Pentagon Rescinds Franklin Graham’s Invitation, Al Sharpton is Welcome at White House
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
In a press release, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins called the Army's decision "further evidence that the leadership of our nation's military has been impaired by the politically correct culture being advanced by this Administration. Under this Administration's watch we are seeing the First Amendment, designed to protect the religious exercise of Americans, retooled into a sword to sever America's ties with orthodox Christianity."
Graham's comments could certainly be considered inflammatory, but it should be noted that the Obama Administration hasn't always backed away from controversial religious leaders.
An April 17 front page Washington Post article by Krissah Williams on Rev. Al Sharpton detailed how he has been an "ally" to Barack Obama since the 2008 election:
Sharpton has been among the president's chief defenders against criticism from television host Tavis Smiley that "black folks are catching hell" and that the president should do more to specifically help blacks.
"We need to try to solve our problems and not expect the president to advocate for us," Sharpton said on his radio show. "It is interesting to me that some people don't understand that to try to make the president do certain things will only benefit the right wing, who wants to get the president and us."
Williams also noted several times in the article the link between Obama cabinet officials and Sharpton, with officials speaking at his National Action Network conference and regularly appearing on his radio program.
But Sharpton is not without his own controversies, to say the very least. Earlier this spring he told Fox News "The American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama."
Last fall Sharpton played a role in blocking Rush Limbaugh's ownership bid of the NFL's St. Louis Rams, going so far as to send a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The letter read in part, "Rush Limbaugh has been divisive and anti-NFL on several occasions, with comments about NFL players, including Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb, and his recent statement that the NFL was beginning to look like a fight between the Crips and the Bloods without the weapons was disturbing."
Furthermore, Sharpton, the race huckster, owes his current status to his involvement in a string of contemptible incidents in New York. In the 1987 Tawana Brawley case, he slandered an innocent man in the course of defending an infamous "race crime" hoax. He was sued and lost a judgment for $345,000, without ever retracting or apologizing for his accusation. His race demagoguery resulted in violence and deaths on more than one occasion.
Safe to say, Franklin Graham's remarks about Islam, however objectionable, didn't incite murder.