Evangelical leaders call for tempered speech on Islam

Yesterday, about 40 or 50 evangelical leaders got together to criticize evangelist Franklin Graham. Or so it would seem from media reports.

"Leading evangelical Christians for the first time have publicly condemned assaults on Islam by the Rev. Franklin Graham and other fellow religious conservatives and pledged to heal rifts with Muslims that threaten missionary work overseas," begins a widely circulating report from the Associated Press.

The Washington Post begins on a similar note, but adds a few names: "Evangelical Christian leaders from across the country called yesterday for fellow ministers such as Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson to stop making broad, inflammatory remarks about Islam."

And then there's this headline from the television station in San Diego, where Franklin Graham's father is preaching this week: "Billy Graham's son condemned by evangelical leaders: Franklin Graham rebuked for derogatory statements about Islam"

Weblog wasn't at the meeting, which was sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals and the Institute on Religion and Democracy, and a CT news story is still in process. However, judging from the news stories themselves, it seems that characterizing it as a meeting about Franklin Graham is spurious. None of the stories on the event quote anyone explicitly critical of Graham. Not one.

In fact, says Associated Press religion reporter Rachel Zoll, participants "avoided personally criticizing the religious leaders."

The meeting in fact was called to discuss and promote the IRD's "Guidelines on Christian-Muslim Dialogue." Graham, it should be noted, is an evangelist who engages in very little Christian-Muslim dialogue. Interfaith ...

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