Dear Mr. Graham, Let me Introduce you to Some Friends….

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Dear Mr. Graham,

I’d like to introduce you to some friends of mine. 

The first friend is Golnaz. Golnaz is a bright and beautiful young woman from Iran. My husband first met her while working on a project at Harvard University. It was an instant friendship and soon after he met her, he invited her to come to our home. We got to know her and her young son, inviting them to Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas open houses. At the time, Golnaz was single-parenting. She had no family around, and little community. In the seven years we have known her, we have watched her get a masters degree, work through the difficulties of a complicated divorce, and raise an amazing son.

Here’s another set of friends: They live in San Diego in a lovely home that they open up to us whenever we are in the area. Rehan is a brilliant geneticist and Ghazala is a physician. Their house reflects their Pakistani heritage, and their living between worlds reality. They have two sons: One in university and the other heading quickly into his high school years. Both are brilliant and personable, like their parents. Ghazala and Rehan have a strong faith and wake to the call to prayer on their alarm clock each day. We share history, stories, and deep conversations of faith together.

I mustn’t forget Ali Reza. When Ali Reza left the United States for Denmark, we all cried. He brought his parents to visit right before we left. We sat on our couch, on a warm summer evening drinking mint tea together and talking. We talked and talked – even though we only know phrases in Persian, and his parents only know a couple of phrases in English. No matter, we found that the connection, the friendship, was a gift. We communicated across the boundaries of faith, language, culture, and world view. Ali Reza was like a son to us during the year he was in the United States.

There are so many more! There are Payman and Farnaz, a lovely couple who make their home in a suburb of Boston; there is Hamra – an extraordinary artist living with her husband and baby near Harvard Square.

It would take too long to list everyone, and I want to get to my main point, which is this: I am deeply troubled by the comments you made publicly about Muslims and immigration and I believe you are culpable for many of the negative attitudes toward Muslims in the Evangelical church.

I would ask you to hear me out on this one: All of the friends I mentioned above are Muslims, along with many more Mohammads, Alis, Fatimas, Khadijahs and more.They all subscribe to different truth claims than we do; they celebrate different holidays, they have vastly different cultural backgrounds. And we count it a deep privilege, a joy, to walk through this thing called life together. They no more wear the ideology of terrorism than you wear the ideology of Westboro Baptist Church. They are as afraid of radicalization as you are. This is truth. They fear God and they seek to live well between worlds in their adopted country. And that country is the United States.

Let me give you a little history of my life: I was raised in the country of Pakistan, daughter of Christian missionaries. The call to prayer was my alarm clock, curry was my staple food, and Muslim women and girls were my aunties and my friends. I experienced extraordinary hospitality at the hands of the people of Pakistan. They offered us friendship, safety, and amazing food. Early on in life, my father would take us to see men praying at the large mosque in our city during the Eid celebrations. I would watch as a sea of white-clad men, all with prayer caps on their heads, bowed in unison as the muezzin chanted from the microphone attached to one of the tall minarets. I did not see terrorism, I saw devotion. I did not see anger, I saw zeal.

My husband and I went on to raise our own family – first in  Pakistan, and then in the country of Egypt. We love the Middle East and we love our many Muslim friends, both sides of the ocean.

And so when someone like you, with a reputation for doing good, someone with a vast following of Christians, makes the sort of statement that you made the other day about Muslims, I worry. A lot. Because I believe that the other day, in trying to express compassion for marines who were murdered, you misspoke and abused your position. I believe that you had a right to be angry, but your choice to exhibit the extreme racism and ethnocentrism that came through in your words was not wise. In fact, those words were angry, hurtful, and should be retracted.

You see, it’s not enough to do Operation Christmas Child on the other side of the world. Kindness and love of God needs to extend to people here as well.

As a leader, you have the ability to make friends and foster deep relationships with some of the Muslim leaders of this country. Muslims who are not radicalized, Muslims who fear God and long for change.

The lens through which we view the world is shaped by many things. And because of where I was raised, I am perplexed by the vehemence and hostility with which people who bear the name ‘Christian’ respond to the Muslim world. This was not something that my Christian parents taught me, not something that I was familiar with as a child.

Hear this Mr. Graham – You do not need to give up your truth claims to have dialogue. You do not have to give up the things that you hold dear, that you believe with all your heart, to be willing to form friendships and talk within relationship. In fact, your truth claims should guide you into those relationships without fear, without fear-mongering, but with humility and a desire to love and to understand. I am not asking you to not be angry about terrorism. I am not asking you not to express outrage at attacks against others that are carried out in evil malice. I am asking that you not stoop to the low-level of stereotyping all Muslims as terrorists. I am asking that you, as a Christian leader, walk the high road.

To build relationships with people of other faiths is not compromising our faith. Rather, it’s living out a faith that is not threatened but firm.

I am a little person in this big, wide, internet. But, should you want to talk, I would love to talk to you about this. Having spent a majority of my life living and working in Muslim countries, and with so many friends from Muslim majority countries, I believe I may be able to, in humility, offer a perspective.

Because you received excellent and Godly modeling from a man we all admire, and I would hope that you would be willing to listen.

Related Posts:

What Growing up in a Muslim Country Taught us About Christianity

The Hard Questions

Seeing Ghosts

Challenging Assumptions

This post has been closed for discussion. 

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Third Culture Kid - Grew up in Pakistan, lived and worked in Pakistan and Egypt as an adult. Moved to the United States and learning to live away from curry, Urdu, Arabic and the Pyramids.

112 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Graham, Let me Introduce you to Some Friends….

  1. Dear Mrs. Gardner,

    After reading your post, I noticed that it was void of any evidence why Mr. Graham was wrong. The entire post was based purely upon your relationship with some Muslims. I too have many relationships with Muslims and I could list many unpleasant and disgusting things how I was treated while living among them. So does this come down to my list is longer than your list, or should we really examine the statement of Mr. Graham.

    First of all, you never gave the words that Mr. Graham said. You only said that, “those words were angry, hurtful, and should be retracted.” I read the post on Mr. Graham’s facebook post of July 17, I did not sense anger in his tone, nor did I read anything that was untrue. The shooter’s family did immigrate from Kuwait, we are constantly being told that people can be radicalized in two weeks from the internet, we are being attacked by Muslims both abroad and here in the US, and we didn’t allow Japanese nor Germans to immigrate during World War II. All of these statements are true.

    Islam is an ideology of Muslim supremacism . A small number of Muslims with the desire to see their eschatology come to fruition can create a major danger to our country. Remember it only took 19 hijackers for 9/11.
    In addition your statement, “I believe you are culpable for many of the negative attitudes toward Muslims in the Evangelical church.” Was unkind and inaccurate. Mr. Graham is not responsible for many of the negative attitudes towards Muslims, they are responsible because of their actions, attitude of victimhood, and desire of special treatment.

    As you stated, “You see, it’s not enough to do Operation Christmas Child on the other side of the world. Kindness and love of God needs to extend to people here as well.” Where did Mr. Graham say that kindness and the love of God not be extended to Muslims? He did not make reference to the 6-11 million that are in this country, and he did not say to never allow them into the country, he said, ” We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled.” This does not sound mean spirited or angry.

