Liberals on Twitter attacked prominent evangelist Franklin Graham after he asked his followers to pray that war between Russia and Ukraine would be avoided.

“Pray for President Putin today. This may sound like a strange request, but we need to pray that God would work in his heart so that war could be avoided at all cost,” Graham wrote. “May God give wisdom to the leaders involved in these talks & negotiations, as well as those advising them.”

The tweet was almost immediately met with vitriolic backlash from left-wing Twitter users who took the tweet out of context.

“Franklin Graham praying for Putin and not for Biden tells you all you need to know about Franklin Graham,” the left-wing USA singers tweeted in response

“Trump-loving evangelist Franklin Graham just told his followers: ‘Pray for President Putin today.’ Unreal,” Democratic activist and politician Jon Cooper tweeted.

“Franklin Graham asks his followers to pray for Putin. Guess he forgot about the Ukrainians and our NATO allies,” tweeted Scott Huffman, Democratic Candidate for North Carolina’s 10th Congressional District. “It’s almost like he supports the enemy who is about to declare war and kill people.”

Putin is our enemy, and your invisible sky daddy isn’t going to do anything to help anyone, Fake Christian #TaxTheChurches,” writer Tara Dublin tweeted.

 Putin is our enemy, and your invisible sky daddy isn’t going to do anything to help anyone, Fake Christian #TaxTheChurches https://t.co/uYCX0oCdx1

“WTF? So Franklin Graham is asking people to ‘Pray for President Putin today’ [after] Putin took Crimea from Ukraine & is poised to invade,” wrote one Twitter user. “Like praying for Hitler after he took Poland & poised to invade Belgium. Or praying for Hirohito after Pearl Harbor & poised to invade Malaya.”

“US ‘Christian’ Evangelist Franklin Graham asks that his supporters pray for President Putin today. Pray FOR the mass-murdering Dictator who has annexed Crimea & poised to invade more of Ukraine today? Pray for Putin? F*** you Franklin Graham!” the user added later.

Amidst the backlash, a number of users on both the Right and the Left jumped in to defend Graham from users who had misrepresented his comments.

“I’ve had my criticisms of Graham, but attacks on him here are off base. This is Putin’s war, if he chooses it, and praying that he would seek peace isn’t merely justifiable, I think it’s imperative. That’s what I’m praying,” The Dispatch senior editor and Atlantic contributor David French tweeted.

“I’m last one to defend Franklin Graham—I report on Christian nationalism—but taking his ‘pray for Putin’ post out of context replicates fascist misinformation. Graham asks followers to pray that God turn Putin from war. There’s enough nasty on the Right; no need to manufacture,” Vanity Fair contributing editor Jeff Sharlet put in.

“I don’t like this guy either but what he’s saying is to pray for God to change Putin’s heart so that he won’t attack Ukraine. It’s fine to dismiss that as a dumb plan but it’s dishonest to frame it as Graham telling people to pray for Putin’s success or something,” added actress Martha Kelly.

“Despite the leftwing response to this, Graham is right,” the Washington Examiner’s Jerry Dunleavy added. “This is Putin’s war, and since the U.S. & West have failed to take proper steps to deter him (Nord Stream 2 sanctions, sanctioning him for threatening to invade a sovereign neighbor, etc.) it may just be in God’s hands now.”

Russia has continued its aggression in Ukraine. The Daily Wire reported Friday that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had left the country for Germany, while an explosion rocked a gas pipeline in Ukraine. A U.S. official also told reporters Friday that as many as 190,000 Russian troops on the borders of Ukraine are assembled “in an attack position.”

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