Franklin Graham speaks at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in Washington, D.C., on May 10, 2007. Photo courtesy of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Franklin Graham calls persecution of Christians 'genocide'

WASHINGTON (RNS) Franklin Graham, son of the famed evangelical preacher Billy Graham, urged fellow Christians to struggle against a "Christian genocide" that he says has killed in greater numbers than most believers can fathom.

Graham, who has been criticized by some evangelicals for calling Islam "evil" and for portraying President Trump as aligned with the Christian church, spoke Wednesday (May 10) at a conference aimed at highlighting an issue many feel is ignored by politicians and the media.

READ: Trump must aid persecuted Christians or his presidency will fail, says Open Doors

"It is safe to say that over 100,000 a year are killed because of their faith in Christ. In the last 10 years that would be close to a million people. It's the equivalent of a Christian genocide," Graham told the World Summit in Defense of Christians.

"I am sure the number of Christians who are in prison or martyred each year would stagger our mind if we really knew what the total number really was. And it would send us to our knees in sorrow and in prayer."

It's not clear what Graham's numbers are based on.

The nonprofit Christian organization Open Doors — which tracks Christian persecution globally, and the increasing number of Middle Eastern Christians who seek safety outside their homelands — estimates that every year around 4,000 Christians are killed because of their faith worldwide.

Genocide is both a moral and legal term, used only a handful of times in U.S. history. Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry applied the label in 2016 to the killings of Christians, Shiite Muslims and Yazidis by the group known as the Islamic State.

But some political leaders and bodies hesitate with the term, because of the specificity of the definition and because its use obligates intervention.

Graham described violence against Christians in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere as part of a larger, global antagonism toward the faith.

"Far more widespread, however, is the discrimination and open hostility that millions of believers encounter every day because of their loyalty to Jesus," Graham, 64, told an audience of about 600 Christians from a variety of denominations and countries.

"In the name of tolerance, Christians are often treated with intolerance because they stand for moral purity and they stand for God's truth. In the name of patriotism, Christians are often treated as unpatriotic because they follow a higher authority, almighty God."

Ahead of his planned rallies in Vancouver and San Juan in recent months, Baptist and other evangelical pastors in Canada and Puerto Rico have publicly denounced Graham for fanning Islamophobia.

The four-day World Summit in Defense of Christians, being held for the first time, features panels and speakers including Vice President Mike Pence, who will address participants on Thursday. Graham's own Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, named for his 98-year-old father, is sponsoring the gathering at a historic, downtown Washington hotel.

To get to their seats for Graham's address, attendees passed between two electronic billboards, each 10 feet tall, scrolling the names of "Martyrs for Christ." Graham and other speakers noted the diversity of Christians assembled, with contingents of Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox.

Preceding Graham at the podium, Pope Francis' representative in the U.S. expressed the pontiff's hopes for the conference. Christians have their differences, said Apostolic Nuncio (ambassador) Christophe Pierre, but they must unite to defend the persecuted among them because "peace triumphs through solidarity."

Also speaking at the opening of the summit: Metropolitan Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and the Rev. Mouneer Hanna Anis, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt, who stressed that Christians have shown love to the killers of their relatives.

"The forgiveness that has been expressed by families of martyrs is the most powerful witness in the face of terrorism," he said.

Forgiveness and Christ's call to love one's enemies were invoked during the evening far more than Islamic militants were blamed for the sufferings of Christians. But Graham, at one point in his 25-minute speech, presented Islamists as threats to Christians globally.

He said the Islamic State fighters who beheaded Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach in 2015 had then promised to conquer Rome.

"This threat to Rome was not just a threat to the Roman Catholic Church but to all Christians everywhere," Graham said.


  1. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission showed the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness opens the way to dialogue rather than polarized positions. And generally speaking .wherever Christians are persecuted, other minorities are also persecuted. Which gives more leverage or a broader base of support in addressing/lobbying/raising basic human rights for all in those countries. It also supports the coalitions that arise at the ground level.