    Lastly, he made the following statements, “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.” He was not pushing or demanding anyone act upon this, only if you agree then exercise your rights as an American citizen and let your position be known to your Congressmen.

    He made a very logical statement concerning those who adhere to the Qur’an.

    Su 9:29, ” Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His apostle nor acknowledge the religion of truth (even if they are) of the People of the Book until they pay the Jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.”

    Please don’t say that this is taken out of context because it isn’t, and this is from the 113th sura revealed so it would supersedes any previous sura.

    Therefore, I believe you owe Mr. Graham an apology and a retraction of your slanderous statements. Should you wish to discuss this further, I would be happy to.

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  2. This has been burdening me lately. I’ve had the privilege of tutoring new refugees from Afghanistan, and I have seen grown Afghan men cry over the violence of radical Islam. I can only assume that those who support Mr. Graham’s viewpoint have no personal relationships with Muslims. Since so many folks want Muslims to denounce every act of terrorism, I think it’s very appropriate that we as Christians also call out those who are misrepresenting our faith as Graham has done. Thanks for doing that!

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and for your work with Afghans. Afghanistan will always have a special place I my heart for Afghanistan. It was my favorite vacation spot growing up. I tasted my first strawberry there when I was 5 years old :). But back t the topic… I so agree with you. And of course the hypocrisy that we expect Muslims to denounce and take personal responsibility for ever act if terrorism when we don’t take responsibility for the actions made by others in the name of Christianity. Thanks for what you do.

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  3. Thank you, Marilyn. I felt the same things, but was not able to put them into words. I am a recent immigrant into the United States, and many of even the comments here make me feel so unwanted and unwelcome – and I have been involved in nonprofit work in this country for the past 20 years….

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  4. Marilyn, your article is well said, yet it actually subtracts from interfaith understanding because it fails to recognize an important aspect that hides barely below the surface. I’ll say it this way. As far as I know…
    – The acknowledged (ie “conservative”) core of the Judeo-Christian perspective is that God IS love…and also is a God of justice including ensuring oppressors do not ultimately get away with anything. God loves everyone, including those who hate Him. Those like Westboro Baptist are opposed by leaders at the core of the faith.
    – The acknowledged (ie “conservative”) core of Islam is one of some form of violent Jihad, disrespect for human rights, etc. They adhere to the concept of abrogation, where the later violent teachings override the earlier peaceful concepts. This is taught in some way at the highest centers of Islamic learning such as Al Hazar University in Cairo. Those who deny abrogation, who are all for complete interfaith dialogue, etc — such as the Ismaili muslims who follow the Aga Khan, many of them Pakistani — in general they are seen as so liberal as to not be Muslim at all!

    Thus while if we ignore this we just say “oh, Christians can be violent and Muslims can be peaceful” it is not that simple. Muslims cannot hold to the central tenets of Islam and function in a humanitarian, peace-loving, interfaith manner. Christians cannot help but do so if they hold to the central tenets of the faith.

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    1. Thanks much for coming by. The article really wasn’t about interfaith dialogue. I am greatly interested in interfaith dialogue, but don’t know that I (or Franklin) are qualified to really debate that. It was important for me to state that the truth claims are different in this article, and I hope I continue to be clear on those points. I learn a great deal from my brother, who is an Evangelical Christian with a PhD in Islamic studies living in Istanbul and directs an Institute for the Study of Religion in the Middle East.

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  5. Dear Marilyn R. Gardner

    I find what you wrote to be as off base as you feel Mr. Graham was. Why?

    “I believe you are culpable for many of the negative attitudes toward Muslims in the Evangelical church.” Wrong! Muslims are culpable for many of the the negative attitudes toward them. Muslims are the ones committing the terror acts! I don’t see any Muslims standing up and screaming for these attacks to stop. Oh sure, you might say a friend of yours is doing this to which I can only say, “show me the proof of them doing it where many people can hear and see them condemning those who are committing all of the terror attacks!”

    Anyone can say they have friends who do such and such a good thing. I can say that I have friends who are drug addicts, drunkards, prostitutes and homosexuals who do some really great things and are trying to better their lives, but this does not excuse them for being drug addicts, drunkards, prostitutes and homosexuals. I even have some friends who were formerly this way but now know God and have left those lifestyles. But, please, before you say those are different than being a Muslim let me remind you that being a Muslim is every bit the same sin before God as those I just mentioned, well, expect we don’t see those other groups committing terrorist acts, targeting Christians for murder, burning down churches, trying to convert people from Christianity to becoming a Muslim and such.

    “They no more wear the ideology of terrorism than you wear the ideology of Westboro Baptist Church.” Seriously? How do you know this? Just because your friends said so? Where will they stand if and when their fellow Muslims take to war in the streets around you? And this comparison between Westboro Church, the Muslims and Mr. Graham is absurd. Westboro takes the Bible out of context whereas the Muslim terrorists are dong exactly what the Koran commands. In fact, if a Muslim does not kills those of other faiths they are sinning against their religious commands.

    “They fear God…” Really? I thought Muslims feared Allah! You mean to tell me they fear the One True God? The God of the Bible? The head of the Trinity? Wow! I’ve never heard this before. I have always heard they hate the God of the Bible and claim He is not the true God and all that believe He is are infidels.

    What troubles me the most about what you have written is that you express being friends with Muslims, building friendships, yet you never speak of seeing them come to know Christ as their Savior. Nope, not a word about becoming friends so they can be witnessed to. I don’t even see you mention that through all of your experiences with Muslims any of them came to know Christ. I can only assume they have not or you would not being talking about your Muslim friends. You would be talking about your Christian friends who were formerly Muslims.

    As I stated earlier, are these friends standing up and shouting for the Muslim extremists to stop their atrocities? One more thing; are they supporting our troops and law enforcement officers who must combat these Muslim extremists? I would love to see proof of this.

    Finally, are these Muslim friends of yours trying to lead people to Allah? To the Muslim faith? If so, then your friends are dong more damage than the extremests and they are in fact spiritual terrorist against God and His Kingdom.

    I am not trying to be mean about this, but I do see huge holes in your argument.

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    1. Marilyn – The more attention your column attracts, the more you will also attract an intolerable type of attention. People have had to delete Facebook and Twitter accounts – and leave the Internet altogether – because they have spoken up and attracted hate-speech and threats. Please nip this in the bud and delete Dwayne’s comment. You don’t have to… of course… and you will show that you are tolerant to a diversity of opinions. But when people start using racial slurs and making absolutely intolerant comments – about every single non-WASP group of people – you will eventually realize that you have to start moderating/deleting. Dwayne’s comment is on that line; and I support deleting it. And it won’t be any good to argue point-by-point with him, and take apart his argument; because the whole thing is bigoted and hateful. So, I support deleting it; and I hope other people Reply to his comment and agree that you are safe to delete it.
      Jeremy

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      1. Misterdos- His comment is NOT bigoted or hateful and should be no more deleted than yours. Actually your comment seems a bit more hateful. Only your opinion counts? How conceited can one be?

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      2. Hi Popcorn! I love your username, because I love popcorn. So his comment is hateful and bigoted, and I can prove it. I really can! The only problem is where to start…

        You might not be aware of how hateful and bigoted people craft their comments to seem normal – so maybe it just seems to you like he is sharing his opinion on the whole Franklin Graham “keep Muslims out” comments. But that is not really what he is doing – he is trying to get everyone who reads his comment to hate Muslim people; and also to make Marilyn – who loves Muslim people, like all followers of Jesus should – look like a bad person.

