Franklin Graham Says 'Christians Are Being Bullied into Silence' after Group Calls for Air Force General to Be Court-Martialed for Speaking about God

May 19, 2015 03:19 PM EDT

Franklin Graham has asserted the Christians are being "bullied" into silence after a civil liberties group called for an Air Force general to be court-martialed because he spoke about how God has guided his career.

The Air Force Times reports that in a speech at a National Day of Prayer Task Force event on May 7, Maj. Gen. Craig Olson thanked God for his accomplishments in the military, and called himself a "redeemed believer in Christ." However, in response, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has called for the the two-star general to be court-martialed and "aggressively and very visibly brought to justice for his unforgivable crimes and transgressions."

In a recent Facebook post, Rev. Franklin Graham, who is the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, expressed his outrage over the incident.

"Are Christians the only group of people who cannot identify themselves publicly in this country? Are we the only voices who cannot speak?" he asked in a recent Facebook post. "The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is calling for the court martial--yes, court martial--of Maj. Gen. Craig Olson for calling himself "a redeemed believer in Christ" and giving God the glory for his success at a National Day of Prayer event. I guess this group would've tried to court martial George Washington when he prayed at Valley Forge! Come on--Whose civil liberties are really being infringed on here? They want to bully Christians into silence."

WND reports that Olson is program executive officer for C3I and Networks at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, where he is responsible for more than 2,200 personnel. His speech was live-streamed and recorded by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

During Olson's 23-minute talk, the Air Force Times reports, Olson spoke of "flying complex aircraft; doing complex nuclear missions - I have no ability to do that. God enabled me to do that."

"He put me in charge of failing programs worth billions of dollars," Olson said. "I have no ability to do that, no training to do that. God did that. He sent me to Iraq to negotiate foreign military sales deals through an Arabic interpreter. I have no ability to do that. I was not trained to do that. God did all of that."

At the end of his speech, Olson asked those in attendance to pray for Defense Department leaders and troops preparing to be deployed.

The Daily Mail reports that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has argued that Olson's speech violates rules within the Air Force, which prohibits airmen from endorsing a particular faith or belief.

A letter written to Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Walsh and posted on the group's website, begins, "This demand letter is sent to you on behalf of countless members of the United States Air Force who are utterly disgusted and shocked by the brazenly illicit and wholly unconstitutional, fundamentalist Christian proselytizing recently perpetrated, on international television ("GOD TV"), and streaming all over the Internet and in full military uniform, by USAF Major General Craig S. Olson on Thursday, May 7, 2015 during a VERY public speech for a private Christian organization (The "National Day of Prayer Task Force": NDPTF) headed up by Focus on the Family founder, Dr. James Dobson's, wife Shirley Dobson. "

The group also argues that other service members who helped Olson to be investigated and punished "to the full extent of military law."

The letter continues, "Olson's highly publicized, sectarian speech is nothing less than a brutal disgrace to the very uniform he was wearing and the solemn oath he took to support and defend the United States Constitution. This public address was his, and the USAF's, 'contribution' to this scathingly sectarian 2015 version of the [task force's] annual shame spectacle and display of Christian supremacy and exceptionalism held in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill."