Franklin Graham on Muslim immigration: Not until they can be properly vetted or the 'war with Islam' is over

by Kelly Ledbetter |

(Franklin Graham via Facebook)

BOONE, N.C. (Christian Examiner) – Despite the allegations of "Islamophobia" leveled against Presidential candidate Donald Trump, Franklin Graham says he has been arguing for a ban against Muslim immigration to America for months.

"We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled," Graham wrote on Facebook on July 17. "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?"

Graham asked his readers to ask Congress to "put a stop to this and close the flood gates."

Muslim-Christian relations expert Carl Meaderis wrote an open letter to Graham shortly after the public figure's post, accusing him of composing a "a nearly unthinkably ignorant post."

Meaderis challenged Graham to avoid stereotyping and capitalizing on fear. He pointed out, "But we are not at war with Muslims – or Islam."

ACCUSATIONS LEVELED AT GRAHAM

Recently and perhaps in response to Trump's recent comments about a total ban on Muslims entering the country, Graham posted again about his views on Muslim immigration, citing on Dec. 9 and Dec. 10 two significant studies.

"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 Dec. 9.

Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the government should fight against "radical Islamic jihadism" but without penalizing "law-abiding people ... for holding their religious convictions."

SHARIA LAW INCOMPATIBLE WITH U.S. CONSTITUTION

Graham referenced a poll commissioned by the Center for Security Policy that found 51 percent of Muslims living in America believe they should have the option of being governed by Sharia law rather than the U.S. Constitution. "This is frightening," Graham added.

In an interview with CNN's Carol Costello Graham referenced Sharia law when pushed about his view that Islam is not compatible with American values, citing concerns about how women and others are treated.

In an opinion about Trump's statements, Moore wrote, "As an evangelical Christian, I could not disagree more strongly with Islam. ... As part of the church's mission, we believe we should seek to persuade our Muslim neighbors of the goodness and truth of the gospel.

"It is not in spite of our gospel conviction, but precisely because of it, that we should stand for religious liberty for everyone," Moore said.

Steve Holmes, a theology professor at St. Andrews University, Scotland, wrote an open letter to Graham in which he said Graham's views were not Baptist, calling his words "as mistaken as they were inflammatory."

RESEARCH ON MUSLIMS AND ISLAM

On Dec. 10, Graham linked to information from the Pew Research Center about Muslims and Islam, saying, "There are 1.8 million Muslim adults in the United States. Pew research released that 8% of adult Muslims in the U.S. said that suicide bombings and other forms of violence in the name of Islam are 'sometimes' or 'often' justified. Think about it—that's 144,000 Muslims who openly say without hesitation that violence in the name of Islam is justified!"

Holmes, who quoted Moore's article, referenced the commitment of founding figures of the Baptist denomination to freedom of religion, including Franklin Graham's father Billy Graham, noting, "Precisely because of their commitment to that truth, precisely because they believed in the present Lordship of Christ, they denied the right of anyone, specifically of any government, to proscribe any form of religious belief."

Refuting those who say the number of radicalized Muslims is small, Graham said on Facebook, "That's not 'peaceful' and that's not a small number—it's about the size of the entire population of Syracuse, New York!" He called again for "proper" vetting of Muslim immigrants.

"Mr. Graham," wrote Holmes, "when you have spoken wrongly about Muslims, I have regretted it; when you have unfairly demonised Muslims, I have grieved. Now, however, that you propose denying Muslims their God-given right to freedom of conscience, I feel I must, as a Baptist, attempt to call you on it directly."

Numerous Evangelicals like Holmes side with Moore in viewing a significant gap between Muslims and radical Islam.

Graham said, "I'm not 99%—but I'm 100% sure of this—our nation and our politicians need to realize the dangers of allowing people into this country that are not properly vetted."