        Okay, so now I will prove it:
        1) He says so many slanderous things about Muslims (slander is a legal term, so it might help to look it up) that it is hard to pick one particular thing, but here is a good one: “Muslims are the ones committing the terror acts!” There are terrorists all over the world – there are even Christian terrorists (people who say they are Christians, and commit acts of terrorism). So, what he should say is: “There are even some Muslim people committing the terror acts!” That would be the non-hateful, non-bigoted thing to say; but he said it his way on purpose – to make it seem like all Muslims are committing terror acts. There are over one-and-a-half billion Muslims in the world – and you and I both know that not all of them are committing acts of terror (in fact, 99.999999% of them aren’t); Dwayne knows that too, but he worded things the way he did on purpose, to make it seem like the entire Muslim population are terrorists.

        2) In his second paragraph, he brought up “drug addicts, drunkards, prostitutes and homosexuals” in a discussion about Muslims. Before this point in the discussion, no one was even talking about “drug addicts, drunkards, prostitutes and homosexuals” – so why did Dwayne bother to bring them up. What do they have to do with the price of tea in China? (as the saying goes…) Because he figured that people reading his comment might think of “drug addicts, drunkards, prostitutes and homosexuals” as scummy low-life people; and now he made his readers think about Muslims as scummy low-life people, and he didn’t even have to spell that out (just talking about them in the same paragraph does the trick). This is quite offensive because (a) most Muslims are just as bothered by “drug addicts, drunkards and prostitutes” as most Christians (note that I am intentionally leaving out “homosexuals” because I love Jesus and I see no problems with gay people); (b) Dwayne is trying to present himself as a Christian, but Jesus was very concerned with loving people who were looked down at by society – like “drug addicts, drunkards, and prostitutes” – so Dwayne should know better than to use them as his examples of scummy low-life people. Anyway, he only brought up these groups so that he could get people thinking about Muslims being in the same category as these people; but you and I are not hateful and bigoted, so it didn’t work on us.

        3) Next he starts harping on Marilyn about her friendships with Muslims and whether she has led any of her Muslim friends to Jesus or not. That is a tangent and distraction, because this whole conversation is about whether Franklin Graham is right about letting Muslims into the country or not. So it has nothing to do with whether Marilyn has led people to Jesus or not. This is called an “ad hominem” attack and here is how it works: I love soda pop and want everyone to love it with me, so I start talking about how great soda pop is. But you want people to love popcorn instead, so you talk about everything that is awesome about popcorn. But my arguments about soda pop are pretty convincing, and you start to see people heading for the beverage aisle, instead of the snack aisle. SO, instead of saying why popcorn is great, you start telling people what a bad guy I am. “It doesn’t matter if soda pop is great or not, because Jeremy is a dirtbag who can’t be trusted.” you say. You just – intentionally – made the argument about me (whether I am trustworthy or a dirtbag), instead of popcorn vs. soda pop. Dwayne decided he needed to make the argument about whether Marilyn was a good evangelist or not – instead of about whether Franklin Graham’s statements were right or not. I think that shows him to be hateful and bigoted, because it reveals his real goals: make people hate Muslims, and make Marilyn (who loves Muslims) look like a bad person.

        Finally, and if this doesn’t prove to you that he is hateful and bigoted I guess nothing will… his last point is that Muslim people who practice their faith and want to share their faith – which they have *every* right to in America – “are in fact spiritual terrorist[s] against God and His Kingdom.” That is pure hate and bigotry and venom – like from a snake’s poisonous fangs. That is a wicked thing to say. This is the United States of America – we cherish religious freedom here. We celebrate people being left alone to practice their faith in the way that they choose. Nobody is a “spiritual terrorist” who wants to practice their religion in the way that they believe to be right. That is why I wrote what I did. Dwayne knew what he was doing; he wasn’t trying to be thoughtful or say something that helped people to see his point of view, he was just trying to stir up hate.

        When you read comments on the Internet enough and you see how people structure their comments to seem like they are just trying to be part of the conversation – when they are really trying to write hateful and bigoted things – you start to recognize their patterns and what they are up to. I hope what I wrote was helpful for you.

        Thanks,
        Jeremy

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  6. You have so eloquently spoken my heart! I have the same friends – not the same faces or the same names but I could tell you such similar stories. Thank you for writing this!

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      1. Gifts indeed. I treasure these friendships so dearly. My Muslim friends have taught me so much about graciousness, about hospitality, and yes even about my own relationship with Jesus. I am so very blessed.

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      2. YES! About 3 years ago a friend and I co-wrote a piece called “What growing up in a Muslim country taught us about Christianity.” I am so grateful and humbled by what I’ve learned.

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  7. Marilyn,
    Your thoughtful words have been well received by me. Thank you! I echo your sentiments, your thoughts and beliefs. My experience mirrors yours.

    I am especially troubled by statements made, including Mr. Grahams, that seem so out of character from the message that Jesus so clearly spoke to us, continues to encourage, through the Holy Spirit, and the essence of the true teaching of Islam.

    I know it is not easy to put yourself out there on the internet, as you open yourself up to the crazies. My prayer is that you find peace in knowing that you have spoken the heart of Jesus.

    Your friend….Jere

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    1. So so encouraged by this comment! Thank you for taking the time to read and then go the extra step in offering these words of affirmation.

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  8. Dear Marilyn just so we make it clear that you have really a misunderstanding on Franklin Graham, Franklin Grahams organization has spend more than 17 million dollars in my country building houses and lives of Muslims in my country asking nothing in return and He has feed thousands of people in war time. He spend more than 200.000 USD in evangelism to spread gospel among my people and I witnessed and helped to do so, and that’s not love for Muslim’s that more genuine love and more genuine approach than anybody that I knew till now that came and worked with Muslims in Balkans region here where I live in Kosovo. I feel very sorry that you have that kind of misunderstanding for Franklin Graham and I don’t think what you have wrote in criticism to him is right. You have to know a man and then speak for him or about him says a proverb in my country.

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    1. Hello Pastor Skender – thank you for reading and your comment. That’s exactly why I am so disappointed with what he said. How can you love Muslims on one side of the globe, and speak so disparagingly on the other? He is a man with so much influence, and American Christians listen to him all the time. If he says things that are negative and not wise, they are repeated by others all over the country. I respect his work, which is why I am so disappointed in his words.

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      1. LIfe is full of disappointments. Goes with the territory.

        The difference in rhetoric here and loving Muslims on the other side of the globe is no doubt due to the fact that Graham LIVES here.

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      2. Yeah – disappointment is the wrong word :) Great insight. It’s easy to love across the globe – it’s a lot harder to love our neighbor. Thanks for the comment.

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      3. Marilyn: Nice job of reversing what I say to fit your model. I’m sure that Graham “loves his neighbor” as much or perhaps more than you. Perhaps we should compare resumes.

