If America is to protect itself by “countering violent extremism,” as President Obama’s recent summit intends, it must first hold accountable its own violent patriotic and Christocentric extremists. A violence-arouser to start with is Rev. Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, who is called the “pastor to presidents” and who led former president George W. Bush to “commit my heart to Jesus Christ.” (“Billy Graham: Pastor to Presidents,” By Janet Chismar, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, billygraham.org)
Rev. Franklin Graham, now leader of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and international aid group Samaritan’s Purse, has left a trail of Islamophobic rants since the horrible 9/11 attacks against America. His response then was not to call America to engage in national soul-searching—as prophets of The Bible might have done. Rather, he blamed 9/11 on Islam, calling it a “very wicked and evil religion.” (“Franklin Graham: ‘Islam is a religion of war,’” By Ruth Gledhill, Christian Today, Dec. 6, 2014)
Never mind the documentation that shows Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” as former president George W. Bush charged to explain 9/11. They hate our so-called Christian nation’s support of tyrannies in their countries, and favoring Israel at the expense of Palestinian rights. (See “‘They hate our policies, not our freedom’: Quietly released Pentagon report,” By Tom Regan, Christian Science Monitor, 11/30/2004)
Rev. Graham’s glorification of his brand of Christianity depends on him condemning Islam as a “violent form of faith,” which led him to do violence to Islam with this glaring lie: “‘Nowhere in its history gives proof of peace (italics added).’” He continued, “‘Islam itself has not changed at all in 1500 years . . . It is the same. It is a religion of war.’” He cited the Islamic State, the Taliban and Boko Haram, and concluded, “This is Islam. It has not been hijacked by radicals. This is the faith, this is the religion. It is what it is. It speaks for itself.” (Ibid)
If Rev. Graham had studied the history of Islam, he might have read Dr. Najib Saliba documented essay on “Christians and Jews Under Islam,” which concludes, “I would like to emphasize that the treatment of Christians and Jews in Muslim states, Arab or Ottoman, was far superior to the treatment Muslims and Jews received at the hands of Christian states, or Palestinians at the hands of the Jewish state of Israel.” (www.alhewar.com)
“Nowhere in its history gives proof of peace.” Evidently Rev. Graham is not aware of the revered Muslim leader, “Saladin: A Benevolent Man Respected By Christians.” Faysal Burhan wrote about him this way: “In 1099 Jerusalem had fallen to the First Crusaders slaughtering its Christian, Muslim and Jewish inhabitants, after promising them safety, but did not spare the lives of children, women or elderly.” Burhan continued, when Saladin retook Jerusalem 88 years later, “Adhering to the teachings of Islam” (italics added), he “did not slaughter the city’s Christian inhabitants. Saladin’s noble act won the respect of his opponents and many more people throughout the world.” (www.omnislam.net, Aug . 26, 2012)
Rev. Graham would have benefited from reading Robert Fisk’s description of viewing the screening of The Kingdom of Heaven film in Beirut, in a theatre filled with young Muslims. Fisk’s description is moving:
At the end of the film, after [Christian crusader]Balian has surrendered Jerusalem, Saladin enters the city and finds a crucifix lying on the floor of a church, knocked off the altar during the three-day siege. And he carefully picks up the cross and places it reverently back on the altar. And at this point the audience rose to their feet and clapped and shouted their appreciation. They loved the gesture of honour. They wanted Islam to be merciful as well as strong. (“Screening of Kingdom of Heaven in Beirut, Counterpunch, June 10-12, 2005)
On his Facebook page, Rev. Graham refers to the Islamic State’s brutal beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians kidnapped in Libya. “Can you imagine the outcry if 21 Muslims had been beheaded by Christians?,” he asked. “Where is the universal condemnation by Muslin leaders around the world? As we mourn with the families of these 21 martyrs,” he wrote, “we’d better take this warning seriously as these acts of terror will only spread throughout Europe and the United States.” His closing words: “If this concerns you like it does me, share this. The storm is coming.” (www.facebook.com)
“Where is the universal condemnation by Muslim leaders around the world?” Apparently, Rev. Graham was not paying attention when, five months ago, a Huffington Post headline declared, “Muslim Scholars Release Open Letter to Islamic State Meticulously Blasting Its Ideology.” The story began, “More than 120 Muslim scholars around the world joined an open letter to the ‘fighters and followers’ of the Islamic State, denouncing them as un-Islamic by using the most Islamic of terms. Relying heavily on the Qur’an, the 18-page letter released Wednesday (Sept. 24) picks apart the extremist ideology of the militants who have left a wake of brutal death and destruction in their bid to establish a transnational Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.” (By lauren Markoe, 9/24/2014, Updated 9/25/2014) Nor does it appear that Rev. Graham read the headline of a piece by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) entitled, “U.S., World Muslim Leaders’ Open Letter Refutes Isis’s Ideology, Urges Supporters to ‘Repent,’ ‘Return to the Religion of Mercy.’” (www.cair.com, Sept. 24, 2014)
