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Franklin Graham rebuts pope on Islam: ‘This is a war of religion’

Franklin Graham at his office at Samaritan's Purse in Boone, N.C., on Feb. 8, 2016. Religion News Service photo by Paul Sherar

(RNS) Pope Francis is once again making headlines for comments declaring, as he has before, that Islam is not “terroristic” and that all religions, including Catholicism, have “fundamentalist” splinter groups that can commit violence.

The pontiff made his comments during a flight back to Rome on Sunday (July 31) from Poland, where he was presiding over the church’s triennial World Youth Day festival.

Asked about the brutal slaying of an elderly priest in France who was killed by two Muslim teens while he was saying Mass, Francis said “the world is at war” but it is not a war of religion.

“Some might think it is war of religion. It is not. All religions want peace. Others want war,” the pope said.

The pontiff drew both praise and condemnation for his remarks. Among his critics, the Rev. Franklin Graham.

“I agree that the world is at war — but I disagree that it’s not a war of religion,” Graham, son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham, wrote in a Facebook post Sunday. “It is most certainly a war of religion.”

He continued:

“Religion is behind the violence and jihad we’re seeing in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and here in this country. It’s a religion that calls for the extermination of ‘infidels’ outside their faith, specifically Jews and Christians. It’s a religion that calls on its soldiers to shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is Great’ in Arabic) as they behead, rape, and murder in the name of Islam. Radical Islamists are following the teachings of the Quran. We should call it what it is.”

Graham has long been a sharp critic of Islam, having called for a ban on allowing Muslims to enter the U.S. even before Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump adopted that position. Graham also backed Wheaton College’s efforts to fire a professor for suggesting that Muslims worshiped the same God as Christians.


READ: US cardinal says ‘Christian nations’ in West must counter Islamic influx


And Francis’ views are not endorsed by everyone in his own church, or even the Catholic hierarchy.

U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, a former Vatican official who is based in Rome, told RNS last month that Islam “wants to govern the world” and Americans must decide if they are going to reassert “the Christian origin of our own nation” in order to avoid submission to Muslim rule.

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.

76 Comments

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  • “Americans must decide if they are going to reassert “the Christian origin of our own nation”

    aka calls for Christian Sharia. This is the same guy who thinks progressive Christians, atheists and gays are all going to hell and have no rights.

    The same guy who actively opposes the free exercise of religion

    http://religionnews.com/2015/01/16/duke-cancels-muslims-friday-call-prayer-franklin-graham-leads-revolt/

    What a great spokeperson for ISIS they have with Franklin Graham.

  • For probably the first time in my life, I agree with Franklin graham, as far as he is capable of telling the truth. But not in any sense do I think he is right.

    There is indeed a religious war going on: the ultra religious against everyone who that they perceive as not having the right religion, not believing the same right things that they believe, not hating the same people they hate, not being willing to use the coercive power of the state on those they call enemies of God, not condemning the people they have decided that God hates, not slandering and reviling people who are different, and on and on and on.

    There is indeed a war going on. The oppressors are those who wish to use their religion as a club against others, refuse to live in peace with their neighbors unless the neighbors capitulate, who Will abuse the democratic process if they have the opportunity, and who will definitely use God to justify what cannot be justified by any other means

  • …….Franklin Graham is an apostate and an embarrassment to the Gospel and his father’s legacy……..

  • Umm….don’t the gospels claim “raise up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart” ?

    It certainly has appeared for a long time that BillyBob Graham has done that. BillyBob is a liar, an anti-Semite, an ass-kisser of those with political power; he was a proud member of the First Church of Dallas, which was proudly anti-black. Even some well-known konservative Kristians have pointed out Billybob’s silence on the matter of Racism. It looks like he’s raised a very stupid, hatful, ill-informed son.

    The irony here is that dopes like FranklinBob actually help fuel the tension and misunderstanding betw religious groups–including, of course, intra-Xian misunderstanding.