  2. It’s not only Christians who are being persecuted in the Middle East. There is also the plight of the Yazidis and other religious minorities.

  3. Genocide is like having to bake a cake for people you despise, except worse.

  4. And the plight of the sunnis where the Shia are in charge. And the plight of Shia when the Sunni are in charge,

    And then we can start talking about the plight of the native peoples whenever the Christians used to be in charge.

    I’ll take a tall glass of King Leopold of Belgium. With a side of the German colonies in Africa when the desire was for cheap gold and cheap sugar.

    Let a not leave out the .American and european slave traders, and the plight of the native Americans everywhere in two continents,

  5. If only Franklin Graham had enough humanity to care about all persecuted people and not just Christians.

  6. I would like a more authoritative source than Mr. Graham for his numbers. Hyperbolic statements tend to blow up in the speaker’s face. Not that I doubt that Christians are in fact severely persecuted and oppressed in specific places, but as is already noted, other religionists suffer as well. And of course, others are persecuted for reasons that have nothing to do with religion. Humanity’s inhumanity to humanity is not new, it is not news, and it will continue. I tend to believe that in the end, Christianity will ultimately become the whipping boy for the world’s ills. Time will prove the case or not.

  7. CHristians were not put here to fight for their rights. Indeed, as children of wrath the only human right there is is the right to die. Really, after Eden, did humans retain any rights? We are not supposed to be fighting other people at all. If we are being led like lambs to slaughter, let us not forget that we were warned about this.

  8. I complain to God about the persecuted church, not the world. Christian leaders should not be singling out the plight of other Christians, as if the world cares, and Christ followers understand this. Christian leaders sound incredibly self serving when the do that, but the mission is to love and serve others, not the self.

  9. Here is something. God takes care of us who love Him, and we in turn take care of the world. Christians ought to make sure they are serving someone when death comes. If you are fighting for your own rights at the moment, that would be embarrassing. Why do we grasp what we cannot keep to forestall receiving what we cannot lose?

  10. Sadly, though I am a strong Christian of the LEFT persuasion, I do not think that Mr Graham really understands Jesus, very well, or he would speak very differently. I gave up listening to television evangelists years ago. somehow they got lost in money and politics.

  11. Good distinction. But more and more they seem to be insisting that that we as Christians be self-serving.

  12. Franklin Graham is exactly what is wrong with Christianity. Whenever he speaks even if it is in defense of his faith he is condescending to other faiths. People today will not move to his biased reasoning. His world is one of his fathers to whatever he said was accepted.

  13. Paula White prayed over his original numbers and they grew.

  14. If our laws ‘answered to that higher authority’ we would be a christian theocracy (christian sharia law) legally and in every other way. In the puritan colonies that were colonized by England (an anglican theocracy, their goal was a ‘city on a hill’ where all citizens believed exactly the same thing. Failure to espouse those exact beliefs, attend a church, and give money to churches, people could be tortured, jailed, expelled from the state, or hung.

    Every country whose laws demanded belief in the same higher authority has solved the question, what to do with non adherents/non christians/non believers, has answered the question with ‘convert or die’. The extremist christians in this country are not above that here. Once the civil law is gone, there would be no law against it. It’s what the franklin grahams of the world want for us and are making progress getting there.

    What christians see as persecution, is just others pushing back on the christian takeover of america, upholding the two way wall of separation of church and state. If gov’t stayed out of religion but religion could insert themselves in govt policy, it wouldn’t be a wall at all.

  15. “If only Brooks Austin had enough humanity to care about all persecuted people and not just _____________.”

    Franklin Graham has devoted his life to meeting the needs of people around the world and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The eldest son of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham, he serves as President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse… Samaritan’s Purse has met the needs of poor, sick, and suffering people in more than 100 countries.


    Franklin Graham has devoted his life to meeting the needs of people around the world and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The eldest son of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham, he serves as President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Under his leadership, Samaritan’s Purse has met the needs of poor, sick, and suffering people in more than 100 countries. As an evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, he has led crusades around the world.