Rev. Graham would have everyone believe numerous other violent characteristics he attributes to Islam. Like, “You have to look at their religion and what they teach,” he told Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. “You have to look at the religion and . . . what the Qur’an actually teaches. It says you cannot take a Christian to be your friend, you cannot take a Jew to be your friend. And Greta,” he continued, “if you were a Muslim and wanted to convert to Christianity or Judaism, if you did not repent and turn back to Islam, your family would kill you.” (“Rev. Franklin Graham: ‘Is Islam Really a Religion of Peace?,” www.teaparty.org, Oct. 21, 2014)
Rev. Graham told Campbell Brown of CNN that “true Islam cannot be practiced in this country.” Why? “You can’t beat your wife. You cannot murder your children, if you think they’ve committed adultery or something like that, which they do practice in these other countries.” (“Graham disinvited from prayer event over Islam comments,” By the CNN Wire Staff, Apr. 23, 2010)
He also said, “They teach that you’re to kill Jews and you’re to kill Christians . . . And the U.N. and others have been helping to support this. And I think we’re going to have to take a close look at this.” And “the United States gives money to this.” (“Rev. Graham: ‘Islam Is Not a Religion of Peace . . . It is a Violent Form of Faith,’” By Michael W. Chapman, ensnews.com, Jan. 15, 2015)
This apostle of hatred seems bent on avoiding any dialogue with Muslim leaders that would correct misconceptions and create understanding and unity. After the 9/11 attacks against America, Rev. Graham charged, “We’re not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God,” he continued. “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.” (“CAIR: Franklin Graham Repeats Attack on Islam,” PRNewswire-USNewswire, www.prnmewswire.co, Dec. 11
The Religious Tolerance website reported that Rev. Graham’s attack on Islam led “Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)” to sen[d] Graham a letter on November 19, 2001, “stating, in part, ‘I would therefore respectfully request a meeting during which recognized Muslim scholars may offer you information about Islam, particularly Islam’s stance on the rights of women and minorities, that is free of bias and distortions.’“ Awad added, “ ‘At this time of national and international crisis, it is imperative that we come together as people of faith to promote inter-religious understanding and mutual respect.’” The story ends, “There has been no indication that he has responded to the request.” ( ‘ATTACKS ON MUSLIMS BY CONSERVATIVE PROTESTANTS: Graham, Hinn, Falwell, Robertson, Swaggart & Baldwin,” www.religioustolerance.org)
On July 13, 2012, CAIR cited a story aired by “NBC Nightly News,” in which “Graham stood by remarks he made about Islam last month at the dedication of a chapel in North Carolina, repeating the same charge as before, and adding, “I don’t believe this [Islam] is this wonderful, peaceful religion.” CAIR also reported that “Graham issued a statement in which he said: ‘It is not my calling to analyze Islam or any other religions, though I recognize that all religions have differences. In the past,’” he went on, “’I have expressed my concerns about the teachings of Islam regarding the treatment of women and the killing of non-Muslims or infidels.’” But, “he would have no further comments on the issue.” (“Frank Graham claims Islam is “a Very Evil and Wicked Religion,” www.cair.com)
CAIR’s executive director, Nihad Awad, sent a letter to Graham at that time, requesting a meeting, stating, “We have found that negative impressions of Islam are most often based on a lack of accurate and objective information. “ Awad then added, “As God states in the Quran, Islam’s revealed text: ‘O mankind! We created you male and female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know and honor each other (not that you should despise one another).” (Ibid)
Apparently, Rev. Graham has refused to “sit down and reason together,” as Jehovah exhorts in Isaiah 1: 18. On April 20, 2010, a story on CAIR’s website stated, “In the spirit of reconciliation and mutual respect, CAIR has in the past offered to arrange a meeting between Graham and American Muslim leaders to clear up misconceptions about Islam, but Graham never responded to those requests.” (CAIR Action: Ask Pentagon to Drop Anti-Islam Speaker, www.facebook.com)
The last thing Rev. Graham wants to do is clear up any “misconceptions.” Those “misconceptions” are his stock in trade. Clarity would ruin his business—literally. Many Americans – and a number of politicians and certain Pentagon and other military staff—are counting on such “misconceptions.”