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      4. Wow, Scott. I wonder what choice words Jesus would have for two of his disciples who argued about who was doing a better job of loving their neighbor; and offering to compare resumes. Christians are often very intelligent and can often tell when one of their leaders is reaching out with love, or lashing out in not-representative-of-Christ anger. Mr. Graham is not reaching out with love by saying that Muslims should be prevented from entering the country – it is just that simple.

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  9. I am sorry I tried to find a way to private message you, but I did not see one available. I prefer to discuss issues with other believers one on one. I am concerned about your public blog to Franklin Graham. Let me explain to you using an analogy.

    I am deeply disturbed about our open Southern border. I want all legal and illegal immigration stopped until we figure out this problem. I am calling on our government to make this happen. Does this mean I am exhibiting extreme racism?

    At the same time I feel this way, I am sharing the gospel with those Latinos who are here. I also partner with another church to provide a free clinic for Latinos who need healthcare. We have also planted a Hispanic church where we are seeing a number of Latinos come to Christ. I speak to the pastors and workers in these ministries differently than I speak to our government.

    Do you think speaking to a government is different than speaking to an individual Christian? Do you think the mission of a government is different than the mission of the church?

    If Franklin Graham was speaking to our government regarding their number one priority which is the protection of our country, then could that be different than how he speaks to the number of missionaries he works with in the Muslim world?

    Also, would it have been better to share your thoughts with Franklin Graham privately and waited until you received a response? Or do you think a public letter is the Scriptural way to handle this?

    I am disappointed with the reaction of so many believers who feel the necessity to publicly rebuke on an issue where there is difference of opinion on how our government should handle this. Your comment regarding extreme racism, I believe went beyond proper communication between brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe it would be good for you to retract that statement.

    Again I wish I could have sent this to you privately, but I do admit to a high level of technological incompetence. :) Thank you for seriously considering my thoughts. God Bless.

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    1. Thanks for this thoughtful comment and I would agree with you that these things are far better done in private. I did send it to him, and friends of mine sent their own letters. but because we are not famous and are little known, he clearly does not think it worthy of response. That in itself is problematic. By another token, he is a public figure and asks for donations on a regular basis to his work. When a public figure speaks publically, they are in a postion of allowing themselves to be criticized publically. I also fear he equate defense of America with defense of the gospel. These are two different things. I would love to sit down and talk with him. Thanks again for reading, and I apologize, but I won’t retract that statement. He hurt a number of my Muslim friends and has no qualms about it. I would also say this: nothing in his statement would indicate that he is concerned that Muslims know the God he loves and serves. And it was shared and liked by over a hundred thousand people.

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      1. Are you sure he received your letter and the letter from your friends? He would receive probably hundreds if not thousands of letters a week and has staff that attend to them and they decide what he sees and doesn’t see. That can be a problem, how do you get to him personally?

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    2. Steve – I have a couple of comments/questions for you. I hope you won’t mind if I ask them in the open – I am a person who believes that public debate/discussion on this type of issue is valuable to many people (including many people who do not participate actively in the discussion).

      I am surprised and curious about your statement that you are against illegal – and legal – immigration over our Southern border. It is pretty common to talk to people who are against illegal immigration – though you and I would probably disagree about a few things on that issue – but why do you want to stop *legal* immigration? Are you also against legal immigration from Canada, or via plane from Europe? You have done a good job of establishing that you are not racist against people of Latin/South American descent; so why the halt on legal immigration from that area? (Or are you just against all immigration at this time?)

      You seem to be concerned about the influx of people over a particular border and (possibly) from a particular country. I hope you can see the clear difference between your point of view and Mr. Graham’s. Mr. Graham is advocating a halt to immigration of individuals and families based on their religious beliefs; i.e. based on the dictates of their conscience. That is absolutely unacceptable, almost certainly unconstitutional and – I believe strongly – completely un-American. He is, in fact, advocating an extreme and despicable policy for our country. I can’t say that it is racist exactly – although his position will resonate best with people who are racists against Arabs (and others from the Middle East) – but it is definitely the anti-religious version of racism (whatever that would be called).

      If I can ever find a time in our history where we have turned immigrants away from our borders based on their private religious beliefs, I am ashamed of America. That stands against the exact principles that brought the first Europeans to this continent and certainly against the philosophical foundation of our country.

      Jeremy

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      1. Marilyn,

        Thank you for your quick reply. I appreciate that and I appreciate your love for the Muslim community.
        Your reply “when a public figure speaks publicly, they are in a position of allowing themselves to be criticized publicly.”
        Where do you find this in Scripture. Everywhere I read is that this is not done publicly. When it is done publicly, it is done within the church. Please correct me because I would like to know.
        Could you explain why you think he connects defense of America with the defense of the gospel. I completely missed that.
        Finally, I’m saddened you won’t retract that statement (extreme racism). I believe that harsh a statement should have more than one Facebook post to support it. Furthermore, I believe if one looks at the body of his works and words, that one could never come to that conclusion.

        Thank you again for taking the time to help me through this.

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      2. Jeremy,

        My concern with all immigration on the Southern border is that there is so much confusion on what is legal and what is illegal. I am not sure immigrants know. I know I do not. What did the President do with his pen and his phone. I truly want that clarified.
        However, that is not the real point. Can I hold that governmental position without being labeled an extreme racist as in the original post.
        I agree with you that it is good to have open and public debate on issues. However, I believe Scripture dictates to me that rebukes are done in private.

        Can you not think of even one religion in history or at present that you would not allow to immigrate to this country? Is your principle that religious beliefs can never be considered when blocking one from immigrating to this country?

        Steve

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      3. Steve –
        Thank you for taking the time to reply to me. I appreciate it. I think you made good points and adding your thoughts to the discussion was valuable for me and (I believe) others.

        I don’t really have anything in what you wrote to disagree with, but I did want to answer your question. I thought about my answer overnight, because it occurs to me that you might be asking a trick question. I would answer “No, not one; there is not a single religion in the world whose adherents should be blocked from entering the U.S. (based on that religious affiliation). In fact it would be better for immigration service personnel to never know the private religious beliefs of the visa-applicants that they are interviewing.” And then you might come up with an asylum-from-religious-persecution-seeker scenario where I might say that their religious beliefs *should* be a factor in deciding whether to give them a visa. SO, barring that scenario that I can’t think of right now, I think you understand my position.

        As I think more about this debate, I realize that Mr. Graham’s position is not just different than mine, and not just wrong; it is evil. There were many events and public statements and governmental policies that led to Kristallnacht in Germany in 1938 – and those precursor events were the smaller evil that led to a great evil. And Mr. Graham’s statement is on par with those precursor events. It troubles me to say that, and that statement comes after much deep thought. But I believe strongly in what I am writing; and that kind of evil must be opposed, even in a very nascent stage.

        Steve – you seem like a nice guy, but *if* you support Mr. Graham – I oppose you, you are part of the problem. Please reconsider your position. Mr. Graham’s statements will cause great harm in our country and must be opposed in all ways possible.

