The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, and Samaritan's Purse, run by the Rev. Franklin Graham, said they are ready to provide emergency shelter, food aid and medical care to Iraq's mostly Muslim population. The announcements raised concerns among U.S. Muslim leaders that the groups intend to proselytize in Iraq.
Graham, the son of the Rev. Billy Graham, has called Islam an "evil" and "wicked" religion that foments violence.
"I think it's a colossally bad move to have a group whose leader says Islam is 'evil' follow in the wake of U.S. troops in Iraq," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group in Washington. "It would seem to confirm every suspicion in the Muslim world that the war on Iraq and the war on terrorism are really a war on Islam."
The spokesman for the Southern Baptists said:
"People who think about Christian missionaries in terms of persuading people to change their religion simply do not understand the Christian faith. It's not about religion; it's about a relationship with God."
The Iraqis already have a relationship with God. In fact, it is the same God we like. So why don't they do like the Methodists and funnel their aid through "established groups that do no evangelizing."
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