Franklin Graham has clarified his stance on President Donald Trump's executive order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries considered hotbeds of terrorism and said that Americans need to "support the president" when there are "danger signs."
In an exclusive interview with The Gospel Herald, the 64-year-old president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the aid organization Samaritan's Purse shared his thoughts on the controversial order, which affects countries the Trump administration deems high-risk, including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia.
"This isn't a ban, it's a temporary halt from seven countries - countries where terrorists are well-organized and might use our liberal immigration policy to sneak people into this country that could kill hundreds of Americans," Graham said.
The evangelist explained that he is not opposed to people coming to the United States, as it is a "nation of immigrants." However, because the president's primary responsibility is to protect the country, he must take extreme measures in order to prevent terrorist attacks from foreign nationals.
"When there are danger signs out there, I think we have to support the president. His job is to protect America. I don't read the intelligence he reads, he sees things that are not privy for public view. He made this decision based on intelligence he'd gotten and I just have to believe that he's made the right decision," Graham said.
"Again, it's a temporary halt just for a couple of months until we can come up with a better way to look at people coming into this country from those particular, very dangerous countries," he added.
Trump's January 27 order, which barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days and gave priority to "religious minorities" when applying for refugee status, was blocked by the courts. However, Trump's revised immigration order, which he said could come sometime this week, reportedly targets the same seven countries listed in the original order and exempts travelers who already have a visa to travel to the U.S.
The immigration order has been widely criticized by a number of evangelical leaders, who say it flies in the face of the Biblical command to "love thy neighbor" and warn it may actually hurt - and not help - Christians persecuted in the Middle East.
But Billy Graham's son, who in the past has said Trump's attempt to protect America from harm is "not a Bible issue," told GH that there is a difference between showing love and putting lives at risk. In fact, Samaritan's Purse, which provides relief to victims of war, poverty, and persecution in over 100 countries, doesn't discriminate when it comes to helping those in need.
Graham revealed that Samaritan's Purse, which last month opened a field hospital just outside of Mosul, Iraq, has not only helped save the lives of innocent civilians affected by the war, but ISIS fighters as well.
"Samaritan's Purse has the only hospital in all of northern Iraq. We have a lot of women and children who have been shot in the back by ISIS as they're fleeing, but we also have ISIS soldiers that are brought to us by the government. We treat everyone the same," he said.
Graham concluded: "It gives us an opportunity to bind the wounds and share our faith in a setting that we may not be able to duplicate later on. When someone has been beaten and left along life's road, we have a great opportunity to take advantage of that moment to share our faith in Jesus Christ."