'Muhammad Only Leads to the Grave'

Article excerpt

Byline: Jon Meacham and Lisa Miller

Franklin Graham, infuriated by his disinvitation to the Pentagon's National Day of Prayer ceremony last week, argues that he is being discriminated against for his beliefs. The son of evangelist Billy Graham talked to NEWSWEEK's Jon Meacham and Lisa Miller prior to the event. Edited excerpts:

Meacham: Would your sense of Christian humility not lead you to see the point of critics who say, because of the things you've said [calling Islam "wicked," "evil"], you could possibly be more divisive than unifying at a state-sponsored occasion?

Graham: Someone can try to make that argument. Eighty percent of America claims to be of the Christian faith. So there may be 20 percent who may be offended.

I'm in the 80 percent, and I'm offended.

That I mention Jesus Christ [in prayer]?

No, sir, by what you said about Islam, because I think it's more divisive than unifying.

Nine years ago I said it was wicked and evil.

But you still believe it.

Sure. But, again, I don't go out and speak about it. I just have to ask you: what they do to women, is that wicked or evil?

I would go to the cross for your right to preach in almost any forum. But I also understand the argument that the point of a public religious service is to be as unifying as possible.

I am who I am. I don't believe that you can get to heaven through being a Buddhist or Hindu. I think Muhammad only leads to the grave. Now, that's what I believe, and I don't apologize for my faith.

We are an incredibly hospitable country to all faiths. …