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Franklin Graham’s Thanksgiving message: Pray for Obama
November 21st, 2012
12:11 PM ET

Franklin Graham’s Thanksgiving message: Pray for Obama

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – With the world facing “perilous times” and “anxiety stemming from economic challenges,” evangelical leader Franklin Graham is asking congregations to pray for President Barack Obama, even though Graham endorsed the president’s opponent in the 2012 election.

“Having just come through a divisive national election, I am urging pastors across this country to lead their congregations in praying daily for our president, Barack Obama …  for wisdom, Divine guidance, and that God would accomplish His will and purposes,” Graham said in a statement. “While politics is noticeably partisan, prayer must never be partisan. Americans need to come together, and people of faith should lead the way, by praying diligently for our leaders whether or not they agree with them or their policies.”

Graham the president and CEO of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is the son of Billy Graham, the famed evangelist with many political ties. The elder Graham has met and prayed with every president since Harry Truman.

Though Franklin Graham decries political partisanship in his statement, he endorsed Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

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After meeting with Romney at the elder Graham’s home in Montreat, North Carolina, Franklin Graham gave a full-throated endorsement of Romney in a USA Today opinion piece.  Billy Graham appeared in full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other newspapers, calling on voters to cast a ballot for their faith.

"As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last,” reads the ad, which features Graham prominently. "I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God."

Many saw the ad as an endorsement of Romney due to its timing, but Franklin Graham insists the ad was not a formal endorsement of Romney, rather an endorsement of biblical values.

During an editorial meeting last week with CNN, Franklin Graham made the case that America was at a crossroads, especially economically. In the meeting, Graham said he 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.

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Graham’s view is connected to his 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.”

Graham made the same sort of economic message in his call to prayer.

“When we look at the moral and economic decline of our nation and the international threats before us, it should be clear that we cannot solve these monumental problems without the help of Almighty God,” he said. “Our future may very well depend on our prayers.”

– CNN’s Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Billy Graham • Evangelical • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (1,158 Responses)
  1. On streetwise

    "Billy Graham appeared in full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other newspapers, calling on voters to cast a ballot for their faith."

    Well, both claim that is a man of faith running for the office of president... One is a confirmend Christian and the other is a member (Mormom) to LDS Church. When the elder and son Graham both endorse a clut it comes down to a racist bigot decition, period. Sorry, I'm a christiian also, but I think there's no if's, questions, buts, their voiting their wealth, biasses and color not their value or faith.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  2. Scott

    Regardless of how we feel about President Obama, we are asked to pray for our leader in the Holy Bible. No person is put in place of such power without God wanting it to happen in any country. He is in control and all are in power for a reason. It's all in Scripture. You may not like him but show respect because God's blessing on Obama means that the rest of us will having His blessings also. It all falls down hill folks!

    November 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Scholar

      Sounds analogous to the trickle-down theory of business creation of the GOP. Make the wealthy wealthier and their wealth will trickle down to create more jobs for the masses. Right.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Colin

      Praying hey? Isn't that where you think silent thoughts like "please God help me pass my exam tomorrow" and an immortal being that created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies about 13,720,000,000 years ago, reads your mind and intervenes to alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to answer your request?

      I think I'll stick to working to achieve what I want. You can keep the praying,

      November 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Glen

      I would urge you to read up on Thomas Jefferson. He would not agree. He had a special place for clerics, priests, and preachers. He thought they were a threat to Liberty. I wholeheartedly agree. They are the friend of the despot (in the words of Jefferson)

      November 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  3. royalstar05

    This guy is a nut. He just likes to talk down to people.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  4. stevetall

    Like his dad, this guy is a clown, using religion and fear as a tool to make huge amounts of money in order to live like a king. Pathetic. If you religious people want to get involved in politics, you can start by paying taxes.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  5. Comment

    The Grahams' are not Christians, nor are most southern "Christian" churches. They espouse hatred and endorse candidates who would abandon the poor and the sick, and our planet. In actions and in words, they fail to follow the example of Christ.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • ken

      Why aren't you guys condemning religion like you do in the ME? You seem to think the general population over there all practice Islam the way the extremists do. Just like the way they probably perceive us, we are all like Timothy McVeigh. How do you think the people of Afghanistan and Iraq can deal with the likes of Al Qaeda when we couldn't deal with the likes of Timothy McVeigh? Persecuting all the people of the ME is not the answer just like persecuting all the blacks of America because of a few bad apples. You guys have to listen and learn and try not generalize on whole populations.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  6. Casey

    I would like the President to give Romney and the Televangelist a new tax rate for Christmas. HOW ABOUT 47%?

