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Kingston Calls for Hearings on Prayer Day Debacle

By Dan Weil   |   Tuesday, 27 Apr 2010 01:38 PM

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., has called for congressional hearings over the military’s decision in recent weeks to rescind invitations for two conservative Christian leaders to speak at military prayer events: Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins.

“I think that we need to have some hearings, because this seems to be something that the military is spending some energy on and we need to raise the visibility on it,” Kingston told CNSNews.com.

Last week, the Army “disinvited” Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham, to speak at the Pentagon on the National Day of Prayer, May 6, after a military advocacy group protested that Graham had called Islam “evil” and “wicked” after the 9/11 carnage.

Editor's Note: Read "Pentagon Widens Christian Ban; Graham Says It’s Anti-Religion"

In February, the chaplain’s office at Andrews Air Force Base “disinvited” Family Research Council President Perkins from attending a national prayer event at the base, because Perkins disagrees with President Obama’s desire to repeal the military policy on homosexuality.

Kingston says both actions smack of political correctness.

“I am concerned about it,” he said.

“It shows that the Pentagon is using a systematic practice of weeding out preachers and leaders of the clergy who are willing to give biblically-based messages and sermons which might ruffle some feathers in the diplomatic circles in which they are very concerned.”

The Pentagon’s move on Graham was prompted by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group started by former Air Force officer Michael Weinstein to campaign for a completely secular military.

Graham said he “regretted that the Army felt its decision was necessary.”

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin defended Graham over the weekend.

“It’s truly a sad day when such a fine patriotic man, whose son is serving on his fourth deployment in Afghanistan to protect our freedom of speech and religion, is disinvited from speaking at the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer service,” she wrote on Facebook.

“His comments in 2001 were aimed at those who are so radical that they would kill innocent people and subjugate women in the name of religion. Are we really so hyper-politically correct that we can’t abide a Christian minister who expresses his views on matters of faith?”

Graham spoke to Obama about his cancelled invitation, when the president paid a courtesy call to his father.

“I wanted to make him aware of that,” Franklin Graham told The Associated Press. “He said he would look into it.”

The Pentagon's decision to disinvite not only Graham, but also the National Day of Prayer task force led by author Shirley Dobson, the wife of influential Focus on the Family founder Dr. James C. Dobson, suggests the Pentagon's rejection of Christian leaders is much broader than previously recognized.

On Monday, evangelist Pat Robertson, the 700 Club founder, came to Franklin Graham's defense on his program, calling him "very courageous."

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