Defining Islam: 'Religion of Peace' or 'Wicked Religion'
(CNSNews.com) - While President Bush attempts to reassure American Muslims that the war in Afghanistan is not directed at their religion, the man who delivered the invocation at Bush's inauguration is on the record criticizing Islam as a "very evil and wicked religion."
Just this week, the president hosted a Muslim audience for a special meal at the White House to mark the beginning of Ramadan. He has also repeatedly praised Islam as a "religion of peace."
However, Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, who gave the invocation at Bush's inauguration, stands by his comments made in October while dedicating a chapel in North Carolina. Graham told the congregation: "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."
Graham's comments are still causing a stir. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, has personally called on Graham to meet with him to discuss the matter.
"We think that the first step is a discussion of the reality of Islam, and we can give him religious references and any kind of information on Islam's stance on a variety of issues he has concerns about," Hooper said. "We're quite happy with how Islam views the issues he has mentioned and we are willing to give him the proper Islamic perspective on them, not those that have been filtered through a political agenda."
Hooper added that Muslims and conservatives are aligned on a number of issues and should work together to solidify what could be a powerful alliance.
"Some Christian conservatives don't realize that Muslims can be their natural allies on a number of issues, like abortion, morality in society, religion in schools, and any number of issues," Hooper said. "We are allies with Christian conservatives and it is always a bit disconcerting, when instead of recognition of that potential alliance, we get these kinds of offensive attacks."
William Lind, director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation, is also critical of Islam.
"A sugar coated view of Islam, according to the history of Islam and its conduct today in majority Islamic countries, is wrong," Lind said. "There is no such thing as peaceful or tolerant Islam. There are lax Islamics.
"Remember that most of the Mediterranean basin was once Christian and Islam did not take those areas by preaching and good works. It took war," he said.
Lind added that President Bush should be cautious in painting the religion as friendly and tolerant.
"If the president is doing what he is doing for foreign consumption, that is one thing," he said. "But if he really believes it, then we are in trouble, because it is not true."