        Thank you,
        Jeremy

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    3. Hi Steve – None of this has been done within a church context. There is no body of elders to go to to approach Graham and speak into his words. I wrote the post carefully, and don’t believe in any way that it was an ad hominem attack. If you re-read it, perhaps you will see that. His words: “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” are racist. Let me be very clear – I did not accuse him of being a racist. I spoke into his words. These are two different things. My challenge was to his statement – and I will ask you again: Would Muslims see a God of love through his blanket and very public statement? “We are under attack at home and abroad” really? By who? By white gunmen who go into elementary schools and shoot at random, destroying so many lives. By a white man who goes into a church – a prayer meeting and kills? At this point, I’d like to close the conversation. We aren’t in person, and I don’t see this going anywhere. But thanks again for coming by. Perhaps you’d like to peruse Communicating Across Boundaries and read other pieces – most of which look at faith, culture, and belonging.

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      1. Marilyn,
        I guess as they say all good things must come to an end. I want you to know that I don’t agree with everything Franklin Graham said. Nor do I agree with everything that you said. Welcome to the human race. I think Scripture speaks clearly on some issues and not so clearly on other issues. How a government handles immigration is an unclear issue for me in the Scripture. What is clear is how we rebuke another brother or sister in Christ.

        Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

        There are no qualifiers on this Scripture (like unless they publicly ask for money). His Facebook post is dated July 17. Your blog is dated July 20. You stated that you had written letters to him but received no response. Do you think three days are adequate before you publicly rebuke a brother in Christ? I am not so concerned with your message as your method. I believe God’s Word is clear on this. Others are following your example and reposting your blog.

        I feel confident that you know the Scripture. That is why I asked for Scriptural justification for your public rebuke. I know also my weaknesses. I could be missing an important principle from Scripture that would justify your rebuke of Franklin Graham publicly.

        I prayed for all your Muslim friends by name that they will come to know Jesus as more than prophet but as Savior and the Son of God. I pray that God will use you to reveal the Good News of Jesus to them.

        Blessings and Signing Off,
        Steve

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      2. Jeremy,

        I very much appreciate your response and the thoughtfulness of it. Yes, you did see the reasoning behind my question. If there is only one religion that you would oppose letting it into the country then it becomes a question of degree. It is not that you can’t oppose anyone based on their religious beliefs, but that you need to be careful when you do it.

        So in other words, I agree that it is no one’s business that I am Protestant. However, I do feel they have the right to know that I am from asylum-from-religion….. Especially if I live in the region of the world where this religion is practiced. All of this to say that immigration is really a government issue that we allow our Christian principles to guide us. There can be disagreement. And we can still love each other.

        My main issue with the post is that it did not follow the Scriptural method for rebuke as far as I can see. You can read my post to Marilyn below.

        Now let me just say that I love Franklin Graham. I don’t know you but I believe you are a brother in Christ and I could love you. I believe he is a brother in Christ and that God is using him. I pray for him because he is in a position of leadership. I do believe that all of us disappoint and that is why ultimately I will stake my life on only one person–Jesus Christ.

        One Scripture that guides me when I enter these discussions is 2 Timothy 2:24-25

        “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,”

        I truly believe that God is concerned with how we as brothers and sisters in Christ disagree. Please don’t oppose me for disagreeing with you about Franklin Graham. By simply sharing the gospel I have more opposition than I can handle. Thanks :)

        I truly mean this when I write, God Bless You Jeremy!!

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    4. Thank you. You just spoke what I believe. Stop ALL immigration until we can fix the badly broken system. In the meantime, love those who are already here. God is sovereign! Pray for His will to be done, pray and work for the salvation of ALL who do not know about saving faith in Jesus Christ. Prayerfully fight against corrupt politicians. Prayerfully fight for the founding principles of this nation. Prayerfully fight for the support of our armed forces. Pray at all times and “fight the good fight”. And above all, pray for His will to be done on earth as it is Heaven.

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    5. Franklin needs to stay out of politics and tend to his mission of helping the poor, no matter their backgrounds. His family has amassed a large fortune and can afford to do some sacrificing.

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    6. Hi Steve,
      I think you’re a bit off base when you criticize Marilyn for responding to Mr. Graham publicly. There is plenty of Scriptural basis for calling out the sin of others in a public setting. Paul called out Peter publicly for eating alone with the Jews. Read all about it in Galatians 2. In fact Paul seems to have offered critical feedback to a lot of public figures in public forums throughout his ministry. Jesus himself engaged in frequent direct debate with the religious leaders of his day…going so far as to call them whitewashed tombs and broods of vipers. I don’t think we have any reason to believe that these conversations took place in the comfortable quiet of a private church office somewhere. It was public; spoken with loud voices on crowded hillsides and temple courts. In fact most of Jesus’ PUBLIC ministry was just that…using public forums to publicly critique the practices of His Jewish brethren, and to offer a new approach. Marilyn was well within the precedent set by Scripture when she chose to respond to Grahams (public) comments publicly.

      Matthew 18 is a challenging, beautiful, and critically important passage of scripture. It gives us a model for resolving interpersonal conflict that preserves the dignity of both the wronged and the wrongdoer, and shows us a way toward justice, mercy, reconciliation, and restored relationship. I love Matthew 18. It’s important, though, not to stretch what the passage is saying. In my reading (and the reading of many) Jesus is here offering instruction for what to do in the case of sin by one person directly against another. It’s about private/interpersonal sin. The context of the relationship is important.

      Mr. Graham did not sin directly against Marilyn, so I would argue that she was not obligated to employ the Matthew 18 protocol. He offered a public opinion on a public issue, and she responded appropriately.

      To argue that all criticisms of Christian leaders should be kept “in-house” (i.e be done privately) undermines the rich heritage of our faith. All of the prophets criticized the leaders of their shared faith in public. Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door of the church…right there for everyone to see. Rev. Dr. King offered religiously driven criticism of many who claimed to be brothers in the faith. Marilyn is just the latest in a long line of humble and wise people who manage to pull together the courage to speak truth to power. It’s a tremendously scary thing given the barbs and arrows that are hurled at them as thanks for their courage, and I think they deserve to be listened to and applauded.

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      1. T

        Thank you for your post. I want you to know I am glad you responded to my post and I do not think I am some super saint pointing down at Marilyn and rebuking her. In fact, I was hoping to have the whole conversation in private. I was not sure what the moderator would do when I first wrote.

        But to discuss your post with you. Galatians 2 is a public rebuke and there is no doubt about this. However, because all the names Paul mentions int he is chapter are Christians, I take this to be a rebuke within the church. Matthew 18 allows for this. In fact, Paul and Peter had already had a private meeting on this very issue and both had agreed on what the proper attitude and behavior towards Gentiles should be. We do see in Acts that there was public debate within the church. Acts 15 shows this. They did not go public in Antioch with their issues. They then went to other leaders within the church (in Jerusalem). In fact, Paul submitted himself to this process. In a private meeting within the church they settled the dispute on Gentiles and circumcision.

        Matthew 18:15 does not specify only a brother who sins against you. It simply says a brother who sins. If I find out that a brother or sister is living in some sort of ungodly sin then I can’t ignore it, just because it is not against me. The Corinthian church had to deal with a man who had an intimate relationship with his stepmom (1 Cor 5). The church did not have to wait on the dad to start the process of rebuke, but were obligated to address the sin (within the church) even though it was not against them personally.

        Jesus’ responses were certainly public, but first of all–He was Jesus!! Furthermore, he was dealing with a nation and not the church. In other words, he never appealed to Rome to deal with the Jewish problem. He spoke within the nation itself and to the leaders.

