Muslims Want Graham Barred From Capitol Hill Prayer Event

By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) Days after evangelist Franklin Graham was disinvited from a Pentagon observance of the National Day of Prayer, a Muslim organization has asked members of Congress to follow suit.

Corey Saylor, national legislative director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, questioned Graham's inclusion in a Capitol Hill event on May 6 because of his past statements that Islam is an "evil and wicked religion."

"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," Saylor said in a statement on Monday (April 26).

D.J. Jordan, a spokesman for Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., a sponsor of the congressional National Day of Prayer observance, said Tuesday the invitation would not be rescinded.

Aderholt, in a statement, called Franklin Graham an "appropriate speaker" for the event, and said he was "honored that Franklin will come to Congress to speak and pray for the legislative branch of government on May 6."

John Bornschein, executive director of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, the host of the Capitol Hill observance, also said that Graham will be there.

"Although the Pentagon has rescinded Franklin Graham's invitation to speak at their event, he will still be the keynote speaker at the national observance in Washington, D.C., at the Cannon House Office Building," Bornschein said in a statement.

Graham mentioned the Pentagon decision to President Obama Sunday when the president met with his father, evangelist Billy Graham, at the elder Graham's North Carolina home.

A new study by LifeWay Research shows that 47 percent of Protestant pastors agree with the younger Graham's view of Islam. Another survey by Rasmussen Reports found that 60 percent of Americans favor the federal government recognizing a National Day of Prayer.