On the April 23 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity falsely claimed evangelist Franklin Graham's controversial 2001 comments that Islam "is a very evil and wicked religion" were "taken out of context" and that he was speaking "specifically about radical Islamists that strap bombs to their children and kill innocent people." In fact, Graham did not distinguish between Islam and "radical Islam" in his 2001 comments or in his recent comments on Fox News.
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Hannity falsely claims Graham "spoke specifically about radical Islamists"
From the April 23 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: First of all, Franklin Graham, he talked about the horrid treatment in Muslim countries of Muslim women. He was very specific in what he said. He spoke specifically about radical Islamists that strap bombs to their children and kill innocent people.
JUAN WILLIAMS (Fox News contributor): Reverend Graham has every right to say what he wants to say, but the Pentagon has larger issues, and the American people and the American military [have] larger issues. When he says that Islam is a very wicked religion -- you know what? -- that's offensive to lots of people who believe in Islamic principle beyond the extremist. And I think what he -- if he had a chance, he might go back and say he was talking about Islamic extremists -- the Wahhabis and those types. But to say that just puts American troops at risk, incites terrible relations between American and the Islam community.
HANNITY: There is very specific language in the Quran that says take neither Christians nor Jews for your friends, if taken literally.
WILLIAMS: That's fine.
HANNITY: Well, wait a minute.
WILLIAMS: That's fine.
HANNITY: Well, wait a minute. So, is there a double standard here? And I think -- I've interviewed Franklin Graham enough to know he has been very specific and he spoke very specifically about the horrid treatment in Islamic nations of women. I think you would agree.
WILLIAMS: That's all true. All true.
HANNITY: -- under Sharia law. And number two --
HANNITY: -- I think he was speaking very specifically about Islamic extremists and those that buy into --
WILLIAMS: No, he didn't --
HANNITY: -- jihad -- wait a minute -- those that buy into jihad. And number three, do you support the idea that the Reverend Franklin Graham be disinvited to the Pentagon?
WILLIAMS: Because the Pentagon represents our military -- men and women who are putting their lives at risk, Sean. And to have some kind of debate about Reverend Graham's rhetoric at this point does not serve to protect their lives, and I'm all about protecting their lives.
HANNITY: Juan, those people have made a very clear distinction, including Franklin Graham himself, between Islam and radical Islam. And I don't think there was any ambiguity in what he was talking about and I think this has been taken out of context in that regard.
WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, the actual quote, Sean, is he says "a very wicked religion" and he said later in trying to clean it up in a Wall Street Journal piece, he said he's talking about some of the horrible acts -- and there's no question horrible acts have come from some of the teachings of Islam.
So he then tried to be more specific. I think he wishes he had been more specific. But to have him now as a spokesman at this event stirs the pot in a way that's not good for our military interest or our national interest.
In 2001 comments, Graham claimed Islam "is a very evil and wicked religion"
Following the September 11, 2001, attacks, Graham called Islam "a very evil and wicked religion." Following the 9-11 terror attacks, in November 2001, NBC's Nightly News aired a clip of Graham saying that "[w]e're not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. ... The God of Islam is not the same God. He's not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion." When later asked by NBC News to clarify his comments, Graham reportedly said that "[i]t wasn't Methodists flying into those buildings, it wasn't Lutherans. It was an attack on this country by people of the Islamic faith."
Defending comments recently, Graham did not distinguish between Islam and "radical Islam"
Graham: "I speak out for people that live under Islam, that are enslaved by Islam." On April 22, Fox News hosted Graham to discuss reports that the Army was considering rescinding its invitation for Graham to speak at the National Day of Prayer due to concerns over his incendiary rhetoric of Islam, including his comment that Islam is a "wicked" and "evil" religion. (The Army did indeed rescind its invitation.)
During the segment, Graham preached that Muslims should convert to Christianity and said that they should know that "they don't have to die in a car bomb, they don't have to die in some kind of holy war to be accepted by God, but it's through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone." Graham also said Muslims are "enslaved by Islam." From the April 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): Franklin Graham was scheduled to speak at the Pentagon on the National Day of Prayer, coming up. But now, the Army may withdraw that invitation after a watchdog group complained about Franklin Graham's past statements about Muslims. Franklin Graham is a well-known evangelist and of course he's the son of Billy Graham and he joins us from Nashville with his reaction this morning. Good morning to you, Mr. Graham.
GRAHAM: Good morning.
CARLSON: I guess this all stems back from some comments that you had after 9-11, where you said that Islam is a very evil and wicked religion. Do you still believe that, Mr. Graham?