The political, military, industrial, energy, intelligence sectors are not the only ones profiting from endless war. Rev. Graham’s Islamophobia indicates that much of evangelical Christianity can be added as another sector to that complex. It is about making profits, not being prophets. About winning Christian converts, not creating human community.
Rev. Graham said, “My calling is not to analyze Islam.” It is as if his denial makes his “analyzing” vanish. Actually, he has not been “analyzing Islam,” but stereotyping it, which reveals much about the rigidity and hostility of his own “Jesus died for our sins” fundamentalist belief. If he had been “analyzing Islam,” he would have read the “Executive Summary” of the 120-some international Muslim scholars, which was included in their “Open Letter” that condemned the Islamic State, or ISIS. The “Executive Summary” lists 24 Islamic teachings, based on the Qur’an, including,
It is forbidden in Islam to kill the innocent.
It is forbidden in Islam to kill emissaries, ambassadors, and diplomats; hence it is forbidden to kill journalists and aid workers.
Jihad in Islam is defensive war. It is not permissible without the right cause, the right purpose and without the right rules of conduct.
It is forbidden in Islam to harm or mistreat– in any way– Christians or any ‘People of the Scripture.”
It is obligatory to consider Yazidis as People of the Scripture.
The introduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus.
It is forbidden in Islam to force people to convert.
It is forbidden in Islam to deny women their rights.
It is forbidden in Islam to torture people.
It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God.
Loyalty to one’s nation is permissible in Islam. (“Muslim Scholars Release Open Letter To Islamic State Meticulously Blasting Its Ideology, Ibid)
Rev. Franklin’s rigid emotional need for rightness of belief and self-justification help to explain his hatred toward people who, in his mind, become The Other. In an interview on Charlotte’s WCOS TV 9, when the interviewer told him that an Imam said his words “are harsh and offensive,” Graham’s denial kicked in. He replied, “The truth sometimes is offensive, isn’t it? So, I’m just telling the truth.” He then said, “I want that Imam to know that God does love him and Jesus Christ died for his sins.” Graham went on, “I want all Muslims to know that God loves them and cares for them. . . . I care for the Muslims, love them very much.” (“Franklin Graham: ‘I am trying to warn America, warn Duke University,’” Jan. 15, 2015)
Graham has no idea just how offensive such words are to the identity and integrity of Muslims. His paternalism and arrogance prevent him from realizing that his “I care for the Muslims, love them very much” is actually a subtle way of swearing at them. If he truly loved them, he would value and honor what is important to them, not require them to be like him. Instead, he tramples on their integrity with sanctimonious words.
In the WCOS TV 9 interview, rather than “truth”- telling, Rev. Graham did violence to the truth. He said, “For ten years, it’s been the Muslims that have been fighting and destroying and burning the Middle East, and they’ll destroy the whole Middle East. And,” he continued, “this war isn’t over yet. It’s going to continue for years to come. . . . And it’s going to come to this country.” Graham’s next statement flew in the face of reality. “President Bush was wise enough to try to fight the enemy overseas. Unfortunately, we are taking our guard down, and will be dealing with this in this country soon.” (Ibid)
There was no “enemy overseas” threatening America with a “fight.” President George W. Bush launched an unnecessary, war against Afghanistan, and then a falsely-based, pre-emptive criminal war against non-threatening, sanctions-weakened Iraq. Which, contrary to Bush administration lies, had no weapons of mass destruction, nor ties to 9/11. America has committed horrible war crimes against the Iraqi people. Hundreds of thousands, to over a million, civilians killed. Some four-and-a-half million displaced. Possible two million widows, and some five million orphans. (See, “Iraq’s Shocking Human Toll: About l Million Killed, 4.5 Million Displaced, 1-2 Million Widows, 5 Million Orphans, By John, Tirman, Alternet, Feb. 1, 2009) The country’s life-sustaining infrastructure decimated.
The American-led invasion and occupation also triggered severe sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Iraqis. And this violence gave birth to the rise of ISIS, which is the primary achievement of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (See, “ISIS: the inside story,” by martin Chulov, The Guardian, Dec. 11, 2014)
Another result of the criminal Iraqi war: the grieving in hundreds of thousands of American homes for dead and “wounded warriors.” The waste of our country’s resources. Also, ironically, our National Guard has created horrible destructive fires overseas, when it have been needed to put out wild fires in our own West—and protect people from floods in our Midwest.
