Amid an outcry over Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the country, prominent evangelist Franklin Graham has come out in support of the Republican presidential candidate’s plan, saying that he has been advocating a similar stance for months.
“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 wrote on Facebook on Wednesday. “Donald J. Trump has been criticized by some for saying something similar. The new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said yesterday that he disagrees — saying that ‘such views are not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for.’
“Politicians in Washington seem to be totally disconnected with reality.”
In July, Graham, the son of Billy Graham, wrote on Facebook that the country should “should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled.” That post came after four Marines and a sailor were fatally shot at military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn., by a Kuwait-born U.S. citizen from a conservative Muslim family.
“Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized — and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad,” Graham wrote at the time. “During World War 2, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now?”
Graham has long been an outspoken critic of Islam, the Religion News Service reported:
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he called Islam a “very evil and wicked religion” and last year called Islam “a false religion.” In 2010, he apologized after questioning President Obama’s Christian faith, saying he was “born a Muslim … and the Islamic world sees the president as one of theirs.”
“Basically for years, since 9/11, he has waged a campaign against Islam, against the rights of Muslims,” Khalilah Sabra, executive director of the Muslim American Society Immigrant Justice Center, told RNS in January.
Graham’s comments in July were criticized by others in the evangelical community.
“I was so sad when I read the Facebook posting of Franklin Graham,” said Bob Roberts Jr., an evangelical pastor in Texas, according to RNS. “This is not ‘evangelical’ and even less evangelistic. I don’t want American Muslims to think we fear them or that they are our enemies.”
Graham, whose Facebook post about Trump had been shared more than 50,000 times by Thursday morning, could not immediately be reached for comment.
“Our politicians are not listening to the truth — my prayer is that God will open their eyes,” he wrote Wednesday. “This affects our security and the future of our nation.”
Earlier this week, Trump called for “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” His proposal was met with widespread criticism, including from Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, who called it “reckless, demagogic rhetoric.”
“Most evangelicals understand the difference between the peaceful Muslims and those who are violently waging war against us, because we’re a people on mission,” Moore told NPR. “We have Muslim neighbors and Muslim friends, and we understand how to love them, treat them with dignity, even as we disagree and have those conversations.
“The evangelicals I know are people who believe that everyone is made in the image of God, and so people even if they hold unpopular religious views aren’t to be treated as political footballs. They’re to be treated as human beings, and treated with respect and dignity.”