“In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist; And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist; And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew; And then…they came for me … And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”
Pastor Martin Niemöller
Members of Congress plan to host a National Day of Prayer event in May featuring evangelist Franklin Graham. The invitation to Graham, who has described Islam as “a very evil and wicked religion,” came in the wake of an invitation extended to Graham for a similar event at the Pentagon the same week. Before being subsequently withdrawn, the invitation sparked widespread criticism from both within and outside the Pentagon. Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said inviting Graham to speak “would be like bringing someone in on national prayer day madly denigrating Christianity.”
Graham’s statements are nothing new. Following a report on a recent terrorist incident on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club,” host Pat Robertson called Islam “not a religion, but a political system,” and called for Americans to treat its followers “as we would members of the Communist party, or members of some fascist group.” And after a report on Muslims in Minneapolis seeking religious accommodations at school and work, Robertson warned, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have to recognize that Islam is not a religion. It is a worldwide political movement meant on domination of the world.” In yet another telecast, Robertson railed: “These people are crazed fanatics, and I want to say it now: I believe it’s motivated by demonic power. It is satanic and it’s time we recognize what we’re dealing with.”
Robertson and Graham are not alone in condemnations. Scores of politicians, columnists, various bloggers, radio and TV hosts, particularly since the 9/11 tragedy, have emphatically claimed that Islam as a faith calls on its followers to dominate the world through violence and terror. Are there some extremists who promote violence in the name of faith? No doubt, but zealots of all faiths have done so for time immemorial, and blanket condemnations of an entire faith community do nothing to help fight the murderous enemy we currently face and must defeat.
Recently, Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders toured the U.S. promoting his anti-Muslim film “Fitna” where specific passages of the Quran, the Muslim scripture, are juxtaposed with video images of acts of terror and violence. In an interview on a national cable news channel, Wilders described Muslim immigration to Europe as a “threat…to our Western societies based on Christianity and Judaism” and called for the banning of the Quran as “a fascist book.” And in his zeal to condemn Islam and Muslims, Wilders inadvertently attacked others. When asked whether the Old Testament should likewise be banned due to its violent passages, Wilders responded that the “Old Testament was followed by a more moderate New Testament” inadvertently taking a swipe at the validity of the Old Testament, scripture held particularly sacred to Jews, not to mention Muslims and Christians.