  17. Franklin Graham has devoted his life to meeting the needs of people around the world and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The eldest son of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham, he serves as President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Under his leadership, Samaritan’s Purse has met the needs of poor, sick, and suffering people in more than 100 countries. As an evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, he has led crusades around the world.

  18. I believe what you say is true to a point.Where the rest of the world disagrees is there is only one religion and that is Christianity. That is basically what I said in my comment. You can do all the wonderful things you mentioned, and you don’t need to condemn others who would do the same as you but thing differently as to their religion.

  19. If only Franklin Graham had enough honesty to acknowledge Christians are not being persecuted in this country, but are persecutors.

  20. [Jesus speaking] John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

    Here is one verse that supports what Rev. Graham preaches. There are others.

  21. Franklin Graham is nothing but a heretical fraud and that’s the best one can say about him. His Daddy was bad, but this piece of garbage is much worse. Heretic, blasphemer, practices sacrilege, and an idolator. His idolatry stems from his heresy of placing the error filled KJV of the Bible over God. He then places himself over the Bible by his blasphemy of declaring he, and only those like him, have the ability to interpret the KJV Bible and ignores its plenitude of errors.

    In addition he and his followers refuse to recognize any and all of the mainstream orthodox Christian Churches. One of his followers, my SBC brother “preacher” brother, calls my church (Episcopal) and others such as the ELCA, Roman, etc nothing but social clubs.

    He also committed treason by giving aid & comfort to the terrorists with ties to the Bundy’s when they invaded & took over the Federal wildlife refuge in Oregon.

    Nothing but a waste of space.

  22. FG spreads nothing by heresy and propaganda just like Daddy. On
    top of that FG is a traitor supporting terrorists who invaded
    government property and causing extensive damage. BTW, my
    Father the son of a SBC preacher and nephew of another
    and I reached the same opinions regarding Daddy and identical to President
    Truman’s opinion.

    Now go away troll.

  23. Franklin Graham needs a dictionary, since he apparently doesn’t know what the word “genocide” means.

  24. Franklin, you lead the crusading Christian Army to the middle-east to stop the genocide !! Need generals…appoint your fundagelical friends and take them with you. I will help donate so you can go.

    The die was cast for the end of widespread Christianity in the middle east when the original crusades failed 800 years ago. Graham is still crying about it.

  25. It means the vending of cakes and the arranging of flowers.

  26. Oh, c’mon. Frankie can’t be all that bad, can he? After all, he is quite wealthy.

  27. He is a poor knockoff of his dad, who had ten times the gravitas that he merits. Even if Billy Graham himself was a homophobe of similar intensity, Billy Graham was a person who primarily build bridges over walls. Younger Graham appears to like walls better than bridges.

  28. Franklin Graham has devoted his life to making money for himself. Samaritan’s Purse is in it for the name they make for themselves. They do nothing for charity.

  29. Me? engage in satire? About fundelibangelists grubbing for money and influence?


    However, there is this, a small paraphrase of one of my favorite authors, Ernest Brahmah, whom no one reads much anymore:

    “Doubtless I should be the possessor of thousands if I made use of the attributes of a televangelist —three hands and two faces.”

  30. I just came across it the other night as I was rereading one of his books for the tenth time in the last 50 years. The actual word he used was “mandarin”.

  31. Please provide evidence for this apparent fraud.

  32. There is nothing wrong with opposing perversion wherever it is found.

  33. Similar to Gandhi’s comment that he liked Christ but not the Christians. Insightful man Gandhi.

  34. That’s exactly why I oppose the holy roller pervert known as Franklin Graham for adulterating the gospel of Christ.

  35. DennisLurvey, For a solid, somewhat elderly, book, try George (not Phillip) Yancey’s “Hostile Environment”. My copy leads off with the aphorism “The only good Christian is a dead one.” It’s well worth reading.
    Let us know if there be any changes to your position as a result of this book.

