Army Disinvites Graham to Pentagon Prayer Day

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The U.S. Army has rescinded an invitation to evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at the Pentagon on the National Day of Prayer.

Many are surprised and even outraged at the decision, and Christians are calling it another attack on religious freedom.

After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Graham called Islam "evil" and wrote that as a minister he believes it's his "responsibility to speak out against the terrible deeds that are committed as a result of Islamic teaching."

Those comments, however, upset military leaders.

Rev. Franklin Graham spoke with CBN News about the Army's decision.  Click play for his comments, following Jennifer Wishon's report.

"We're an all-inclusive military. We honor all faiths," Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins said. "Our message to our service and civilian work force is about the need for diversity and appreciation of all faiths."

But many Christians don't feel appreciated.

"What are they afraid that Franklin Graham is going to say?" Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes asked.

Forbes and others fear the U.S. military is using its might to stifle religious speech. Shirley Dobson, president of the National Day of Prayer, said the Pentagon "melted like butter."

"Enough is enough," she said in a statement. "We at the National Day of Prayer Task Force ask the American people to defend the right to pray in the Pentagon."

Two months ago, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins had a similar experience.

The ordained minister and Marine Corps veteran was invited to speak at a prayer lunch at Andrews Air Force Base, but his invitation was rescinded after he criticized President Obama's call to allow gays to serve openly in the military.

"I never thought... when I put on the uniform as a United States Marine, serve six years in serving this country, never gave thought to the fact that one day I would be denied to speak," Perkins said.

Congressman Forbes said this is a dangerous precedent to set.

"I can assure you of this -- If we're going to apply that rule, we're going to have a lot of people who are not allowed to speak on the floor of the House of Representatives because I am offended by what they say," he explained. "But you know, we don't want that. We want a marketplace of ideas."

Graham said he regrets the decision, but will continue to pray for the troops.

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