And who was waiting in the wings to show up in the aftermath of the criminal invasion of Iraq to convert Muslins to Christ—that is, those fortunate enough to still be alive? Rev. Franklin Graham, who, along with other prominent white evangelical Christian leaders, was reported as “claiming that the American invasion of Iraq would create new prospects for proselytizing Muslims.” (“Wayward Christian Soldiers,” By Charles Marsh, The New York Times, Jan. 20, 2006)
Rev. Graham’s international aid organization, Samaritan’s Purse, followed in the wake of the devastating American-led invasion of Iraq, to pick up the pieces: providing relief for the sick and hungry and homeless—vulnerable victims who were ripe for proselytizing. Early on Graham, reported to be “one of the nation’s outspoken critics of Islam,” was quoted as saying “he has relief workers ‘poised and ready’ to roll into Iraq to provide for the population’s post-war physical and spiritual needs.”
He also said, “I believe as we work, God will always give us opportunities to tell others about his Son. . . . We are there to reach out to love them and to save them, and as a Christian I do this in the name of Jesus Christ.” (“Group to Aid, Proselytize in Postwar Iraq, By Deborah Caldwell, abcNEWS, March 27, 2003)
Rev. Graham saw Iraq as “creating exciting new opportunities for proselytizing Muslims,” not as a horrible war crime committed by the Bush administration against the people of Iraq. He was like a vulture circling overhead, ready to swoop down on its stricken prey, ripe for the pickings. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is quoted as having said about Graham: “This is a guy who gave the Invocation at President Bush’s Inauguration and believes Islam is a wicked faith. And he’s going into Iraq in the wake of an invading army and convert people to Christianity? Nothing good is coming of that.” (Ibid)
Rev. Graham’s self-deception is classic. His magical, Christifying words enable him to conceal himself from himself. Another case in point is his chastising President Obama for reminding everyone at the recent National Prayer Breakfast that, ”during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” and “in our own country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often were justified in the name of Christ.” (“Remarks by the President at National Prayer Breakfast, www.whitehouse.gov, Feb. 5, 2015) Graham took to his Facebook to respond: “Mr. President- Many people in history have used the name of Jesus Christ to accomplish evil things for their own desires. But,” he said, “Jesus taught peace, love and forgiveness. He came to give his life for the sins of mankind, not to take life. Mohammed, on the other hand,” he continued, “was a warrior and killed many innocent people.” Then his point: “True followers of Christ emulate Christ—true followers of Mohammed emulate Mohammed.” (www.facebook,com/Franklin Graham/posts)
Jesus may have “taught peace, love and forgiveness. But that is obviously not what Rev. Graham is about. His embracing of the criminal war against Iraq and blessing of war criminal George W. Bush speak for themselves. And his angry response to Duke University’s recent attempt at interfaith cooperation came from a place where “peace, love and forgiveness” do not dwell.
Duke, a United Methodist-affiliated institution, flirted with real affirmation of its 700 Muslim students by deciding to allow them to issue their call to prayer on Fridays from the chapel bell tower. According to the vice president for student affairs and government relations Michael Schoenfeld, the aim “was meant to be unifying,” but “was turned into the opposite.” He said that “the university received hundreds of calls and e-mails, many of which were quite vitriolic . . . unlike any other controversy we have seen here in sometime.” (“Duke University reverses decision, will not allow Muslim call to prayer at its chapel,” By Adam Bell, www.charlotteobserver.com, 1/15/2015)
Rev. Graham spearheaded the “vitriolic” reaction against Duke University’s attempt at interfaith respect and unity. His wrote words on his Facebook page that were not about “peace, love and forgiveness”: “As Christianity is being excluded from the public space and the followers of Islam are raping, butchering and beheading Christians, Jews and anyone else who doesn’t submit to Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism,” Graham said, and called on “donors and alumni to withhold their support from Duke until this policy is reversed.”
Then followed more Facebook words from Rev. Graham, lacking “peace, love and forgiveness.” He stated, “Will evangelical Christians be allowed the same three minutes weekly to broadcast the message across campus that God Almighty of the Bible sent His Son Jesus Christ to offer forgiveness of sins and salvation to all who will repent, believe, and call on His Name?” He added, “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14: 6).”
