For Franklin Graham, The Crusades Never End

franklin grahamThousands of American deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are the legacy of a continuing Christian crusade promoted by Franklin Graham, who now is claiming in television interviews that President Obama is a born Muslim and a questionable convert to Christianity.

This week’s burning of Korans in Afghanistan is only the most recent instance of anti-Muslim behavior infecting American forces despite official policies to the contrary.

Graham blessed the emerging war in Iraq at George Bush’s 2001 inauguration. In those days he called Islam a “very evil and wicked religion.” (New York Times, April 6, 2003) Bush already had used the code word “crusade”, a term he subsequently withdrew after criticism. But bibles accompanied the bombs, one million printed in Arabic and distributed across Iraq during the war’s first year. One hundred fifty American missionaries moved into Iraq that  same year. Nine evangelical churches were opened. It was End Time between the Tigres and Euphrates for Graham’s missionary legions.

At the same time, the point person for intelligence at the Pentagon was Lt. Gen. William Boykin, a steady speaker on the evangelical breakfast circuit. Bush was “appointed by God”, Boykin said, adding that ours is a “real god” while Allah is only an idol. “Satan wants to destroy us because we are a Christian army [representing] a nation of believers,” he declared. (Los Angeles Times, October 16, 2003)

Another neo-crusader was the Pentagon’s inspector-general, Joseph E. Schmitz, whose own website identified him with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, an 11th-century crusader group whose mission was to “defend territories the Christians had captured from the Moslims.” (New York Times, July 13, 2005) Schmitz resigned from the Pentagon in September 2005 to become an executtive with Blackwater (now Xe), the secretive Blackwater mercenary firm whose leaders included several members of the Order as well, according to Jeremy Scahill’s 2007 bookBlackwater (p. 299).  Schmitz’s father was John Schmitz, the far-right Congressman from Orange County.

Perhaps most sinister has been the creeping takeover of the military’s chaplain corps by evangelicals, as first documented by historian Anne Loveland in 1997 and confirmed at the height of the Iraq War by the New York Times in an article entitled “Evangelicals Are Growing Force in Military Chaplain Corps.” (July 13, 2005)

No less than 4,487 American soldiers and 1,654 contractors have died in this neo-crusade in Iraq alone, along with hundreds of thousand of Iraqis.

Bush himself was forced to back away from assertions that the war on terrorism was a war on Islam. Obama never picked up the crusader mantle. But thanks to Graham and his institutional allies, there exists to this day a hidden crusader dimension in these wars. Hidden, that is, except for moments like the present when Graham injects himself into the presidential campaign debate by casting doubt on Obama’s Christian commitment and reviving the claim that the son of a Muslim is therefore a born Muslim. Graham’s questioning of Obama’s conversion to Christianity is not only an attack on the President’s motives but an indirect dismissal of black liberation theology as developed by James Cone and adopted by Obama’s minister in Chicago, Jeremiah Wright.

tom haydenIt should be pointed out that Graham and his allies have blood on their hands, not only Muslim blood but the blood of thousands of young Americans who marched off to Baghdad to fight a war blessed on high as a crusade against a wicked religion. That war is lost, those lost souls are irretrievable, and Franklin’s latest statements are constitute a subtle suggestion that the final crusade is at home, where Graham suspects that a born Muslim has penetrated the White House.

Tom Hayden
The Peace Bulletin 


  1. JoeWeinstein says

    I thought Hayden was way better than that, but here he goes into the McCarthyist pit of guilt by association: Graham et al urged or anyhow supported or aided war in Iraq, therefore US deaths there are Graham’s ‘legacy’.   Gee, I guess that means that the Yankee deaths in our Revolutionary War are Tom Paine’s ‘legacy’, the Union Civil War dead are Walt Whitman’s ‘legacy’,  etc. And US war deaths are the ‘legacy’ of any religious group that is represented in the military chaplaincy. 

    As to whether any person either IS a member of a given religious group, or anyhow was BORN a member of that group: for either question several different sorts of legitimate sources of an opinion and perspective may exist:   the person himself, the person’s parents or guardians, the group (or its traditions or heirarchy), and general society. 

    The child’s personal perspective will likely match that of his parents or guardians, but this perspective need have little to do with his perspective later as adult on the issue of whether he was truly ‘born’ into a given religion – or indeed whether he now truly ‘is’ of that religion. 

    Religions differ – indeed denominations can differ – in their criteria for being ‘born’ into the religion, or indeed for ‘belonging’ to it.  It seems that from the traditional perspective of many or all Christian denominations, no one is actually ‘born’ Christian, but it need not take very long for a newborn to be baptized Christian.  Meanwhile, from a traditional Jewish perspective, one born of a Jewish mother is indeed ‘born’ Jewish, and from a Reform Jewish perspective one born of a Jewish father is also ‘born’ Jewish. 

    In particular, as to whether Obama was ‘born’ – or for that matter ‘is’ – Moslem: the answer would seem to depend utterly on just whose perspective you are claiming to describe.   


  2. Ernst Ghermann says

    Of course, nobody is a born Muslim or a born Christian, we are all born atheists and then indoctrinated into our religion.

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