Franklin Graham prays outside the Pentagon on the National Day of Prayer

WASHINGTON D.C. — Evangelist Franklin Graham prayed privately on the sidewalk outside the Pentagon May 6 for the men and women serving in the nation's military.

He was originally scheduled to speak at the Pentagon on the National Day of Prayer until the U.S. Army rescinded its invitation to the evangelist.

Graham, son of Billy Graham and this year's honorary National Day of Prayer Task Force chairman, is being criticized for comments he has made in the past expressing his belief that Islam is a dangerous religion.

The evangelist, with about a dozen people, formed a circle on the sidewalk and prayed with heads bowed for about five minutes, the Associated Press reported.

Graham told reporters, after his private prayer, that he had a son in Afghanistan and that he came to pray for the men and women that serve this nation. "They risk their lives every day to protect our freedom," said Graham. "So my prayer was that God would watch over them."

He told reporters that he doesn't believe "all religions are equal" and that there is only "one way to God" — and that is through Jesus.

Graham expressed his frustration that you cannot have a Christian service at the Pentagon but that Muslims can have their services.

"I think it is a put down, because it seems to be that Islam gets a pass, that a couple of Muslims can complain about a Christian event at the Pentagon, when there have been Christian events for years at the Pentagon," Graham told CBN News.

"(Muslims) can have Ramadan, they have their prayer services there, I don't complain, I'm happy for them to do that," he continued. "But for them to complain because I don't believe as they believe and I don't worship the same God that they worship… I worship a different God than they worship. But we love them."

"We need to pray for our nation and our president," said Graham.

Later in the morning, Graham spoke to a packed house at the National Observance in Washington, D.C., and he focused on the gospel. He briefly alluded to the controversy surrounding his appearance at the Pentagon.

"I come today as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ," said Graham. "I don't want to be offensive to anyone, but I only know how to pray and preach the Bible."

He shared how as a 22-year-old he bowed on his knees and asked Christ to be his personal Savior and has never regretted it.

"There is no hope for this nation, no hope for you, apart from the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ," he said. "I'm guilty. Our nation is guilty. But our hope is in Jesus Christ, for God so loved the world."

Graham closed by saying that his prayer is for the nation and country that he loves. "I say, Lord, if you are willing, make our nation whole again."

Tens of thousands of people gathered throughout the United States Thursday to observe the National Day of Prayer, an annual event buffeted by an adverse court ruling this year.

"Prayer is the most powerful resource we have in this life; yet, many only turn to it as a last resort," Graham wrote in an earlier statement urging the nation to pray.

President Obama issued a proclamation April 30 inviting Americans to give thanks, days after a federal judge ruled that a statute setting a day for the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, amounting to a governmental call for religious action.

Though Obama proclaimed this year's observance, he did not announce plans to participate in any events. Last year, for the first time in eight years, the White House did not host a public ceremony marking the day.

Under the Bush administration, the White House hosted an interfaith service each year, and Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush marked the day with a White House observance.

BP news was used in this report.


Related story: Franklin Graham removed from Pentagon prayer service

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