Franklin Graham, the influential Evangelical Culture Warrior and self-proclaimed heir to Billy Graham’s legacy told Muslims to “go back to where you came from.” Literally. Franklin is the de facto head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as well as Samaritan’s Purse, a nonprofit charity and disaster relief organization that he makes bank from. And he has a history of both racism and commandeering the legacy of the US’s founding to his narrow religious views. First, in his own dumbass words:
We should be afraid of Sharia law. We should be absolutely afraid of it. No question about it, because there’s no tolerance in Sharia law. It persecutes those that do not believe in Islam [Editor’s note: Franklin needs to stop lying about Sharia]. And I would say to Muslims in this country, if they want to practice Sharia law, go back to where you came from, to those nations that recognize sharia law. But we have our own laws here.
It doesn’t get more blatantly or obnoxiously racist than when a white person tells a person of color to “go back to where you came from.” If we stopped right there, that should be it. I want to remind the Euro-American Franklin Graham that it was Euro-Americans who colonized this land and who stole and transported people across continents. Western Europeans and Euro-Americans, groups to which most of us reading this belong, stole and seized land throughout continents. Western Europeans and Euro-Americans who wiped and are continuing to wipe people groups off the face of the earth. Western Europeans and Euro-Americans who have and continue to steal resources and plot wars and support coups and destabilize regions in order to get to oil and diamonds and whatever other resource they can easily.
This is not to play guilt trip. It is to say that we should be cognizant of the world we exist in today and the power dynamics that are in play, particularly when a white multimillionaire male who’s had everything handed to him on a silver platter (and clearly deserves none of it) says to darker-skinned people that they should “go back.” He who has all the power and all that… It is not just ironic in the sense of that meme with Native Americans standing over anti-immigrant white people and demanding they go back, either. It’s downright dangerous as people with lower economic, political and social stature than Graham take his teachings to street level. This isn’t the first nor the last time he’s given incendiary racist remarks out in public either, as Anthea Butler outlines here, with his Birtherism and anti-black and anti-Muslim dog whistles.
It is these dog whistles that condone violence done to people of color and those who are in the ostracized religions (or non-religions). Which brings us to our second point – Franklin Graham argues against Muslims being able to interpret religious decrees in a way that is faithful to both US law and communal beliefs for their own selves, but tries to establish religious laws over everybody else. This is clearly seen in this anti-Muslim action, but also very clearly in his homoantagonistic actions. In declaring himself every bit of an activist as his father who supported Dr. King, (I sh*t you not), the younger Graham also works against equal rights for LGBTQ people (for example). While Franklin Graham seems to believe he’s fighting for the Constitution, he’s obviously fighting against it by laying exclusive conservative Christian claim to it.
To buffer Graham’s obvious breach of the First Amendment,
In his obvious reference to the Equal Protection Clause, Gerson holds that Islam and Catholicism are institutions equally deserving of protection for their doctrines and practices. This is exactly the type of dangerous sophistry honest observers like Rev. Graham warns us about.
And here’s the rub, isn’t it? Christianity is “worthy” while Islam isn’t? I know that Christians and Atheists are going to argue up a shit storm in the comments here, but I close with these words from Thomas Jefferson:
“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
– Notes on Virginia
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