Baptist Minister Challenges Franklin Graham Over Donald Trump Refugee Policy

Donald Trump with US evangelist Franklin Graham.(Facebook/Franklin Graham)

A Baptist minister has challenged support for Christian humanitarian charity Samaritan's Purse, because its chief executive Franklin Graham defended US President Donald Trump's refugee policy.

Many Christian leaders have strongly criticised Trump's actions. But last week Graham, the outspoken son of celebrated preacher Billy Graham, said Trump's restriction on Syrian refugees entering the US was "not a Bible issue".

In response Mark Wingfield, the associate pastor at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, described Graham as a "twisted Christian witness". His church has previously got into trouble with other Baptists for voting to allow gay marriage ceremonies.

Wingfield argued that the command in Deuteronomy 10 to "love the stranger" is Biblical justification for taking in Syrian refugees.

"As a result of this policy, people will die," he wrote for Baptist News Global. "Immigrants who need to flee horrendous situations will be trapped and will die. And then others will die because America's protectionism will breed more terrorism and more hatred. How in God's name is any of that biblical?"

Franklin Graham has openly supported President Trump, most recently defending the order banning refugees from certain areas of the Middle East. "It's not a biblical command for the country to let everyone in who wants to come, that's not a Bible issue," he told the Huffington Post. "We want to love people, we want to be kind to people, we want to be considerate, but we have a country and a country should have order and there are laws that relate to immigration and I think we should follow those laws. Because of the dangers we see today in this world, we need to be very careful."

Samaritan's Purse provides a range of humanitarian aid around the world, and also runs the "Operation Christmas Child" program, which sends shoeboxes of presents to children for Christmas. Graham is the charity's CEO and President.

Wingfield wrote: "Do you really want to send a dose of hatred along with that shoebox of Christmas trinkets? Does handing out Christmas gifts counterbalance Graham's declaration that many of those who receive them would not be welcome in America?

"If you are outraged by Franklin Graham's misrepresentation of Christian doctrine, channel your support somewhere else, like World Vision or any of the reputable denomination-based relief agencies."

Graham is no stranger to controversy, and has regularly been criticised for his opinions, particularly regarding Islam, which he has described as a "very wicked and evil religion". Graham says it is incompatible with American values: "True Islam cannot be practised in this country. You can't beat your wife. You cannot murder your children if you think they've committed adultery or something like that, which they do practice in these other countries," he once told CNN. "I don't agree with the teachings of Islam and I find it to be a very violent religion."

He was described as "notoriously Islamophobic" by Islamic pressure group CAIR, who successfully lobbied for him to be excluded from Trump's inauguration ceremony.

Trump has divided Christians, receiving support from charismatic pastors Paula White, Bill Johnson and others but condemnation from voices as diverse as conservative pastor John Piper, and liberal writer Rachel Held Evans. Other members of Graham's family have strongly disagreed with Franklin and spoken out against Trump.