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November 14th, 2012
03:41 PM ET

5 things we learned from Franklin Graham

By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors

Washington (CNN) – The Rev. Franklin Graham spends most of his time running an international aid group called Samaritan’s Purse. But he usually makes headlines for his political pronouncements.

Over the past year, Graham has attracted attention for his role placing newspaper ads in which his dad, the iconic Rev. Billy Graham, encouraged voters to support conservative values in the lead-up to Election Day. Franklin Graham is CEO and President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which in addition to financing the ads removed a reference to Mormonism as a cult from the group’s website. The move came as Franklin and Billy Graham met with Mitt Romney, who was campaigning to be the first Mormon president, shortly before Election Day.

The younger Graham stopped by CNN’s Washington bureau this week en route to New York, where he was checking in on Samaritan Purse’s Superstorm Sandy relief and promoting a Christmas campaign collecting gifts for poor children.

5 things we learned from his visit:

1. Graham rejects allegations that he is co-opting his ailing dad - who turned 94 last week - to voice support for conservative causes like opposing gay marriage.

Graham says that his dad would have never imagined current debates over the definition of marriage and about when life begins, which he explains is why the famously bipartisan Billy Graham has stepped up his conservative activism. Franklin Graham says it was his idea to run political newspaper ads before the election, but that his dad signed off on them. He says they traded several drafts of the full-page ads, which read as letters from Billy Graham, before they were published.

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“When the president accepted same sex marriage I felt that became kind of a moral crisis for our country,” Graham told us, referring to President Barack Obama’s endorsement of legalized same-sex marriage in May. “And that Christians should be reminded as to what we’re voting for. I presented this to my father, and he agreed that we ought to remind people to vote for biblical issues.”

2. Graham says his dad has always been political, and that Billy Graham’s activism last year was in sync with past behavior. “I’ve read some of the reports where they said my father avoided politics,” Graham said. “That’s not true. I mean, he’s known every president since Truman.”

Graham told a story about his father speaking at a 2000 news conference with George W. Bush in Jacksonville, Florida, on the Sunday before Election Day.  That year, after a protracted recount, Florida wound up determining the election’s outcome for Bush.

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“Now don’t you think that was worth some votes in Florida,” Graham asked, referring to his dad’s appearance with Bush. “I think it probably… changed the outcome of the race. So my father has been involved in politics at different levels over the years, and so for him to be involved in these ads is not out of character.”

3. Graham thinks America’s economic doldrums could be God’s way of sending a message about the nation’s growing secularization – and about what Graham sees as its increasing immorality.

“I don’t see our country turning to God,” he told us. “I see if anything the pride in the hearts of politicians [being] very big and very strong.”

“For them to admit that they made a mistake and to call up the name of Almighty God, it would take a major crisis in this country to do that, and maybe that’s what God will have to do,” Graham continued. “Maybe he will have to bring this country down economically before we will turn our hearts back to God, I don’t know.”

This scenario is related to Graham’s view of American exceptionalism, which revolves around the idea of a special relationship between God and the United States. “God has blessed the United States of America more than any other nation on this earth,” Graham said. “But we’ve turned our back on God as a nation and it’s sad, and I believe that his hand of blessing could slowly be removed from this country. We need to repent.”

4. Graham thinks preachers should speak out on social issues like abortion or gay marriage, but not on economic ones. “When it comes to the taxes - whether you should tax the wealthy more or the poor more, I’m not into that,” he said. “Let the politicians worry about that.”

5. Graham didn’t direct the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to remove its website’s reference to Mormonism as a cult shortly before Election Day. But he agrees with the move. “I didn’t even know it was there. We have like 10,000 pages on our website,” Graham told us.

Graham said the reference isn’t coming back to the site. “I don’t want to be involved in calling people names,” he told us. “I want to reach people for Christ, and how can I do that if I’m calling them a name? I don’t even like the word cult; it sounds like dungeons and dragons or something.”

