Last week, following objections from groups like the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon formally disinvited evangelist Franklin Graham from their National Day of Prayer event, citing his hateful and alienating rhetoric. Graham has previously called Islam a “wicked and evil” religion, and he recently reiterated his intolerance by claiming Muslims were “enslaved” by their faith.
Graham is slated to speak at another National Day of Prayer event — this time at a Capitol Hill event next Thursday (May 6) hosted by Congress. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on Congress to rescind Graham’s invitation, citing Graham’s “religious intolerance”:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today asked congressional sponsors of a National Day of Prayer event on Capitol Hill to disinvite controversial anti-Islam preacher Franklin Graham, who is scheduled to speak at the May 6 gathering. […]
“CAIR supports the desirable goal of bringing Americans, regardless of their faith traditions, together in prayer,” said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor. “However, a congressional prayer observance should reflect the best of our nation’s ideals. Speakers such as Franklin Graham reflect a message of religious intolerance, rather than the more American message of differing faiths united in shared support of our nation’s founding principles.”
A spokesman for Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), a member of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and the sponsor of the event, has said that the congressman does not plan to rescind Graham’s invitation. In a statement, Aderholt said he is “honored that Franklin will come to Congress to speak and pray for the legislative branch of government on May 6.” Focus on the Family’s James Dobson is also scheduled to attend the event, as is his wife’s group, the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which pulled out of the Pentagon event after Graham was disinvited.
A March poll found that Graham’s views on Islam resonate among Protestant preachers. Forty-seven percent of preachers polled said they agreed with the evangelist’s belief that Islam is a “wicked and evil” religion. Potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum have defended Graham’s radical views.