The Rev. Jerry Vines told thousands of delegates at the convention's annual meeting last week in St. Louis that, despite what pluralists say, "Islam is not just as good as Christianity."
"Islam was founded by Mohammed, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives - and his last one was a 9-year-old girl," said Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla. "And I will tell you Allah is not Jehovah either. Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people."
The Rev. Jack Graham, the new president of the nation's largest Protestant denomination, has said his colleague's comments are accurate. "It's something that the president definitely disagrees with," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
Bush has taken pains to call Islam a religion of mercy and peace and to stress that the U.S.-led battle against on terrorism is not a war against Muslims. "Islam is a religion of peace, that's what the president believes," Fleischer said. In remarks to the convention a day after Vines' address last week, Bush praised the Baptists for being "among the earliest champions of religious tolerance."