What’s your take on Graham’s political views and how they grow out of his religious beliefs? Let us know in comments.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Billy Graham • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (813 Responses)
  1. AvdBerg

    For a better understanding of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and the spirit it serves (Luke 9:55) we invite you to read the articles on the BGEA and 'False Apostles and False Christs' listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Friendship of the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). The Graham's are in truth enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18). They serve after the god of this world (Gal. 4:8), an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15).

    For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world, including politics (1 John 5:4).

    Christ did not pray for this world (including social issues), and neither did the apostles or do the believers (John 17:9,16).

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    November 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Glen Stephen

      There has been a definite and clear falling away from biblical guidelines. What the Graham organizaton has done is to legitimize mormonism. Sad indeed!

      November 18, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  2. dinaknibbs

    stay out of politics, Graham.

    November 17, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • sunny

      When politics and religion collide then religion should pay taxes like other businesses ...

      November 18, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  3. Stephen

    To the Graham ministries: Focus on evangelism! God used Billy Graham very powerfully in this way. Do not change this primary focus! Jesus did NOT focus on the politics of his day! His focus was always eternal matters. All that we see around us is passing away. Keep the focus on preaching the gospel. We need to receive Christ as our Lord and Savior to be forgiven of our sins and have peace with God and eternal life. amen

    November 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Mathew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God!"

      Luke 17:21, "The kingdom of God is inside you!"

      John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world!"

      1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"

      If one does "literally believe" the above four verses of KJVB scripture you will then slowly begin to understand the Truth in God's Word!

      November 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • sam stone

      Stephen: Seriously, you desire eternal life?

      Why would you want to live forever?

      November 19, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  4. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Graham and his father should first apologize for ripping off their "non-profits" with their combined salaries of $1.2+ million/yr.

    And they have the audacity to call themselves Christians !!!!!

    An update:

    http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2009/10/franklin_graham_moves_to_addre.html

    "CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Concerns about his rising financial compensation during tough economic times have prompted evangelist Franklin Graham to temporarily give up future contributions to his retirement plans at the two Christian charities he leads.

    As president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, he receives two full-time salaries and two retirement packages. Last year his total compensation from the two Christian ministries was $1.2 million.
    The size of Graham's total 2008 compensation – $535,000 from Samaritan's Purse and $669,000 from Charlotte, N.C.-based BGEA – drew questions from nonprofit experts. They doubted that one person – even the energetic, globe-trotting Graham – can do two full-time jobs when those positions are head of organizations that employ hundreds and spend hundreds of millions around the world. "

    November 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  5. John the Historian

    Franklin doesn't mention that President Truman called his father a counterfeit and kicked him out of the White House.

    November 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  6. John the Historian

    I wonder if Baptists now will still consider mormon cult followers as Christians. When Billy Graham dies will he go to the planet of kolob and become a God. Wiill he get to meet rapists Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Does he now believe Jesus Christ preached to the American-Indians and that they are descendants of Jews. Does Billy Graham believe Jesus Christ was a polygamist. Most Christian groups need to disband and join mainstream churches. The Baptist Calvinist tradition is false. Obviously predesdination is wrong. We have choice.

    November 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 17, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "Digusted with this..." degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
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      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian.

      November 17, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.-`

      November 17, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • truth be told

      @troll alert
      This is the United States if America, all our citizens are enti tled to freedom of speech. If you disagree that is your right but it is not your right to falsely interpret, harass or police these blogs. Your continued harassment is a violation of the policy you yourself appear to oppose. That makes you not only a liar but a hypocrite as well.

      November 17, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "Digusted with this..." degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to;
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian.

      November 17, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Translation of truth be mold's post: "I'ma tell on you!"

      November 17, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Huebert

      tbt

      We do have freedom of speech here. We are perfectly free to encourage everyone to ignore you :).

      November 17, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • truth be told

      @huebert
      Ignoring, more correctly ignorance is about the only virtue you ever display.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  8. AvdBerg

    Make sure to visit our website http://www.gaychristians101.com

    November 17, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not even if you paid me good cash money, you fraud. Get off and stop using a free service to promote yourself.

      November 17, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • .

      Tom it's a little early to be drinking already.

      November 17, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  9. Stan

    Franklin is a con man just like his dad. He's great at fleecing money from stupid sheeple. The apple didn't far fall from the tree this time.

    November 17, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  10. AvdBerg

    For a better understanding of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and the spirit it serves (Luke 9:55) we invite you to read the articles on the BGEA and 'False Apostles and False Christs' listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Friendship of the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). The Graham's are in truth enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18). They serve after the god of this world (Gal. 4:8) an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15).

    For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world, especially politics (1 John 5:4).

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    November 17, 2012 at 5:59 am |
    • Stan

      Click 'Report abuse' on all avdberg spam.

      November 17, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • TROLL ALERT

      AvdBerg is a well known troll and liar on this blog. They are only here to sell their book and website to support their cult. Click the report abuse link to get rid of this troll.

      November 17, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • truth be told

      @troll alert
      You are not the blog police. In America we have freedom of speech, you may not like what the person has to say but you have no right to suppress it. Discuss it or let it be, but no one has appointed you to judge content. Leave honest citizens alone.

      November 17, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "Digusted with this..." degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to;
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian.

      November 17, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  11. JEAN

    WHERE IS HE WHEN THE GOP HAS BEEN SPEWING HATEFUL THINGS ABOUT THE PRESIDENT." HE SHOULD BE ASSSASINATED, HIM HANGING BY A NOOSE AT A SERVICE STATION IN JACKSONVILLE FLORIDA, THE "N" WORD BEING USED LOOSELY, JUST TO NAME A FEW.THEY DIDN'T BOTHER TO MENTION THAT GOD IS NOT PLEASED WITH THAT EITHER.. BUT I GUESS THEY THINK IT'S ACCORDING TO WHOM IS SAYING IT. NOT TRUE.WE ARE ALL GOING TO HAVE TO ANSWER FOR OUR SHOT COMINGS. RICH OR POOR. BLACK OR WHITE. I'M GLAD THAT MAN WILL NOT HAVE THE LAST WORD ON THAT.

    November 17, 2012 at 3:05 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      There is no god Jean. You are just spouting a mentally ill point of view that you have been brainwashed with since your childhood. Get help

      November 17, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Stan

      Posting frantically in all caps is a sign of insanity.

      November 17, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Your capslock key is broken.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  12. MAtes

    Thank you Sue for the info I looked up Billy Graham Bio and read up on it. You speak the Truth. What I don't understand is why Billy Graham would not endorse Kennedy because he was a Catholic. But endorse Romney who is a Mormon and not a Christian.

    November 17, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • I wonder

      Maybe partly because the player here, little Franklin, was only about 8 years old when Kennedy ran for president.

      November 17, 2012 at 3:18 am |
    • m30johnson80

      You're going to have to use a little more logic there. The comment about a Graham endorsing Kennedy was referring to Billy Graham, not Franklin.

      November 17, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • sqeptiq

      m30, you're being a bit obtuse. The point was that Franklin wasn't around in 1960 to manipulate his senile dad.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  13. myles

    Typical hypocrisy by the far right. Mormonism was a cult until the Republican nominee turned out to be a Mormon. Now that he has lost, do the Mormons return to the cult list?

    November 17, 2012 at 1:52 am |
  14. MAtes

    Franklin Graham stated that his father Billy Graham had a political voice expressing Christian views on American politics. I wander how loud was Billy Graham's or Franklin Graham's voice was when it came to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's.

    November 17, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  15. Maurice

    Franklin Graham stated that his father Billy Graham has always had a political voice when advocating Christian views on American politics. I wander how loud was Billy Graham's or Franklin Graham's voice was when it came to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's.

    November 17, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Sue

      Actually, Billy started preaching against segregation in the 50s, which was after the Civil Rights movement began and he wasn't real consistent with it for a while, but he did end up on the right side of things early enough.

