An Open Letter to Franklin Graham

Dear Rev. Franklin Graham, This open letter is meant to address my concern with your comments on Muslim refugees over the past few years, and especially your recent statements to the Huffington Post regarding President Trump’s executive order suspending refugee resettlement. However, I would like to begin by sincerely thanking you for your leadership of Samaritan’s Purse and the work you are doing to alleviate the suffering of many and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. Though you have been criticized for your statements about Muslim refugees you are in fact doing far more to address the plight of refugees overseas than most of your critics. Samaritan’s Purse does excellent work, not only in Europe with refugees and asylum seekers, but also in South Sudan and Iraq, with individuals from the specific countries included in the immigration ban.

Though you have questioned the refugee resettlement program, specifically the resettlement of Muslim refugees, you have offered some alternatives. For example, in 2015 you urged President Obama to establish safe zones in Syria. Tragically, the Obama administration failed to heed your advice, and as a result thousands of Syrian lives have been lost and hundreds of thousands more have fled their homes. I hope you will continue to urge this new administration to protect the innocent in Syria by establishing safe zones, especially since President Trump’s recent executive order included a brief clause alluding to such measures.

My intention in writing this letter is to address the following concern. Your statements against resettling Muslim refugees in the US and your indiscriminate support of President Trump’s executive order consistently prioritize the safety of the American people over the proclamation of the gospel.

In September 2015 you wrote, “We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled. Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized--and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad.”

In your interview with the Huffington Post last week you spoke about a field hospital run by Samaritan’s Purse in Mosul, Iraq saying, “A lot of our patients are women and children who have been shot in the back as they’re fleeing ISIS, I’ve seen this first hand. We need to know who we’re letting in this country.”

These statements communicate an unrealistic fear of Muslim refugees, as a result of terrorist attacks perpetrated by radical Islamists. While understandable, such fear hinders our ability to obey the Great Commission Christ gave us to preach the gospel to all nations. In 2016 approximately 90,000 Christians were martyred for their faith in Jesus and their unwavering belief that the gospel was more important than their very lives. 2 Timothy 1:7 says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” for the exact purpose of living in obedient faith rather than fear.

Jesus himself said, “whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Your dedication to the work of Samaritan’s Purse tells me that you believe these words of Scripture, and yet in this issue you have allowed your fear to impede your ministry. While you may still be preaching the gospel in other arenas of your life, your position on this issue has confused many who rely on your leadership. You have said over and over again that God has been removed from American society, but on the issue of Muslim refugee resettlement you, Rev. Graham, have led many to remove the gospel from their politics.  

Instead of using your platform as an influential Evangelical leader to stoke fear of Muslim refugees and immigrants in the hearts of American Christians, I urge you to use your influence to promote true and intentional gospel living. Many American Christians will never have the opportunity to distribute food to refugees arriving in Greece, or to nurse children injured by landmines in Iraq. However, they do have the opportunity to welcome refugees into their communities and to share the gospel with those among them who are not Christians. Spreading a message of fear can only hinder the ministry that you and your family have worked so hard to advance. If you continue to prioritize the safety of Americans over the salvation of refugees, many Christians will miss an opportunity to share the gospel with those in dire need.

Sincerely in Christ, Tabitha McDuffee