WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army decided to cancel a Franklin Graham Pentagon speech after a military advocacy group objected to his reported derogatory remarks about Islam.
A scheduled appearance by the evangelical minister and son of the Rev. Billy Graham on the National Day of Prayer May 6 drew the ire of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group focusing on religious favoritism in the military, Stars and Stripes reported Thursday.
The group was prepared to ask for a temporary restraining order against National Prayer Day if it was "polluted by someone as hideously Islamophobic as Franklin Graham," Mikey Weinstein, the group's director, told the military newspaper.
"I regret that the Army felt it was necessary to rescind their invitation to the National Day of Prayer Task Force to participate in the Pentagon's special prayer service," Graham said Thursday in a statement. "I want to express my strong support for the United States military and all our troops. I will continue to pray that God will give them guidance, wisdom and protection as they serve this great country."
In a 2001 commentary, Graham said he didn't believe Muslims are evil but objected to how women were treated in Muslim countries and Islam's "persecution or elimination" of other religions.
On Thursday, Graham told Fox News he was speaking out for people "enslaved by Islam and I want them to know they can be free through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone."