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Quiet National Prayer Day Despite Controversy

Rev. Franklin Graham speaks with reporters after praying in the Pentagon parking lot, Thursday, May 6, 2010. Cliff Owen/AP Photo hide caption

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Cliff Owen/AP Photo

Rev. Franklin Graham speaks with reporters after praying in the Pentagon parking lot, Thursday, May 6, 2010.

Cliff Owen/AP Photo

For all the controversy leading up to it, the National Day of Prayer appears to be passing fairly quietly. Which is maybe what you'd expect for a day of national prayer and contemplation.

In fact, except for those for whom it has meaning, it's probably going by unnoticed for many people.

Franklin Graham was certainly all over it. An evangelist like his father Billy Graham, appeared at the Pentagon Thursday morning, according to reports.

The younger Graham was recently disinvited from taking part in an ecumenical Pentagon prayer service because of his critical views on Islam. He has lambasted Islam, for instance, for the treatment of women by many adherents, among other reasons.

So Graham held a prayer service and news conference outside the Pentagon.

From the Associated Press:

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

They stood there for about five minutes, heads bowed, as people arriving for work passed by - a man with a briefcase, one on a bike, a woman carrying breakfast pastry in a bag and another man carrying a skateboard.

Then the group walked to the Pentagon's Sept. 11 memorial roughly a couple of hundred feet away, where media had gathered because it's one of the few places were cameras are allowed on the Pentagon property. There, Graham held a news conference that lasted nearly twice as long as the prayer.

Asked why he had come, Graham said it was to pray for the men and women serving at the warfront, including his son, who he said had already been wounded in Iraq and now serves in Afghanistan.

He said he doesn't believe "all religions are equal" and that there is only "one way to God" - and that is through Jesus.

Asked if he still believes Islam is evil, he said: "I believe the way they treat women is evil, yes I do." And, can he understand how some of his comments would be offensive to Muslims?

"Oh, I'm sure," he said. "But I find what they teach and what they preach and what's on the Internet - I find that to be offensive, too."

Another moment in the news conference, he said people shouldn't be offended because it's simply a disagreement in what people believe.

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."

A federal judge recently ruled that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to sanction an NDOP because it violates the "separation clause." The Obama Administration announced that it would appeal that decision.

By law, the president is required to proclaim the first Thursday of May a NDOP which. The NDOP has been on the books since 1952.