        Regarding Martin Luther and Rev. Dr. King, I simply don’t know enough detail to speak about them or their methods adequately. I know the Bible is the Word of God. I depend on it because I know my reasoning can easily be guided by pride and selfishness. I want to follow the Lord’s way and not the way of even very good men. That is why I appeal to Scripture.

        I also have a passion for the unity of the church. I think it is important to Christ as well. I admit I don’t like it when brothers and sisters are “at odds” with one another (although it happens–Paul and Barnabas). I would like them to try to settle their disputes privately instead of putting it out before the whole world to see. I believe this is Scriptural but my mind can certainly be changed with Scripture.

        Blessings,
        Steve

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  10. As a Westerner who has lived in the East and regularly hosts Easterners in the West, I appreciate this article, and your heart to love Muslims. When you are looking into someone’s eyes across the table and learning about what life is for them, it’s much different than when you are reading a headline and assuming things about them.

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    1. Love this Julie. “When you are looking into someone’s eyes across the table…” In health care we have something we call the “Explanatory Model.” How I describe it is the “Insider’s view of their illness.” Instead of looking at it from my Western, biomedical view, I ask a series of questions to get to the heart of what the patient thinks. That’s what I thought of when I read your comment. It’s only then that we can gain empathy and understanding. Thanks so much for this.

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  11. While I appreciate the sentiment in this article, it does not change for me, the reality that the freedom of the nation, enjoyed by people of various cultures, is highly dependent upon Judeo-Christian principles that under-gird the fabric of America. It’s a great irony that a Christian leader, who surely must feel a strong responsibility to carry forward the legacy of his father in standing for the Christian foundations of the free world, is faulted for attempting to stand up for Christian freedom by the very people who have come from other nations to participate in it, and not have to care about what it takes to uphold it. Ironically as well, not until it’s lost will we realize why it was such a big deal. Yes, there are many Muslims who are peace-loving and wish to adapt to the freedom and relative peace of the west but they are counting on those who have already established it to know how to uphold it on their behalf. That there are comments here denouncing the extreme efforts of soldiers in the past for fight for our freedom, suggest that there is a sense of entitlement on this post, or at the very least ignorance, and a denial of the grave threats to our freedom in the past. The comment about what was done to Japan boggles the mind, considering the unprovoked attack of Japan on Pearl Harbour and subsequent war imposed by them on the free world. All the pleasant personalities in the world don’t change the fact that there are some ideologies which promote peace and there are others that don’t. Based on the contents of its holy book, Islam is one that does NOT, and anyone who is able to practice it and still be peaceful and respectful of others’ freedom, must have to ignore large chunks of this book which call on them to do otherwise. Franklin Graham may have said some things that were offensive to many people, but I’d rather hear them anyway and make up my own mind, than have everyone try to dumb down and pretend Islam is not a potentially violent ideology. In the past century there have been roughly 18 million Muslims killed around the world – by EACH OTHER. Someone who is considered a Christian leader would feel responsible to point it out while the rest of us go about our complacent, self-serving, entitled lives.

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    1. Dear Mary –
      I am replying to your comment in the hope of changing your mind on one or two things; i.e. 100% of my motivation in typing this long reply is to help you to rethink various positions that you have expressed in your comment. But I don’t want that hope to cloud the fact that (a) I believe you to be exactly wrong on all of your points; and that (b) I find your comment – taken as a whole – to be deeply disturbing.

      You wrote: “the reality that the freedom of the [United States], enjoyed by people of various cultures, is highly dependent upon Judeo-Christian principles that under-gird the fabric of America.” I have heard many people express this belief in many different ways, so I will be addressing this idea in a separate comment. You are wrong, of course – from a practical, current-day point-of-view; as well as from an historical point-of-view.

      You express support for standing up for something called “Christian freedom”. I don’t know what you mean by that term. If you are referring to “religious freedom” – the freedom in the U.S. guaranteed by the 1st Amendment of citizens to belong to any religion (i.e. to be free from having their allegiance to a particular religion be mandated) – it is very strange (and, frankly, disturbing) that you attach that freedom to a particular religion. Calling it “Christian freedom” runs exactly counter to the idea of “freedom of conscience” that is intended by the 1st Amendment. If you are referring to the freedom for Christians that has been purchased by the death on cross of the Son of God, then your comments do not make sense – our “Christian freedom” is freedom from sin (not Muslims or terrorists). And, I would argue that this “Christian freedom” imparts the responsibility to share the good news of what Jesus did for us – which is easiest to share with Muslims (for example) when they are in our own country.

      It is upsetting and 100% wrong for you to imply (fairly directly) that new immigrants to this country do not have a proper respect for the freedoms that they enjoy here (or will enjoy, when they become U.S. citizens); and don’t give a care to the costs that are paid, and have been paid, to ensure those freedoms. Shame on you. You could not be more wrong. If you think you can defend this point of view, please try. I can literally give you hundreds of examples of new- and not-yet-citizens who have worked hard for our – for my – freedom. Here is one: Please search for “Marcario Garcia” via Google or Wikipedia. This not-yet-citizen who fought for the U.S. Army in WW II possibly saved the life of my grandfather in Germany. Shame on you; what a disgusting thing to think and write.

      You are very wrong about the treatment of Japanese in World War II. Pearl Harbour was attacked in 1941 by the Japanese military – under orders from a dictatorial government in Tokyo. Japanese-American Naval troops (i.e. Americans) were killed in that attack. In response, the U.S. government instituted a completely racist, oppressive and – from a practical standpoint – unhelpful policy that imprisoned over 70,000 United States citizens; based purely on their ethnic heritage. How can you defend such a policy? One hopes that by studying history, people will be motivated to not make the same mistakes that have been made in the past. That you are defending a past wrong while you defend your current position demonstrates the wrongness of your point of view.

      You have made comments that intend to reinforce the misperception that Islam is a naturally violent religion. You are wrong; and Marilyn consistently does a better job than I could do of pointing out why this an incorrect perception of Islam and Muslim people. You are entitled to your opinion, of course, but Franklin Graham is a very influential person and his slandering of a whole group of people should be called out and criticized.

      You wrote: “in the past century there have been roughly 18 million Muslims killed around the world – by EACH OTHER.” What an ignorant point to make. Germany was a largely Christian country and murdered millions of Jewish and Russian people (with virtually no Muslim influence on German policies). Christianity is clearly a “violent ideology”, by that line of thinking. In the 1860s, during the U.S. Civil War, almost a quarter of a million Christian Americans killed EACH OTHER – in just FOUR YEARS. Your mistake is that you are pointing to wars that happened in Muslim countries and then blaming the deaths from these wars on the “violent ideology”; yet I am sure you find other explanations for deaths due to wars in predominantly Christian countries.

      In your last statement, you describe our lives as “complacent, self-serving, entitled”. I am sad if you are describing your own life; you are certainly not describing my life, or the lives of most immigrants in this country (Muslim and otherwise). You live in a country that is filled with immigrants and people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds; and you are writing in support of a “Christian leader” who has taken it upon himself to say that members of one group should be kept out. (After mass-murders by mentally ill people, does he express the desire to keep out all mentally ill people?). And the thing that bothers me the most, is that you invoke the name of Jesus (via Christ, via Christian) no less than five times in a comment intended to defend a position that – you well know – is directly opposed to the teachings of Jesus. Jesus would never have told his followers to try to keep the Samaritans (for example) out because some of them caused trouble for the Jewish people. He would have wanted us to welcome them and love them and “wish for them, my friend, this happiness that we have found.” How sad that Christianity – for you – imparts the exact opposite point-of-view.

