President and CEO of Samaritan's Purse Rev. Franklin Graham issued a dire warning for Christians in the United States over the weekend that persecution will hit like a "storm" in this country.
The son of legendary American evangelist Billy Graham made the sharp comments Sunday during "Fox and Friends Weekend." He also talked about it at length during a recent interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.
"I believe we're going to see persecution in this country," Graham said. "We've already seen many laws that have been passed that restrict our freedom as Christians."
Graham told "Fox and Friends Weekend" host Tucker Carlson that in addition to praying, the other solution to fixing the potential persecution problem could involve encouraging more Christians to run for office.
"We have a problem in Washington, and we have become so greedy, we have become so bitter, and we fight with one another," Graham said. "But we need Christian Democrats and Christian Republicans running for office. And we need to get God back in Washington."
The reverend elaborated on why he thought persecution of the Christian faith could grow in the U.S.
"I believe it's going to get worse, and we see no question gaining influence in Washington by those that represent the Islamic faith," Graham said. "We do have a problem in this country and we are losing our religious freedom and we're losing it a little bit day by day."
According to Courtney Coren of Newsmax, Graham cited examples in the Middle East where Christians started to become targets for persecution, most notably in Iraq and Syria. He noted that before the U.S. intervention to topple Saddam Hussein's regime, Iraq had a large Christian minority.
"When that government fell and the new government came to power, the Islamists in the country, al-Qaida and others, began to attack and burn churches," Graham said. "We've seen that happen throughout Iraq, and now it's happening in Syria."
Graham contended that persecution of Christians in the Middle East started long before ISIS rose up in the region.
"This isn't something that has just happened with ISIS," Graham said. "This has been going on for centuries, and has been going on in Egypt. When those Egyptian men [Coptic Christians] had their heads cut off, that's not the first time."
However, Derek Penwell of the Huffington Post pointed out that Graham had a history of questioning President Obama's Christian faith. He argued that Graham may be off the mark when it came to Islamic influence in the U.S.
"Even if Franklin Graham were right, what exactly would be the problem with Muslims having greater access to the White House?" Penwell asked. "Unless somebody hijacked the Constitution or the Golden Rule when I wasn't paying attention, it is neither illegal nor immoral to be a practitioner of Islam."
Penwell contended that the evangelist was paranoid of Islam, hence his statements fearing of a coming Christian persecution in the U.S.
"To his way of thinking, a Muslim is a Muslim is a Muslim," Penwell wrote. "He seems to labor under the paranoid delusion that all Muslims are dangerously subversive suicide-bombers-in-waiting tout court. But that's a terribly unfair brush with which to paint all Muslims."
According to Coren, Graham emphasized that the teachings of Islam focused on the fact that Muhammad was "a man of war."
"Jesus Christ came as a man of peace, and as a follower of Christ, I follow Him and I want to emulate Him," Graham said. "But the followers of Islam are emulating the prophet Muhammad, and that's what you're seeing carried out."
In his defense, Graham made it clear to Carlson that he's not intentionally bashing Muslims in general.
"I love Muslims and I want them to know what I know - that God loves them, that Jesus Christ died for their sins, that He rose from the grave, He can come into the heart, and they can have that hope of heaven and that hope of eternal life," Graham said.