  36. I don’t think he has ever been accused of being a pervert. And I think he does a pretty good job of preaching Christ and Him crucified. You must have someone else in mind.

  37. To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, every good Christian ought to kick Franklin Graham right in the nuts…

  38. O.K. I had to laugh despite myself. I hate it when I laugh at something that puts others in an unfavorable light. But I would not put Mr. Graham in the same class as Ms. White (ugh.)

  39. There is too much to list here. On the more general level, Jesus tells us that if we are his followers we will not call attention to the gifts we give or the good works we do; not the Franklin Graham way at all! Then there are the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Franklin takes as “salary”. Then there was the time that Lowes home improvement chain had a load of supplies for a disaster recovery service and Samaritan’s Purse backed their truck up to the dock and stole it. And the list goes on.

  40. I guess we will all have to wait until judgment day to see how this plays out, but from my standpoint it sure looks clear that Franklin is perverting the Christian gospel.

  41. we will all have to wait until judgment day to see how this plays out,


    Have a great weekend.

  42. I would not want a joke to take away from the seriousness of the subject. I agree with you, the numbers need to be right and all people persecuted need to be given our attention.

  43. You only further expose your ignorance as you know nothing about my Dad, nor anything about his circumstances, or if he ever felt he was called (he didn’t).

  44. You don’t know a damn thing about me. So troll just go away, far away where you can exchange nonsense with those like you.

  45. I don’t think the relevant question here is if FG is worth the salary, but what is relevant is would he accept such a salary if he were a faithful disciple of Christ Jesus.
    Also, I do not have the numbers before me, and I am not going to take the time to go look for them, but I believe the 414 thousand that thee refers to is only one of at least two salaries that FG draws. In other words, he is a double dipper.

  46. So here we have another self declared holier than thou arbitrator of “the truth”, commonly known as another wing-nut evangelical and follower of the heretics Calvin & Cromwell. I’ve had more than enough of their anti-Christian behavior and the venom they spew to last several lifetimes.

    Upon return from Vietnam they were the worst of the worst with their bigotry toward veterans. They supported the war, but literally failed to support the troops, but boy did they like the war. The SBC went so far as to pass a resolution giving their support, to the war of course, but not to the servicemen & women bearing the brunt of this screwed up foreign policy FUBAR.

    Ever been called “worth less than an Iraqi POW”? I have on numerous occasions including by draft dogging wing-nut evangelicals/fundies. Ever had you church called a “social club”? Once again by hate filled fundies.

    FG is just the tip of the ice burg as evangelicalism/fundamentalism/dominionism are all heretical organizations that falsely call themselves Christian. The Head Imam in Medina Saudi Arabia knows more about the life & teachings of The Christ than any of these fools.

  47. So I guess you’re now falsely claiming expertise in psychology. Therefore all that needs to be determined at this point is which is greater? Your purposeful ignorance or your complete and total arrogance.

  48. The troll will only go away when it’s stopped being fed.

  49. dude, you reveal your hatred and ignorance by attacking the last commenttaor’s father. block!

  50. Note to climate3 – use spell check dude.

  51. I agree. Every one said “Hooray for Constantine! what could go wrong?” like 1700 years ago. Look at us now. Power corrupts Christians.

  52. Yes many so called “Christians” are fully corrupted by power and there is a plentiful number of examples one can use. But, we need to be aware the corruption invades & damages many other religions and organizations. My church (Episcopal) has historical actions that certainly were not Christ like, however I do believe we have learned better and improved the corporate understanding of Christ’s teachings. Another very good example are the actions of Calvin & Cromwell.

  53. Sorry I’m late with this post, but thank you very much. I believe your support was instrumental in having DirtyHarry#1’s posts deleted. As to misspelling a word, so what. I have dyslexia and spelling is not my forte, but have learned to use tools now available to assist me. After my dissertation was printed & bound I discovered a spelling error in the short description just behind the front cover. Oh well, too late them.

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