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Pentagon kicks Islam-bashing preacher to curb

| Friday, May 7, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Evangelist Franklin Graham prayed on a sidewalk outside the Pentagon on Thursday after his invitation to a prayer service inside was withdrawn because of comments that insulted Muslims.

"It looks like Islam has gotten a pass," he told reporters. "They are able to have their services, but just because I disagree ... I'm excluded."

In 2001, Graham, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, described Islam as evil. More recently, he said he finds Islam offensive and wants Muslims to know that Jesus Christ died for their sins. The Pentagon's chaplain office called those comments inappropriate and, at the request of the Army, withdrew Graham's invitation to attend a multi-denominational "National Day of Prayer" service that was held in the Defense Department auditorium.

He came anyway, arriving in the Pentagon parking lot just before 8 a.m. -- his party of a half dozen people praying on the sidewalk.

Graham said he came to pray for the men and women serving at the warfront, including his son, who he said had been wounded in Iraq and now serves in Afghanistan.

Graham said many American Christians "feel we are losing our freedoms while people of other faiths are gaining their freedom. It's a perception, whether it's right or wrong."

While Graham spoke outside, about 80 people attended a service inside the Pentagon that included Roman Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Protestant chaplains.

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