An Open Letter to Franklin Graham
Your father is my hero. #1 on a long list of potential heroes. I’m sure it gets tiring being compared to him. But I think you’re stuck – you’re his son.
I don’t know you personally, Franklin. I admire your work through Samaritan’s Purse. I admire your courage to at least attempt to take up your father’s mantle of preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. I’m in your camp. I believe the Bible is true and the only way to know God as Father is through a personal relationship with Jesus. I believe in the power of the Cross and Resurrection and that life in Jesus is the only real life.
We’re on the same team – which is why your recent words on Facebook hurt me so much.
I’m pretty sure you know what you wrote, but let me quote it here – just for the others who might read our correspondence:
“Four innocent Marines killed and three others wounded in Chattanooga yesterday including a policeman and another Marine–all by a radical Muslim whose family was allowed to immigrate to this country from Kuwait. We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled. Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized–and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. During World War 2, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now? Do you agree? Let your Congressman know that we’ve got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates. Pray for the men and women who serve this nation in uniform, that God would protect them.”
I am sorry to say it this stongly, but it’s a nearly unthinkably ignorant post. We are “under attack by Muslims at home and abroad?” Really? So we’re at war with Muslims here in the U.S.? If so, then when this Muslim man killed those Marines, it was simply an act of war. Four Marines versus one Muslim. Which of course, is a ridiculous way to view this.
And your comment that “they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad,” is about as dumb a thing as I’ve ever heard someone say. Who are “they” exactly Franklin? Define “they.” Maybe start with defining who “Muslims” are according to you. Which Muslims exactly are you referring to? Because you don’t say in your post. You just say that we are “under attack by Muslims.”
If you would, I want to humbly ask you to consider just three simple things:
1. Stereotyping (broad-brushing) whole groups of people is what Dylann Roof and others like him do. It’s what leads to these murderous acts in the first place. I don’t want Muslims to say “all those Americans__________.” Or “all those Christians_________.”
So I’d encourage you not to do that with Muslims, or anyone else. When Jesus said “Do not judge,” I think he was talking about this.
We can judge this Muslim man. He was wrong. He’s a criminal of the worst kind. We can judge Dylan Roof. We can. That’s judging rightly.
But we cannot judge a group of people. That’s God’s job. And we cannot say it’s “being wise” or “being aware of the times” or things that some folks use to justify judgments.
2. Fear is the work of Satan. When you compared “Muslims” with Japanese and Germans during WW2 you committed several fatal flaws in your argument.
Germans and Japanese are people who are from a specific nation – not a religious identity. What country are “Muslims?” We were, in fact, at war with Germany and Japan in WW2. But we are not at war with Muslims – or Islam.
We may be at war (up for discussion for sure) with Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban. They are very specific groups located in a number of countries. How we fight that war is a matter of much needed debate – but we are for sure not at war with “Muslims.”
So when you say things like this, it simply increases fear. What drives out fear (which is the work of Satan)? Love. Not war. Not more fear. But love. Only love can drive out fear. And we cannot love someone who is Muslim (which God has commanded us to do) if we’re afraid of Muslims. The two are incompatible.
3. Franklin, consider again – I’m sure you have before – the way of Jesus when it comes to dealing with an enemy. Some things Jesus wasn’t all that clear on. But the enemy thing – quite clear. He says several things (which you know). He says to love them. Give to them. Bless them. Pray for them.
Through the words of Paul, he also tells us not to take revenge to overcome evil with good.
Jesus’s beloved disciple, John, is the one who tells us that it’s “perfect love that casts out all fear.”
Franklin, I’m with you in acknowledging that evil is real. That some Muslims are bad people given over to evil. I’m also with you acknowledging that religion is a horrible counterfeit of the real thing (all religions are). And that only Jesus Christ brings freedom and truth.
But brother, you have to reconsider how you communicate. I assume this comes from your heart – as all our words do. Maybe your heart needs a reboot.
If you’d like to meet a few hundred of my Muslims friends who would cry with you over the death of these Marines, I’d be happy to introduce you.
Bottom line – if “Muslims” are your enemies, it’s clear what Jesus calls us to do with enemies. And if these “Muslims” are your neighbors (and many of them are), it’s clear what Jesus asks us to do with neighbors. Either way I think you’re stuck. You gotta love em.
In the meantime, go out and talk to some real live Muslims. Ask questions. Listen. Don’t be afraid – God will be with you. For the sake of the Gospel.