- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Rev. Franklin Graham, who angered Muslims in 2001 when he said that Islam “is a very evil and wicked religion,” told an interviewer for last night’s edition of ABC News “Nightline” that he hasn’t changed his mind about the religion.

Asked by ABC correspondent John Donvan whether Muslim groups had succeeded in altering his outlook about Islam, Mr. Graham said “No.”

“Do they want to indoctrinate me? Yes. I know about Islam. I don’t need an education from Islam,” he said.

“If people think Islam is such a wonderful religion, just go to Saudi Arabia and make it your home. Just live there. If you think Islam is such a wonderful religion, I mean, go and live under the Taliban somewhere. I mean, you’re free to do that,” he said.

Mr. Graham is the successor to his father as head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, based in Charlotte, N.C. He was interviewed Sunday in New Orleans, where the father-son team were leading an evangelistic festival.

The younger Mr. Graham angered Muslims after the September 11 terrorist attacks when he told NBC News: “We’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.”

In a subsequent Wall Street Journal piece, Mr. Graham wrote that he doesn’t think Muslim believers “are evil people because of their faith.”

“But I decry the evil that has been done in the name of Islam, or any other faith — including Christianity,” he said.

That article said “the persecution or elimination of non-Muslims has been a cornerstone of Islamic conquests and rule for centuries.” Mr. Graham said the Koran “provides ample evidence that Islam encourages violence in order to win converts and to reach the ultimate goal of an Islamic world.”

Some of Mr. Graham’s fellow evangelicals subsequently expressed concern that his comments might endanger Christian missionaries working in Muslim countries, strain interfaith relations and make America’s war on terrorism seem to be a Christian crusade.

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