  • Here is a link to a NYTimes “explainer” piece about the links between religion and violence that I thought was extremely useful and informative, in this context specifically, and more generally:

    http://nyti.ms/2ab9u9r

    Spuddie and Oakland Ben, I think you will find this article particularly interestg.

  • You hate Jesus, Ben? ” the ultra religious against everyone who that they perceive as not having the right religion, not believing the same right things that they believe, not hating the same people they hate, not being willing to use the coercive power of the state on those they call enemies of God, not condemning the people they have decided that God hates, not slandering and reviling people who are different, and on and on and on.” God has made Himself very clear, except to those who wish to defy Him. He gives some the excuse that satan has blinded them: 2 Corinthians 4:4 – New International Version
    “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

    What you fail to think about is the Great Commission, in your efforts to demean – I hope too strong a word – “… All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you….” So you would have Christians defy the living God, rather than help some people to find Him? Think about your words, Ben!

  • Since when is being honest hatemongering? I am doing my duty to point out the sins of others so that they may learn from their errors and see the true path. 🙂

  • “You’d need to know Jesus first, Spud? Interested?”

    How do you know I don’t already. 🙂

    You know your sins. Now reflect on them. A good Samaritan does not need to know Jesus to act for the benefit of others.

    There is nothing hateful about telling you how sinful your behavior is with the hope that you sin no more. After all all sins are alike and worthy of damnation if not addressed. 🙂

  • Yes, but as I said, you don’t know Jesus – hence you don’t understand sin. I suppose I should have just put it that way. Sorry. Do you want to understand Jesus more? Start with the book of John.

  • You claim so, but how would you know? As a Christian you should be able to recognize your own sins. But you do not. How sad. 🙁

  • We aren’t discussing my sins….we are discussing your lack of knowledge about sin, hence you are unable to discern responsibly. I’m trying to help you.

  • I was discussing your sins. The sins of certain Christians who seek political power with their pride, arrogance, and malice towards a free and democratic society, and those who support them.

    I am trying to help you. But you are so wrapped up in calling me a hatemonger to realize, I only mean well. I am not being hateful. I am simply pointing out those sins you have in the hope you can stop doing so. For your own soul. I can’t help it if you are awash with sin and unrepentant. That will be between you and Satan when you finally meet him. It looks like you are clearly heading in that direction unless you reflect upon your behavior.

  • But, if I did not identify you as a hate-monger, you would not understand the concept of sin, which you so clearly do not. John – the book of John – will help you, Spud.

  • Now you are bearing false witness. Ooooh. One of the big sins. The book of John clearly is not helping you reflect and understand your wicked behavior. You are clearly on a path to perdition.

    OK I am done trolling you with typical self righteous hypocritical language typical of nosybodies of a certain religious stripe. Irony requires a level of self awareness.

  • Nah, just messing with you. I can’t help it if the agenda of certain Christians makes them bad Americans. 🙂

  • I wouldn’t know. I’m not american. But you are right, there are some Americans/Canadians who think homosexuality should be endorsed, contrary to Christ’s teaching – leading one to really wonder if they are saved, or wanting to care for people in their respective countries.
    Too bad for you that your view of anything doesn’t include Jesus though. blessings Spud. (edited)

  • …….everything word coming out of his mouth demonstrates he uses the New Testament as toilet tissue………he demonstrates NO humility within him………..

  • With these views Graham demonstrates yet again that he does not understand Islam. He should stick to his area of expertise in evangelism and leave world religions and terror radicalization studies to the scholars. Evangelicals have to do better in a post-9/11 world.

  • Same old blah, blah, blah. God doesn’t do crap. Followers want unbelievers to believe or the boogie man will get you. And believers hope god gets you. Believers can’t wait for you to die, go to hell and be tormented forever. Then they can say I told so from heaven.

