While United States officials have angrily condemned airstrikes launched by Russia in Syria, prominent evangelist Franklin Graham argues that some good may actually come out of it.
"What Russia is doing may save the lives of Christians in the Middle East," Graham, who is the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse said during a recent appearance on Newsmax TV. "You understand that the Syrian government for their good and for their bad over the history of this country, they have protected Christians, they have protected minorities from the Islamists."
Russia entered into the Syrian conflict on Wednesday with a bombing attack on Syrian opposition fighters. The U.S. has slammed the move, expressing fears that Russia's President Vladimir Putin may be using their shared goal of defeating the Islamic State as a "pretext for weakening other opponents of Syria's embattled president, Bashar al-Assad," the New York Times notes.
While Putin has argued that Assad is a strong defense against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, U.S. President Obama says that Assad's government must be brought down.
However, in continuing his comments to Newsmax, Graham suggested that should the U.S. succeed in toppling the government of Syria and its other institutions, there would be "a bloodbath of Christians."
"There were would be tens of thousands of Christians murdered and slaughtered and on top of that, you would have hundreds of thousands of more refugees pouring into Europe. So Russia right now, I see their presence as helping to save the lives of Christians," he said.
Although Russia has denied such claims, opposition groups said Wednesday's attacks had killed more than 30 civilians, according to BBC. Speaking to Newsmax, Graham said he blames the Obama administration's lack of leadership for the casualties.
"If you look at ISIS, ISIS came about because of the failed leadership of President Obama. His generals told him not to pull the US troops out of Iraq. He did it anyway," Graham said. "The government of Iraq began to marginalise the Sunnis. So when the Sunnis saw that they didn't have a seat at the table anymore, ISIS was formed and they joined with the ISIS inside of Syria."
Graham, who is the son of prominent evangelist Billy Graham, also criticized Obama for being more invested in promoting the agenda of the LGBT community than he is in protecting the thousands of Christians persecuted in the Middle East.
"I'm not here to bash the gays and lesbians and they certainly have rights and I understand all of that, but this administration has been more focused on that agenda than anything else," he contended. "As a result, the Middle East is burning and you have more refugees moving today since World War II. It could have been prevented."