By Bob Allen
Evangelist Franklin Graham says he agrees with presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to bar Muslims from entering the United States, an idea Graham himself surfaced in July after the fatal shooting of four Marines by a naturalized U.S. citizen in Chattanooga, Tenn.
“For some time I have been saying that Muslim immigration into the United States should be stopped until we can properly vet them or until the war with Islam is over,” Graham, head of both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the charity Samaritan’s Purse, said Dec. 9 on Facebook.
The son of revered evangelist Billy Graham said politicians like House Speaker Paul Ryan who are criticizing Trump “seem to be totally disconnected with reality.”
Both Graham and Trump cited statistics from the Center for Security Policy claiming that 25 percent of Muslims in the U.S. believed violence against America was justified “as part of the global jihad.” The Center for Security Policy is a conservative think tank founded by former Reagan administration staffer Frank Gaffney Jr., who has been accused of Islamophobia.
“Our politicians are not listening to the truth,” Graham said. “My prayer is that God will open their eyes. This affects our security and the future of our nation.”
Graham posted on Facebook July 17 denouncing the death of four Marines and wounding of three others in attacks carried out “by a radical Muslim whose family was allowed to immigrate to this country from Kuwait.”
“We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad,” Graham wrote in July. “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,” he continued. “During World War 2, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now?”
Trump’s proposal to temporarily close U.S. borders to Muslims was broadly condemned by evangelical leaders including the Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore.
“I think it’s ridiculous, and insanity,” Moore said Dec. 9 on Fox News. “I frankly can’t believe we are having this conversation in 2015 in a presidential election.”
Moore, head of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, penned an article about Trump’s plan Dec. 7 saying, “Anyone who cares an iota about religious liberty should denounce this reckless, demagogic rhetoric.”
With a combined salary from his two jobs totaling more than $880,000, Graham is reportedly the highest-paid CEO of any international relief agency based in the U.S.
Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization Graham has led since 1979, is currently processing shoebox gifts filled by volunteers for Operation Christmas Child, an annual event the organization says makes Christmas brighter for impoverished children around the world.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 124 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories. The goal for 2015 is to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 11 million children. The initiative is popular among U.S. Christian congregations.
According to information compiled by the Charlotte Observer from GuideStar, the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations, the $620,000 Graham received in 2013 from Samaritan’s Purse was enough to make him the highest-paid CEO of any international relief agency in the U.S. His compensation from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, a job he inherited from his father, was $258,667.
That’s less than the $1.2 million he received in 2008, before questions by media prompted him to refuse his salary as head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The Charlotte Observer reported in June that Graham’s decision to give up his BGEA salary lasted one year.
Graham has a long track record of comments criticizing Muslims, including blaming the 9/11 attacks on Islam and calling it a “very wicked and evil religion.”