      November 17, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Sue

      Of course, during the 60s Billy did rally fellow protestant pastors to oppose Kennedy's election because he was a Catholic, and there were those nasty Nixon tapes.

      November 17, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  16. JDonald

    If it was votes generated by Billy Graham that pushed Bush over the wire to win the presidency in 2000, I guess his ministry should take some responsibility for the killing of over 500,000 Iraqis and 100,000 Afghanastanis, the decimation of the infrastucture of Iraq and the continued support of Israel's overrun and occupation of the Palestinian lands (as defined by the UN). If the Old Testament story is the definition of the boundaries that he thinks Israel should have today, he commits the USA to a continuous war against Arab nations for the forseeable future. Franklin Graham is a dangerous man, not a man of the peace that Jesus taught.

    November 17, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  17. Jack

    Idiot !

    November 16, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  18. Leroy

    Sad that liberals have taken over our schools and colleges. They brainwash our children and young adults into thinking if it feels good – do it, Abortion is a woman's "right" and being gay is a "normal" lifestyle choice. Then they wonder why our education level slips lower every year and our prison systems are full of kids from broken, messed up families...

    November 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • End Religion

      Bad, bad, Leroy, liberals are on the right track. Yeah for Liberals. Leboo for Leroy. Everything you said was correct except the opposite.

      November 17, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Sue

      Leroy
      Sad that conservatives brainwash children and young adults into thinking if it feels good for someone else – forbid it.

      November 17, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • sam stone

      leroy: being gay (or straight) is not a choice

      abortion is a woman's right, according to the law of the land

      November 17, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Simran

      The Bible never specifically mentions abortion. This is significant, because herbal abortifacients–most notably pennyroyal and silphium–were in common use at the time that the New Testament was written. Jesus, Paul, and the other major figures of the New Testament were surrounded by cultures that practiced abortion, but no specific condemnation of the practice can be found in the Bible.

      Likewise, Exodus 21 draws a clear demarcation between the killing of a person and the killing of a fetus. Exodus 21:12, for example, reads:
      Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death. If it was not premeditated, but came about by an act of God, then I will appoint for you a place to which the killer may flee.
      But Exodus 21:22 reads:
      When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman's husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine.
      In other words: Killing a person outside of the womb warrants the death penalty or exile, but killing a fetus is punishable only by a fine–and that's in a circ.umstance where the killing of a fetus takes place against the woman's will. Exodus describes no penalty of any kind for women who choose to terminate their own pregnancies, nor does any other passage in the Bible.

      But the Bible certainly suggests that human life begins prior to birth. While Rebekah is pregnant with the twins Esau and Jacob, for example, Genesis 25:22 states that "the children struggled together within her." Likewise, when Elizabeth (pregnant with John the Baptist) meets the Virgin Mary, "the child leaped in her womb" (Luke 1:41). One of the most frequently cited passages in the abortion debate is Psalm 139:13, which addresses God with the statement that "you knit me together in my mother's womb."

      So the Bible's position on abortion, like its position on so many other issues, can be described as extremely ambiguous. It treats the death of a fetus as a non-homicide and makes no attempt to punish women who have abortions, nor does it mention the widely-practiced abortion that was contemporaneous to the period during which the relevant texts were written.

      November 17, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Leroy, when was the last time you visited a school? You don't seem to have the first clue as to what goes on in one. Did you drop out in your sopho more year of high school?

      November 17, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Tell us what it was like living in the womb and about the moment you decided to be hetero. Then I will believe your assertions.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  19. ace

    This was a fair interview by CNN. Much better than the hatchet job one MSNBC had with Franklin Graham. They were asking him pressing political questions like he was running for office and I thought they were extremely rude.

    November 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  20. GOOD NEWS

    the TRUE MESSAGE of Jesus Christ is thus here now:

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    November 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • End Religion

      what makes this "true" message any more true than any of the other millions of claims to be the one and only true truth?

      November 17, 2012 at 12:44 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.