of peace. Another U.S. evangelist, the Rev. Pat Robertson, said of militant Muslims on his Monday telecast: “These people are crazed fanatics, and I want to say it now: I believe it’s motivated by demonic power. It is satanic and it’s time we recognize what we’re dealing with.” “The goal of Islam, ladies and gentlemen, whether you like it or not, is world domination,” he said.