Franklin Graham, Islam, and the Future of Progressive Christianity

franklin-fb-page-1Franklin Graham recently made a stir with his 2.1 million fans on Facebook when he posted about the murder of four US marines in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He wrote,

Four innocent Marines (United States Marine Corps) killed and three others wounded in ‪#‎Chattanooga yesterday including a policeman and another Marine–all 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. 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. During World War 2, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now? Do you agree? Let your Congressman know that we’ve got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates. Pray for the men and women who serve this nation in uniform, that God would protect them.

Franklin Graham is the “mouth piece of God” for many Christians throughout the world – a modern day prophet for his millions of fans. But, sadly, Franklin misunderstands the very nature of God.

I share Graham’s concern for the victims of this violent act and pray for their families, but his statement about how Christians should respond to that violence also concerns me. Graham’s understanding of God is contaminated by fear and exclusion that responds to violence with more violence. He believes that Islam is a great threat to America and that we should respond by excluding Muslims from the United States because “they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad.”

I’m pleased that many Evangelicals have already critiqued Graham’s misunderstanding of Islam, but here I’d like to offer a progressive alternative to his understanding of Christianity.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS 

Baptists show support by visiting local mosque for Friday prayers

mosqueAs a police escort led the funeral procession for Marine Staff Sgt. David Wyatt to the Chattanooga National Cemetery, people in the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga mosque bowed their heads in prayer.

And as thousands lined the streets of Chattanooga to wave American flags, hold signs and salute as the hearse passed them by, a small group of non-Muslims lined the back wall of the prayer room of the mosque to offer support for the local Islamic community. On July 16, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, from a local Muslim family, fatally shot four Marines at a Navy/Marine operations center and mortally wounded a Navy sailor.

The guests who joined local Muslims for prayers were mainly Baptists, with at least one Presbyterian. They came with their children in tow.

“We just want to show them that we love them,” said a Baptist man who asked not to be named.

Three mothers brought their children to show them not to fear what they didn’t understand. Their little girls wrapped their hair in bright plaid and flowered scarves as a sign of respect before entering the women’s prayer room. The men worship in a separate room, but all can see the imam at the front of the congregation.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TIMES FREE PRESS OF CHATTANOOGA 

An Open Letter to Franklin Graham

franklin-grahamYour father is my hero.  #1 on a long list of potential heroes. I’m sure it gets tiring being compared to him. But I think you’re stuck – you’re his son.

I don’t know you personally, Franklin.  I admire your work through Samaritan’s Purse. I admire your courage to at least attempt to take up your father’s mantle of preaching the good news of Jesus Christ.  I’m in your camp.  I believe the Bible is true and the only way to know God as Father is through a personal relationship with Jesus.  I believe in the power of the Cross and Resurrection and that life in Jesus is the only real life.

We’re on the same team – which is why your recent words on Facebook hurt me so much.

I’m pretty sure you know what you wrote, but let me quote it here – just for the others who might read our correspondence:

“Four innocent Marines killed and three others wounded in Chattanooga yesterday including a policeman and another Marine–all 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. 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. During World War 2, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now? Do you agree? Let your Congressman know that we’ve got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates. Pray for the men and women who serve this nation in uniform, that God would protect them.”

I am sorry to say it this stongly, but it’s a nearly unthinkably ignorant post.  We are “under attack by Muslims at home and abroad?”  Really?  So we’re at war with Muslims here in the U.S.?  If so, then when this Muslim man killed those Marines, it was simply an act of war.  Four Marines versus one Muslim.  Which of course, is a ridiculous way to view this.

And your comment that “they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad,” is about as dumb a thing as I’ve ever heard someone say. Who are “they” exactly Franklin?  Define “they.”  Maybe start with defining who “Muslims” are according to you. Which Muslims exactly are you referring to? Because you don’t say in your post. You just say that we are “under attack by Muslims.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CARL MEDEARIS’ BLOG 

Chattanooga Muslims mourning, anxious after shootings

July 18 at 7:15 PM
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — As the death toll rose to five, a handful of governors ordered National Guardsmen to take up arms in response to the brazen attacks on two Tennessee military sites.

In Chattanooga, a city that prides itself on strong ties between people of different faiths, some Muslims feared the community’s perception of them had changed after the shooting rampage Thursday. A 24-year-old man and fellow Muslim killed four Marines and wounded three others, including a sailor who died Saturday from his wounds.

Mohsin Ali, a member of the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga, said he hoped the local community didn’t dissolve into turmoil the way others have in the region over the building of mosques and other matters. Peaceful coexistence has largely prevailed here.

“We, our kids, feel 100 percent American and Chattanoogan,” said the Pakistani-born Ali, who is a child psychiatrist. “Now they are wondering if that is how people still look at them.”

Valencia Brewer, the wife of a Baptist minister, knows how she’ll try to see Muslims as the days after the horrific shooting turn to weeks.

 “I think the way you have to look at it is this was an individual person. You can’t point at all Muslims because of this,” she said.

Ali and Brewer were among more than 1,000 people who attended a memorial service Friday night at a Baptist church for the victims. Ali, one of the speakers, railed against alleged shooter Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez as a “murderer” who committed a “cowardly and cruel” act.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST