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The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Lawmaker Calls for Hearings into Pentagon’s ‘Politically Correct’ Decisions to ‘Disinvite’ Conservative Christian Leaders

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 28, 2010

 
(CNSNews.com) – A conservative Republican congressman from Georgia is calling for congressional hearings to investigate actions by the U.S. military in recent weeks to cancel or rescind invitations that had been made to two prominent conservative Christian leaders — Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins — to speak at military prayer events.
 
“I think that we need to have some hearings on this because this seems to be something that the military is spending some energy on and we need to raise the visibility on it,” Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) told CNSNews.com.
 
Last week, the Army “disinvited” Franklin Graham, the well-known son of the Rev. Billy Graham, to speak at the Pentagon on May 6 — the National Day of Prayer — after a military advocacy group objected that Graham had characterized Islam after the 9/11 attacks as “evil” and “wicked.”
 
Kingston, a member of the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, pointed out that  in February, the chaplain’s office at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland had “disinvited” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins from attending and praying at a national prayer event held on base because Perkins’ views differ from President Obama’s desire to repeal the military policy on homosexuality.

Kingston called both actions “political correctness.”

“I am concerned about it,” Kingston said. “It shows that the Pentagon is using a systematic practice of weeding out preachers and leaders of the clergy who are willing to give biblically-based messages and sermons which might ruffle some feathers in the diplomatic circles in which they are very concerned.” 

Graham, who serves as honorary chairman of this year’s National Day of Prayer activities, had been expected to be the lead speaker at the May 6 Pentagon service. As the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, Graham has become one of the most prominent evangelical leaders in the country. 

Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson and the chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, said the “a small group of naysayers” had demanded the Pentagon cancel its plan to involve the task force at its Pentagon observance on May 6. 

“The Pentagon, representing the most powerful military in the world, melted like butter and withdrew the invitation,” Dobson said in a statement. “It also disinvited Rev. Franklin Graham who was scheduled to speak. And the beat goes on.”

An Army spokesman confirmed that Graham was disinvited because of remarks he had made about Islam after the 9/11 attacks by Islamic terrorists and afterward, in which Graham had called Islam an “evil” religion. 

“His past statements are not consistent with the multi-faith emphasis and inclusiveness of this event,” Army Col. Tom Collins said.

The Pentagon action was prompted by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an organization started by attorney and former Air Force officer Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein to campaign for the goal of a completely secular military.

Graham, meanwhile, said he “regretted that the Army felt its decision was necessary.” 

Sarah Palin defended Graham over the weekend, writing on the Internet social network, Facebook:
 
“My, have things changed. I was honored to have Rev. Franklin Graham speak at my Governor’s Prayer Breakfasts. His good work in Alaska’s Native villages and his charitable efforts all over the world stem from his servant’s heart. In my years of knowing him, I’ve never found his tempered and biblically-based comments to be offensive — in fact his words have been encouraging and full of real hope.
 
“It’s truly a sad day when such a fine patriotic man, whose son is serving on his fourth deployment in Afghanistan to protect our freedom of speech and religion, is dis-invited from speaking at the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer service. His comments in 2001 were aimed at those who are so radical that they would kill innocent people and subjugate women in the name of religion,” Palin said.
 
“Are we really so hyper-politically correct that we can’t abide a Christian minister who expresses his views on matters of faith? What a shame. Yes, things have changed.”
 
Congressman Kingston, who sent a letter last week to Defense Secretary Robert Gates seeking answers about the Perkins situation, defended Graham’s right to speak. 
 
“I do believe that the higher you get up in the ladder, the more important politics is, and I think that the crowd in the Pentagon right now (knows) that the president and this administration have a very mixed message when it comes to Christianity and Judeo-Christian ethics and values. I think the military is reflecting the commander-in-chief’s preferences,” he added.
 
President Obama, over the weekend, paid a courtesy call to 91-year-old Rev. Billy Graham on his way to attend a memorial service for miners killed in a West Virginia mine explosion. Franklin Graham, who was present for the meeting, reportedly asked Obama about the Pentagon’s action.

“I wanted to make him aware of that,” Franklin Graham told The Associated Press. “He said he would look into it.”

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