      Warm regards,
      Jeremy Ellis

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      1. One last note:
        At various points in my life, I have heard people say that the United States of America (nation) was “founded on Judeo-Christian principles”. It was most recently mentioned by Mary Wells, which is why I am adding this comment here. “Founded on Judeo-Christian principles” is sort of a nebulous statement – Which principles, exactly? How are these principles specific to Judaism and/or Christianity? How was the nation “founded” on them?

        I have been reading and studying lately about the American Revolutionary War – and I have always been interested in the lives and thoughts of our Founding Fathers. Our nation was actually founded on principles that were identified in a period of European history called the “Age of Reason” or “Age of Enlightenment” – where there was growing tolerance for points of view that were different from the traditional philosophies of the Christian church in (mostly) theocratic Europe. There was an increased interest in science and critical thought about religion; and a useful type of intellectual skepticism regarding the Church and its teachings.

        The Founding Fathers – particularly Washington and Jefferson – strongly resisted the idea that the nation, and its founding documents, should be based on any religious beliefs or teachings. They believed in the philosophy of *reason* and reasoning about things. Governments should be based on reasonable laws; laws should be based on reason (not religion) and a general respect for the dignity of all people.

        Summary: People who believe that the United States was founded on “Judeo-Christian principles” are wrong. It was founded on the principles of (a) the rule of Law, (b) the importance of reason and critical thought, and (c) the inherent dignity of human beings.

        Thanks,
        Jeremy

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      2. Hello! I’m actually replying to a post from Jeremy (“MisterDos”) which I think will appear below my current post.

        Jeremy says that the Founding Fathers of the United States “strongly resisted the idea that the nation, and its founding documents, should be based on any religious beliefs or teachings.”

        I respectfully disagree. Perhaps it would be helpful to hear from the Founding Fathers, in their own words?
        *************************************************************************

        “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.” ~John Adams

        “In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.” ~John Adams

        “Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be!” ~John Adams

        “[T]he Christian religion – its general principles – must ever be regarded among us as the foundation of civil society.” ~Daniel Webster, known as “the Defender of the Constitution”

        “[T]he only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.” ~Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, called “the Father of Public Schools under the Constitution”

        “The Bible, when not read in schools, is seldom read in any subsequent period of life… [T]he Bible… should be read in our schools in preference to all other books because it contains the greatest portion of that kind of knowledge which is calculated to produce private and public happiness.” ~Benjamin Rush

        “Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement.” ~John Hancock

        “Let us enter on this important business under the idea that we are Christians on whom the eyes of the world are now turned… [L]et us earnestly call and beseech Him, for Christ’s sake, to preside in our councils. . . . We can only depend on the all powerful influence of the Spirit of God, Whose Divine aid and assistance it becomes us as a Christian people most devoutly to implore. Therefore I move that some minister of the Gospel be requested to attend this Congress every morning . . . in order to open the meeting with prayer.” ~Elias Boudinot, president of Congress, framer of the Bill of Rights

        Congress, U. S. House Judiciary Committee, 1854:
        “Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle… In this age, there can be no substitute for Christianity… That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.”

        “[T]he religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles… This is genuine Christianity and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.” ~Noah Webster

        “There must be religion. When that ligament is torn, society is disjointed and its members perish… [T]he most important of all lessons is the denunciation of ruin to every state that rejects the precepts of religion.” ~Gouverneur Morris, member of the Continental Congress and Signer of the Constitution

        “[O]ur citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion.” ~Noah Webster

        “[H]e is the best friend to American liberty who is the most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country.” ~John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration of Independence

        “The practice of morality being necessary for the well being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus…” ~Thomas Jefferson

        “I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ…” ~James Madison

        “I recommend a general and public return of praise and thanksgiving to Him from whose goodness these blessings descend. The most effectual means of securing the continuance of our civil and religious liberties is always to remember with reverence and gratitude the source from which they flow.” ~John Jay, president of Congress, author of the Federalist Papers

        “The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible.” ~Patrick Henry

        “[P]ublic utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. Without the Bible, in vain do we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions.” ~James McHenry, signer of the Constitution

        “To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. All efforts made to destroy the foundations of our Holy Religion ultimately tend to the subversion also of our political freedom and happiness. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation… in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom… Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government – and all the blessings which flow from them – must fall with them.” ~Jedidiah Morse

        To read many more quotes, and to see the original sources from which these quotes are excerpted, please visit Wallbuilders dot com

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      3. It seems that these comments, Lydia, are personally held beliefs and reinforce that those individuals were committed to their faith and wanted to practice their religion without persecution–a principle upon which this country was founded. I’m not a history scholar, but I don’t believe you will read those same–or similar–comments in the founding documents of the country precisely because they strongly endorsed freedom of religion.

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    2. Hi Mary – thanks for coming by Communicating Across Boundaries for the first time. I think if you stick around that you will find the audience here to be one of the least complacent, self-serving, or entitled on the internet. Almost all of the readers have at one time or other given their lives in the service of others. They hail from every corner of the globe and are involved in working with sex trafficked women, the homeless, refugees, education, and more in places that you may never want to set foot in.
      I fear that you, like many in the United States, equate defending America with defending the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. They are not the same thing. I’m at a loss as to what to say to folks who marry the two without critical thought to the implications.”God is not North American. He spans nation and ocean, culture and ethnicity. To bind him to one nation is idolatry. To attach Him to one country elevates our own perceptions of that country. Secretly believing that God is North American justifies our private beliefs that we are superior. It’s not true.” This is from a piec you can read in CAB called What Growing up in a Muslim Country taught us about Christianity. I hope you’ll stick around though – because there is some good discussion that goes on here from a variety of people. https://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com/2014/06/28/ramadan-2014-what-growing-up-in-a-muslim-country-taught-us-about-christianity/

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    3. Speaking of Pearl Harbor and unprovoked attacks – the United States of America is one of the worst perpetrators in history of initiating unprovoked attacks. I am a United States military veteran, not a Muslim, and I am a son of a Southern Baptist minister. I have served this country that I love dearly. That obliges me to be honest about the actions of the country that I served. I also have a great interest in WW II and have researched it quite a bit and to say that the Pearl Harbor attack was unprovoked is the reflection of a person that has chosen not to learn history. Do I condone the attack on Pearl Harbor? Of course not. I don’t condone attacks at all. I don’t support war at all. War doesn’t reflect what Jesus taught – his message was of love and humility, not defense and domination.

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  12. And this powerful post is exactly why your voice is needed whenever you are moved to raise it! I share your hurt, concern, outrage and determination to speak for those maligned by stereotyping and wounded by a different sort of malice than physical violence …. violence done to the soul. May there be Grace in enough abundance to heal the wounds of racism, ethnocentrism, and prejudice in so many beautiful people, the ones I know personally and all those I do not.

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    1. Great to hear from you Bill! And thank you for your kind words. I keep in touch with Lois periodically and the Kelsey name is still used a lot around our house :) all good!

