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Franklin Graham preaches at the Defense Department
As criticism continues of plans by Samaritan's Purse and the Southern Baptist Convention to meet both physical and spiritual needs in post-war Iraq, a new controversy has developed over Franklin Graham's invitation to deliver the Good Friday homily at the Defense Department.

The Pentagon chaplain's office has received protest letters and held meetings with a small group of Muslim Defense Department staffers who hope to stop the Samaritan's Purse president's visit. Controversy over Graham's public comments about Islam has led Pentagon Muslims to ask he be replaced with "a more inclusive and honorable Christian clergyman." Other Muslim leaders have said that this move by the U.S. government sends the wrong message to the Muslim community worldwide.

Pentagon spokeswoman Martha Rudd said this week that the invitation would stand. "The chaplain's office here, just like at any Army installation, regularly assists groups of various faiths to hold their services," Rudd told The Washington Post. "If a Jewish group wants to invite a particular speaker, they'll do that. Muslims hold services here, too. The Army chaplains are absolutely nonjudgmental of any faith that soldiers want to follow."

Samaritan's Purse told reporters that Graham's appearance will go on but has not formally responded to the issue online.

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Muslims Protest Franklin Graham's Pentagon Invite
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April 2003

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