  • ……..read anything he has said or written about Islam…….he is patently ignorant on the topic and just spews hate……I’ve known and worked with many of the notables in his Dad’s organization……he isn’t worthy of their association……

  • We have over 10,000 murders each year in the US
    Many of those murders were committed by people who say they are Christians or come from Christian backgrounds.
    Should we conclude that CHRISTIANITY IS A RELIGION OF VIOLENCE??

  • No, dear. I do not hate Jesus, anymore than I hate unicorns, banshees, or chupacabras.

    I have no problem at all with Jesus. But those of his followers who over-identify with him, and think they are his BFFF– well, there I have some distaste.

    But hate? No.

  • Franklin Graham’s problem has always been his religion is the only religion and everyone else is wrong.Gandhi said it best,” I like who Jesus was,but I have problems with his followers.”

  • Re: “You hate Jesus, Ben?”

    Just curious: On the basis of what evidence, exactly, did you conclude Ben “hates Jesus”?

  • John, it saddens me to say you are only half-right. Don’t take offense: you should have added that Billybob’s son also does not understand Christianity. Or anyway, has an “understanding” of Xianity that is as badly perverted as the understanding that ISIS et al have of Islam.

    BillyBob was a racist, a Jew hater, a liar, a person who sucked up to power. He passed those traits on to his son.

  • PsiCop: like all evangelicals, Sandi has the ability to read minds.

    Much easier to do that an try to understand a book as complicated as the NT.

  • To borrow a phrase from the right-wing nuts, there’s something Billybob’s son FranklinBob “doesn’t want you to know”.

    And that is this: numerous mainstream Muslim leaders have issued statements clearly condemning violence done in the name of Islam.

    It would not take more than 60 seconds in front of a computer to learn this.

    Doesn’t FranklinBob’s beloved bible tell readers “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”?

    So, given how easy it is to bring people “the truth”, why has he not done that?

    Simple. Because FranklinBob’s perversion of Christianity relies heavily on hate. People who know the truth–and more important, who revere truth, unlike all evangelicals– are gonna laugh at him. Worse, they’re gonna stop giving him money.

  • Sandi, you mean, 25% is not a great commission? OK, 50% is pretty good, isn’t it?

    Sandi, when are you gonna give up your foolish beliefs? How do you believe all this drivel when there is not an iota of support for any of it in the real world?

    How do you decide what to believe, and what not to believe, if you have no empirical evidence?

    Umm…I bet you don’t believe either in global climate change or evolution….

  • “You don’t think Jesus’s word should be followed?”

    I’d give worlds to see so much of what passes for Christianity doing that. But you don’t.

    “He hates his people.” That is your fanatasy– misspelling intentional. Like a good Christian, I don’t hate you, I hate what so many of you do. Frankie Graham is a great example. Judgmentalism, hard heartedness, greedy, money grubbing, spiritual arrogance, power hungry, credulous, ignorance is knowledge and proud of it, hypocrisy, moralizing busybodies, slandering, reviling, projection, mind reading, sour souled, willing to lay burdens on others you don’t accept for yourselves.

    Did I leave anything out? Probably.

    the words of Jesus pretty much boil down to “believe what I believe or burn in hell forever.” If that’s the glory of the gospel, I think I’ll pass.

  • Re: “Much easier to do that an try to understand a book as complicated as the NT.”

    Actually the NT isn’t really all that complicated. It’s written mostly in pedestrian language in its oldest-known form (i.e. κοινη or koiné Greek). It does contain small bits of what was, in its own time, jargon (e.g. the λογος or logos in John 1), and a lot of that could have been taken in varying ways (and was!). But for the most part, it’s rather simple stuff. It was intended as such.

    So really, Christians don’t have any valid excuse for not doing what they’re told in the pages of the NT. Historically, however, they have quite petulantly refused to follow its dictates, to the point where they invent any number of bizarre rationales for not doing so.

  • But you consider Christ saying that homosexuality is a sin, judging. So, how would you expect a Christian to react to you, when you sell something that isn’t Christianity and is against God’s word? I would rather see you go to Heaven Ben. It is a hard life here, but it is a good life afterward. I’d like that for you.