A News & Observer headline stated, “Rebuked by Graham, Duke University cancels bell tower broadcast of Muslim call to prayer.” The newspaper quoted “Mohammed Banawan, administrator at the Muslim American Society of Charlotte,” who “decried Graham’s earlier statements, saying, ‘Those comments are trying to incite hatred.’” (By Bruce Siceloff and Adam Bell, Jan. 15, 2015) United Methodist leaders especially should have publicly denounced Graham’s hateful divisiveness—as should have other faith leaders.
For years, Duke’s Muslim students have been holding services in the basement of the chapel without incident. All hell broke loose when they were finally allowed to use the chapel’s bell tower for three minutes to issue their call to prayer. Evidently, with access to the chapel’s bell tower, they were getting above themselves– too close to the “Christian God.”
One month after the Duke controversy, 11 miles away, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, three Muslim students, a young married couple and the wife’s 19-year-old sister, were shot in the head, execution style, by a 46-year-old white man, over what police, at this point, are calling a parking dispute. Never mind that the father of the two daughters said, “My daughter, Yusor, honest to God, told us on more than two occasions that this man came knocking at the door and fighting about everything with a gun in his belt, more than twice . . . She told us, ‘Daddy, I think he hates us for who we are and how we look.’” (“3 students shot to death in apartment near UNC Chapel Hill,” By Saeed Ahmed and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN.com, Feb. 11, 2015)
A New York Times story seemed to imply a connection between the murder of the three Muslim students and Rev. Graham. The story stated, “The fatal shooting occurred in Chapel Hill, an area where “many Muslims . . . said they have been on edge in recent weeks. . . . Tensions have been rising since the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris.” The story’s next words tie in Duke and Graham: “Last month Duke University abruptly canceled plans to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer on Fridays, citing security concerns, after Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, raised vehement objections on Facebook.” (“Chapel Hill Shooting Leaves 3 Muslims Dead, By Jonathan M. Katz and Richard Perez-Pena, Feb. 12, 2015)
North Carolina NAACP president Rev. William Barber, made the connection between the controversy at Duke University, made volatile by Rev. Graham’s divisive words, and the murder of the three aspiring Muslim young people nearby. In a News & Observer story, Lynn Bonner wrote, “The Rev. William Barber . . . is connecting the recent controversy over the Muslim call to prayer at Duke University to the homicides of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill this week.” In his prayer for the students, “Barber talked about a climate hostile to Muslims that is ‘creating the insane atmosphere that triggers the hate of so many.’” He “criticized ‘those claiming to be faith leaders’ for challenging Muslim students’ right to pray publicly.” He “called the homicides ‘the worst of our fears’ coming true. ‘The fear of what can happen when students’ right to pray publicly is challenged even by those claiming to be faith leaders as though this will contaminate our purity and threaten our own faith.’” While Barber did not name Graham in the prayer, he “did in an interview. ‘It was so bothersome for Franklin Graham to come out as few weeks ago against prayer,’ he said.” (“State NAACP president connects Chapel Hill killings to Duke prayer controversy,” Feb. 13, 2015)
America’s mainstream media were slow in covering the murder of the three Muslim students. A news story from a foreign newspaper pointed out this fact. The story, written by Mashaal Mir and appearing in the Independent, makes this point with its headline: “Chapel Hill shooting: Would the media have covered the tragedy if Twitter didn’t exist. And what would have happened if the murderer was Muslim?” Mir wrote that American Muslims are “upset because nobody really cared about the story until it trended on Twitter, and because of the slow response by the western media and silence from politicians.” (Feb. 13, 2015)
Revealing is the dominant America press’s apparent lack of follow-up after their initial coverage of the murders. For example, little investigative coverage has appeared in The New York Times after its February 12, 2015 story on “Chapel Hill Shooting Leaves 3 Muslims Dead.” There would seem to be investigative stories to pursue. Like, analyzing the progress of the F.B.I.’s inquiry into the murders. And, as reported, researching the statement of “Manzoor Cheema, co-founder of the Raleigh-based Muslims for Social Justice,” who “linked the shootings to what he called a ‘rising tide of Islamophobia in the state and region,’” and said, ‘”We are seeing multiple cases of attacks against Muslims in North Carolina that are very troubling.” (“Shooting deaths of young Muslims leave North Carolina community reeling,” By Colleen Jenkins, www.reuters.com, February 11, 2015) Such investigative reporting would shift the focus of President Obama’s program on “countering violent extremism”: from Muslims to America’s own homegrown patriotic and Christocentric extremists—which is taboo.
