The Bush administration is well aware that the Muslim world regards the liberation of Iraq as a war on Islam. Someone within the administration needs to convince the president that allowing evangelists into Iraq to push Christianity as well as humanitarian aid on a divided and defeated Muslim population will only deepen this conviction. This is one faith-based initiative the government cannot afford to support.
So far, the only comment from the White House has come from press spokeman Ari Fleischer, who said the government has no control over privately funded religious charities like Samaritan’s Purse, the agency headed by Franklin Graham, Billy’s son and Bush family friend. Graham is particularly toxic to Muslims because he has publicly branded Islam “a very evil and wicked religion.” So is evangelist-broadcaster Pat Robertson, founder of Operation Breadbasket, who has labeled Muhammad “an absolute wild-eyed fanatic.” Last summer the Reverend Jerry Vines, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has an army of some five thousand missionaries operating overseas, many of them poised to enter Iraq, damned the Prophet Muhammad as a “demon-possessed pedophile”-a capital offense in many Islamic countries. Even before the war, the Arab press cited these and other American evangelists as proof that the United States intends a Christian crusade against Muslims.