  • “The oppressors are those who wish to use their religion as a club against others, refuse to live in peace with their neighbors unless the neighbors capitulate, who Will abuse the democratic process if they have the opportunity, and who will definitely use God to justify what cannot be justified by any other means”

    Matthew 28:16-20English Standard Version (ESV)

    The Great Commission

    16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    Can you put it together yet?

  • That’s an outstanding summation Ben. Islamicists, Christianists, radical Jewish settlers, Hindus murdering Muslims in India, etc. Extremes in religions is an unrelenting human condition that universally harms the species.

  • There are a YouTube video I recommend.
    One video explains how The Golden Rule is #1 – it is a LAW from God, not just a rule, and #2 is found in all the major – and many “minor” – Faiths of God.
    And another YouTube video that gives details of the several instances in the Bible wherein Muhammad and/or His Faith, Islam, is foretold.

    Here are the web addresses:
    For “The Golden Rule: It’s the Law” go to “https://youtu be/zSnK8Vr1PyM” [add “.” between “u” and “b” (ex. youtu.be) – Note: remove “” marks in web address]; and,

    For “The Prophet Muhammad Foretold in the Bible” go to “https://youtu be/HOLJsB5IlS8” [add “.” between “u” and “b”(ex. youtu.be) – Note: remove “” marks in web address].

    We must get over this fetish that God only loves “me and my people”, but rather that God loves all humanity and has spiritually guided all the peoples on the planet through the millennia. The fact that we, the people, misconstrue, use, and abuse the pure teachings from God in foolish, violent, &/or evil ways is the fault of us humans, not God. Free will, y’know!

  • Ben:

    And those are FranklinBob’s *good* points! HAHAHA!

    Nice summary of the beliefs & behavior of Billybob’s son.

  • As much as I am indifferent to casting aspersions on Franklin, nor do I have much to say in Billy’s favor, I would like to see the source of such an assertion. Otherwise it is merely being defamatory for its own sake.

  • Ah yes – it wouldn’t be a day without nasty christian Franklin babbling on about one of his two hatreds: Islam and the LGBT thing. What does Islam have to do with Frank’s particular brand of superstitious gibberish? How does it affect his ability to yammer on to the masses about the man-god? And what is Frank so worried about? He’s always saying his god answers all prayers (but doesn’t always give the answer the christian wants). Here ya’ go, straight from the horse’s mouth (November 17, 2015 FB and Twitter post by Frank):

    “Does God hear prayers? Does God answer prayers? The answer is yes—absolutely! He does not necessarily answer prayer according to our desires or wishes, though. That’s why it is important for us to pray for His will to be done.”

    All Frank has to do is pray to his god to smite the muslims (and the gays and anybody else that doesn’t cotton to Frank’s nasty brand of supterstious twaddle). Voila!

    P.S. Of course, if you believe Frank, prayer is meaningless – Frank’s god is going to do what Frank’s god is going to do. Prayer for Frank’s god to do what Frank’s god is going to do is utterly pointless. But it’s clear why Frank said that it’s best just to pray for his god’s will to be done – that way, when the prayer doesn’t work, as they almost never do, the christian can just say “it was god’s will.” Except when what turns out is the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage. Then it’s NOT god’s will, notwithstanding that Frank and a whole passel of nasty christians prayed for their god to turn the Court the other way. Weird how that works.

  • Aaaah, so nice to see the perversion of Christianity in action by fake Xians. Thank you for showing all of us what self-proclaimed Christians are like.

  • More mind-reading, Kadow?

    Let’s see: you’re a mind-reader, you spit in Jesus’ face with every word you write, you don’t do too well at writing literate English sentences….what are your other talents?

  • Waste your time any way you’d like….but I sure think a better use of your time would be to read some elementary stuff about science–what it is, how it’s done, why it’s done, etc.

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