Rev. Graham’s response to the murders of the three young Muslims reveals how religious-coated words and prayer can be used to not only deny complicity in a crime, but express sorrow for the victims. The prominent role he has played in creating “violent extremism” against Muslim people is believed to have motivated him to write the following words on his Facebook page:
I was saddened to hear of the senseless killing of three Muslim college students in Chapel Hill, N.C. yesterday. Reportedly the shooter had an ongoing argument with them about parking. How tragic that such a minor disagreement could claim the lives of innocent people. Pray especially for their families and all those grieving. (www.facebook.com’Franklin Graham/post)
This is the same apostle of hatred who vilifies and turns people into The Other with a quote from his imperialistic gospel, and then reassures everyone—and himself—with, “I want Muslims everywhere to know that God loves them, and that Jesus Christ died for their sins.” “I care for the Muslims, love them very much. “ “I want them to know that we do love them. And I really mean that. (“Franklin Graham: ‘I am trying to warn America, warn Duke University,’” WSOVTV.com, Jan. 15, 2015)
“I love the people of Islam.” How can Rev. Graham love a person who professes a different belief—or 1.6 billion such persons? It is easy. He loves that they could believe and become like him—which would further legitimize him, increase his power over people and extend his evangelistic enterprise.
The way he quotes The Bible, you would think it is the Word of God. He knows “God loves Muslims the way he does—not as ends in themselves with their own integrity and rightful beliefs and practices, but as means toward his sectarian ends– well, “God’s” ends, of course, which are actually his ends.
President Obama’s summit on “Countering Violent Extremism” must focus on this apostle of hatred, and other Christocentrics like him—and their patriotic “American exceptionalism” counterparts – if it is to really combat violent extremism. Sadly, I do not believe the aim is to “Counter Violent Extremism”—but to cover it up. The focus is primarily on people who oppose America’s imperialistic foreign policy, which conveniently serves to distract attention from the criminal violence that Washington has unleased against Afghanistan and Iraq and other countries in the Middle East, and elsewhere.
If President Obama really wanted to “counter violent extremism,” George W. Bush and warmongering members of his administration would have been in the docket years ago. Obama himself would also be there, and held accountable for continuing America’s so-called “war on terrorism” with his drone warfare, that violates the national sovereignty of other countries, fills their skies with constant fear, and kills innocent children, women and men. All of which guarantees unending war and endless profit for the political/military/industrial/energy/ intelligence/religious complex.
A key teaching of Jesus that Rev. Graham often quotes reveals much about the apostle of hatred. That teaching is not about “peace, love and forgiveness.” This favorite teaching emphasizes rightness of belief, not the right to believe as one chooses. It stresses uniqueness of faith, not faith in everyone’s uniqueness. It values exceptionalism over egalitarianism. It prizes individual salvation over social justice. It is about Christianizing, not humanizing. This assumed teaching of Jesus that Graham uses to turn Muslims into The Other is found in John 14: 6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
When it comes to Muslim people, one does not hear Rev. Graham quote other teachings of Jesus. Like, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 39) Or, Jesus’s teachings in his Sermon on the Mount, such as “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) And, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5: 9)
There is far more to Christianity and Islam than what is in The Bible and The Qur’an. *It is also about what is in us. Jesus taught, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit . . .” (Matthew 7: 15-17)
In a like manner, The Qur’an teaches, “Godliness and virtue is not that you should turn your faces in the direction of the east and west; but he is godly and virtuous who believes in God and the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the Prophets, and gives away of his property with pleasure . . . to relatives, orphans, the destitute, the wayfarer, and for those who have to beg (or need a loan), and for the liberation of slaves . . .” (2: 177)
A politician also teaches that the bottom line is what we do, not what we believe. New Jersey Senator Corey Booker says,
Don’t speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people.
Don’t tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all of God’s children.
Don’t preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors.
In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you chose to live and give. (www.gurteen.com)
Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D., a former hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center, is both a Unitarian Universalist and United Methodist minister. His new book, The Counterpunching Minister (who couldn’t be “preyed” away) is now published and available on Amazon.com. The book’s Foreword, Drawing the Line, is written by Counterpunch editor, Jeffrey St. Clair. Alberts is also author of A Hospital Chaplain at the Crossroads of Humanity, which “demonstrates what top-notch pastoral care looks like, feels like, maybe even smells like,” states the review in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.