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  13. I was really struck on Sunday by a passage in Romans 2:4…the kindness of God leads to repentance. We must win by kindness, a battering ram will not work.

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    1. I LOVE that verse. They have been going through my head the last month in relationship to some other things I’ve been working through. Powerful indeed. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Thanks Laurie – I so appreciate that you read and passed it on. I hoped CAB readers would get the importance of holding him accountable for his words.

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      1. Dear Marilyn,

        I was schooled in a missionary school where I was taught to love life, to respect every person, to understand people’s circumstances to forgive their behaviors, to pursue the goodness of my faith; all by my respected and wonderful Christian teachers. To date I live by the principles that they taught me and amazingly enough they are the same morals that my faith binds me to. I see no difference in the message of goodness in each and every religion. We have more commonalities then the differences. I don’t know why we fail to celebrate and come together on our commonalities than to focus on our differences to create distance. I admire your response to respected Mr. Graham, as I see in you all my respected Christian teachers. I am sure Mr. Graham was angry and we say things in anger which we really don’t mean. In time, as his anger subsides he will realize and retract his statement and I know for sure that the overwhelming majority of Christians will support and admire that. We all are angry at the heinous crime committed against peaceful and innocent people. It’s a senseless act that has nothing to do with the majority of Muslims, as you rightfully pointed out. We have chosen to make America our home and have taken an oath to protect her. And my faith requires me to honor that oath at all costs. Thank you again for the beautiful article you posted and rekindled the cherished memories of my school years.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Marilyn……you have a wonderful way of writing. You have expressed all of this so beautifully. Thank you for…….well, just being here and doing what you do. It is so needed, especially in these days.

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    1. Thank you so much for these kind words. I don’t always do well in confrontation through writing, sometimes too reactionary, sometimes too tepid but I felt so strongly about this that I needed to go out on a limb.

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  15. Amen! Powerful words. Beautifully written. Thank you for this articulate expression of faith and relationships.

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  16. Oh, thank you so much for this. I sat in shock the other night reading not only Mr. Graham’s statement but the thousands of Christians that agreed with him. I felt so much hope sinking away, hope for believers to understand how to love Muslims and not blindly follow the hurtful words of leaders who are not leading them to love like Christ. I lived in Egypt as well (just had this story published today about the incredible love I found also in the world of Muslims: http://shelovesmagazine.com/2015/my-daughters-namesake/ ). Sharing this, thank you!

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    1. I fell in love with Egypt! While Pakistan was my childhood home, Egypt was my adult love. I’m so happy you came by and I am heading to Sheloves to read your article. Thank you.

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  17. Oh, thank you so much for this. I sat in shock the other night reading not only Mr. Graham’s statement but the thousands of Christians that agreed with him. I felt so much hope sinking away, hope for believers to understand how to love Muslims and not blindly follow the hurtful words of leaders who are not leading them to love like Christ. I lived in Egypt as well (just had this story published today about the incredible love I found also in the world of Muslims: http://shelovesmagazine.com/2015/my-daughters-namesake/ ). Sharing this, thank you!

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  18. My first thought when I heard about this statement (besides disbelief, perhaps this was fabricated? but then I always think that on the internet), anyway when I first heard this, I thought, “That’s ridiculous, Muslims aren’t the only ones who do mass shootings and killings in the U.S.!!” And then I heard about the 2nd part, about WWII, and thought, “That’s terrible, what we did was terrible, we shouldn’t be looking to our treatment of Japanese as an example of anything but what NOT to do.”

    Anyway, now that I’ve seen your response and the original statement, I’m sad, because it was real and true and he actually said those things. I’m not particularly political (especially on the internet), but thank you for taking a stand on this. It’s so important. ~Elizabeth

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    1. Yeah – I hear you about being political! Me neither, as you know from my blog! But I felt really compelled to respond to this. It is so troubling to me. And I didn’t believe the statement at first either. The sad thing? His statement got around 150,000 shares……who ARE we?? whoops! Sorry – 160,000 likes and 57,000 shares…..

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  19. Hey, sis–I don’t know if you already did it, but I posted the link to this in my own inflammed response to Mr. Graham. It is just so very SAD when a prominent Christian leader says such inflammatory things. Where is the LOVE OF JESUS in his comments??? Anyway, if he heard it from you, he got it twice!! Thanks a million for writing what I did not have time to do right now:)

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  20. I also do not agree with Mr. Graham’s comments; however, you are walking the slippery slope of heresy when you state “…Muslims who fear God,…”. Muslims do not fear the God of the Bible.. they may have a god (notice the upper case and lower case G’s) but it is not the God of the Christian. They serve Muhammad and the Koran is their guide book. Please do not, as you have indicated, think or write that they serve the same God of the Bible.

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    1. Are you familiar with the history of Islam? Muslims actually do worship and believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob just as Jews and Christians do. There are major differences when it comes to “Who is Jesus” – but the God they believe in is the same.

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    2. I would recommend that you read up on Islam just a little more. Muslims believe in the same 1 God as the Christians and the Jews. There is no slippery slope. There is nothing to think or write except for this fact known to believers and scholars alike.

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    3. Hi Kevin – thanks for commenting. I think I was quite clear in the post about what I term “truth claims” differing. I would also echo some of the thoughts written above. As Melissa says, the truth claims about Jesus are completely different, but, while characteristics of God may differ, I would suggest it is the same God.

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      1. “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”
        -1 John 2:23
        “And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
        -John 5:37-40

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  21. Regardless of what news I read lately, hatred and false perceptions seem to be at its core fiber. May we all do our part to stop this cancer from growing.
    Wishing you a pleasant week, Petra

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  22. Ah! I’m not sure about this: ” . . .than you wear the ideology of Westboro Baptist Church. ” My reading of this Mr. Graham is that he’d be right out there with them. Such a pity.

    Thank you for this Marilyn. Your voice is bigger than you think.

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  23. As a Christian concerned about the inability of other Christians to encounter and live with other faiths, I believe you are a voice of compassion and encouragement. Thank you for speaking out to Dr. Graham from you own personal experience. Though not a third world kid, I have traveled and made friends with people around the world both at home and while away. We have to know the “other” to get past being so judgmental.

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    1. Thanks so much for these kind words Rhonda. We share the same heart for others I think. Tzvetan Tdorov says that “the first spontaneious reaction in regard to the stranger is to consider him as inferior, because he is dfferent from us.” So much truth in that quote!

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      1. Rhonda, I completely agree. As I shared on my Facebook timeline: https://www.facebook.com/amy.c.jung.1

        “Marilyn Gardner is a compassionate, insightful, articulate and well-informed author who has chosen to approach comments by a Christian leader, not by ranting against him, but by introducing him to her friends, affirming the validity of his pain, and talking through the impacts of our angry words. She gently prompts Mr. Graham to dialogue personally with Muslim leaders as well as with her.

        “To build relationships with people of other faiths is not compromising our faith. Rather, it’s living out a faith that is not threatened but firm.”

        I’m a more compassionate human for having read Gardner’s piece.”

        Thank you, Marilyn. Keep it up.
        Amy Jung (Fellow TCK, MK, and FIGT writers’s workshop participant)

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