Franklin Graham, arguably one of America's most powerful Christian leaders, found himself at odds with the White House and the Muslim world when he called the entire Islamic religion "wicked, violent and not of the same God."
While Bush was wishing Muslims around the world, "health, prosperity and happiness during Ramadan," Graham declared, "I don't believe this is a wonderful, peaceful religion." When asked to clarify his statement, Graham reiterated his belief that Islam, as a whole, is evil.
The White House immediately distanced itself from Graham, stating that the president "views Islam as a religion that preaches peace." The president has repeated that Islam means "peace," denying its actual meaning - submission.
Whereas, following the attacks of 9-11, Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson both backpedaled after initially criticizing President Bush, Franklin Graham appeared unwavering. However, after the criticism following his remarks, he has softened his rhetoric.
Graham said he did not believe that Muslims were evil people because of their faith, "but I decry the evil done in the name of Islam."
Evangelist Graham wrote a column in The Wall Street Journal to give a "more complete picture" of his views, which had been "greatly misunderstood."
But even in his column, (which was called by Ibraham Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, "obviously an attempt to deflect criticism,) Graham said, "the persecution or elimination of non-Muslims has been a cornerstone of Islamic conquests and rule for centuries." He added that the Qur'an provided "ample evidence that Islam encourages violence in order to win converts and to reach the ultimate goal of an Islamic world."