GRAHAM: You know, Gretchen, first of all, I love Muslim people and I want Muslims everywhere to know what I know, that God loves us, that he sent his son Jesus Christ into this world to take our sins and he died for our sins and rose from the grave and that Christ can come into their heart and change them and they can have the hope of eternal life, salvation. I want them to know that they don't have to die in a car bomb don't have to die in some kind of holy war to be accepted by God. But it's through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone. But when you look at Islam, I love the people of Islam but the religion, I do not agree with the religion at all. And if you look at what the religion does just to women, women alone, it is just horrid. And so yes, I speak out for women. I speak out for people that live under Islam, that are enslaved by Islam and I want them to know that they can be free, free through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone.
Hannity latest Fox News figure to whitewash Graham's record
Carlson on Fox & Friends: "So many people believe that the Army acquiesced" to Graham opponents. On the April 23 edition of Fox & Friends, Carlson reported that the Army had rescinded its invitation and stated: "So many people believe that the Army acquiesced to the request of that one group to not have Graham there. Graham says he strongly supports the U.S. military, regrets the Army's decision, but stands by his comments."
Peter Johnson: "I think vindictiveness has won over redemption, has won over prayer." Later in the show, after co-host Steve Doocy noted that "nine years ago, Graham described Islam as 'evil,' " Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. defended Graham, saying, "Vindictiveness has won over redemption, has won over prayer," and asked whether "we have an America-lite now where we are embarrassed by our sons?" Johnson stated:
JOHNSON: No one is out to make any excuses for the statements that Franklin Graham made. And they were made nine years ago in the wake of 9-11, in the wake of 3,000 deaths. He doesn't need excuses. He's made his viewpoint clear as an evangelical minister and as someone who wants to proselytize the world in the word of Jesus Christ.
But what we've said now is that the Army wants to decide what the religious content should be. We've seen now that the government wants to decide that the old regime -- that the old regime that is associated with Preacher Graham and President Bush is over, and that we have an America-lite now where we are embarrassed by our sons.
Should Preacher Graham and his son be embarrassed of each other's conduct? Preacher Graham's son is a 29-year-old West Point graduate who was wounded in 2007, is on his fourth duty in Iraq. What does he say to the noncommissioned officers, to the captains, to the colonels on the ground in Iraq? Does he say, I'm embarrassed by my father, that I'm embarrassed by my family's legacy of service to this country, of ministering to soldiers and to presidents and governors and senators, and say he's an embarrassment now to the world? Is Franklin Graham an embarrassment to the world in spite of one overstated, overblown statement that he probably now regrets, or if he doesn't, he should, or at least we should allow him to redeem himself. What does that say? What does that say to you, Gretchen?
Later, Carlson replied, "We live in a PC society where one person complains, and before you know it, the whole event's canceled," and Johnson stated: "There is no place in this country for divisiveness or for mass generalizations about any people or any religion. But there is a place, Steve Doocy, I think, in this country for redemption, for forgiveness, and the government should keep its hands off what ministers are saying to what group of people on National Prayer Day."
Carlson on The O'Reilly Factor: "He believes that the treatment of women within the Islam religion is horrid. That's his direct quote." On the April 22 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Carlson stated that during his appearance on Fox & Friends, Graham was "continuing to defend his remarks" that "the treatment of women within the Islam religion is horrid. That's his direct quote." Carlson said that because the Army rescinded the invitation, it had "acquiesced to the pressure of one person." Fox News analyst Margaret Hoover said the decision was "unfortunate" because Graham was just "call[ing] out something that's happening with the radicalized component of Islam right now, which is that it is inspiring violence."
MacCallum: "Pretty good point" that Army should be "worried" about Fort Hood shooter, not Graham. On the April 22 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum hosted conservative radio host Michael Graham, who is of no relation to Franklin Graham, to discuss the controversy. Graham said: "If I were looking for problems with riled-up Muslims at the Pentagon, I wouldn't be worried about Franklin Graham. I'd be worried about the Army sergeant -- captain, excuse me -- who was communicating with an Al Qaeda terrorist by email, who was telling his fellow doctors in the Army medical corps he wanted to cut off their heads and pour hot oil down their throats before he fired -- shot up people at Fort Hood." MacCallum stated that it was a "pretty good point" and later agreed with Graham that the watchdog group that complained about Graham may have "a larger agenda."
Palin: Army is disinviting "a fine patriotic man." On her Facebook page, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin wrote:
My, have things changed. I was honored to have Rev. Franklin Graham speak at my Governor's Prayer Breakfasts. His good work in Alaska's Native villages and his charitable efforts all over the world stem from his servant's heart. In my years of knowing him, I've never found his tempered and biblically-based comments to be offensive - in fact his words have been encouraging and full of real hope. It's truly a sad day when such a fine patriotic man, whose son is serving on his fourth deployment in Afghanistan to protect our freedom of speech and religion, is dis-invited from speaking at the Pentagon's National Day of Prayer service. His comments in 2001 were aimed at those who are so radical that they would kill innocent people and subjugate women in the name of religion. Are we really so hyper-politically correct that we can't abide a Christian minister who expresses his views on matters of faith? What a shame. Yes, things have changed.