    That'll fix the economy.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Ann

      One of te best responses I have read lately....thanks for making me LOL.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  7. GayAtheist

    Both Graham and his sister are hateful jingoist bigots.
    Both have made extremely hateful anti-gay comments.
    Graham, and others of his ilk are the minority. "People of faith" are not going to "lead the way". They have been stopped at the ballot box.
    "People of faith" have been repudiated because Americans find them profoundly repugnant.

    Franklin Graham, you are the new ignored minority.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • ken

      And you use religion for what purpose?

      November 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  8. Patines

    Does he still use his nose for something else besides breathing?

    November 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  9. DJESQ

    We BORROW $4,000,000,000 a DAY !

    for the number-challenged, that's 4 BILLION DOLLARS a DAY !

    every DAY, even on Thanksgiving...

    pray for BO? no pray for all those who sacrificed to make this naiton great ... then watch if collapse ...
    ... fail ... go bankrupt ...

    $4 Billion a Day ... we lost ... sorry Madison
    .

    November 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • stevetall

      You can't even comprehend this amount, none of us can. So, how 'bout you just try to be a good citizen and acting like a know-it-all? I can tell by your tone that you voted for Romney, so that pretty much disqualifies you from joining the Intelligent Voters Club.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Scholar

      How much of that expense goes into defense budget that is far too large and into paying for two wars, one of which was started on a lie.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • ken

      It would've been fixed years ago if the GOP didn't make a point of trying to derail Obama. Watch the GOP in action again in December.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  10. Yoda

    I'd hate to know what they're praying about...

    November 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  11. conoclast

    Come on guys, sometimes the christians really do mean well; Franklin Graham should be lauded for attempting to "cross the aisle" in a time when organized religion is a main contributor to polarization. Thank you, Mr. Graham!

    November 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Larry Cross

      Yes, he did "cross the aisle" after helping creating it ... sorry, but "Personal Responsiblity" seems to be missing from his wonderful "Christian" ethic.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  12. Blue

    Graham, We understand your feelings and also your father's feelings about President Obama. It is too late to make nice. This is the first time that I can remember that the two of you came out so strongly against any presidential nominee. President Obama is a christian and Rormney is not. What does this say about you and your family? You go with the money. This behavior makes me wonder about your Father's christian beliefs because we already know what you are.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Nostradamus

      Great post. It's true from the start to the end.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Scholar

      Jesus had a single word that describes these people who make much in public of their piety.
      That is in Matthew 6:6.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  13. David Grant

    This guy is a MORON. First they claim Mormonism is a cult, then after a visit by Romney, they say its not. What a joke. If he prayed for Romney's win, then how come Obama won???? It shows that he has no power. I would say god has spoken, and chosen Obama to lead! All these Christian nuts...preying on gullible people.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  14. Nostradamus

    I respect Rev Billy Graham, but if I had the opportunity to make him a question, it would be: "Sir, where the heck were you when african americans and other minorities were trying to obtain fair rights, rejected by ultra conservative elements of both parties? Why did you never show the minimum solidarity with the movement of Civil Rights in the 60's ?" ......And if we speak about his son Franklin, this individual is a shame for all minority evangelical groups.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  15. Pasty

    I think he should be asking to pray for Americans and the Congress House Republican so they can change from their bad ways and work together for the good of the country. He should also be telling Americans to pray more for themselves. Obama is not god. Everyone needs to pray.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • David Grant

      This guy is a MORON. First they claim Mormonism is a cult, then after a visit by Romney, they say its not. What a joke. If he prayed for Romney's win, then how come Obama won???? It shows that he has no power. I would say god has spoken, and chosen Obama to lead! All these Christian nuts...preying on gullible people.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  16. Casey

    A FOOL IN HIS HEART SAYS THERE IS NO GOD.

    I cannot imagine how it would be without having HOPE for things to come. Must be a very dark place...

    November 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  17. Rev. Charles

    Franklin Graham is a hater and a loser. His prayers failed because Obama was re-elected (opposite of what he prayed for). So if Obama's prayer is accepted by God and Franklin Graham's is rejected; then the GREAT GOD is on the side of Obama, and Mr. Franklin Graham is on the Wrong side.

    Now; Who needs prayers, ........ Mr Franklin Graham.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Nostradamus

      Perhaps he's a hater, but not a loser. He's making 1.5 million dollars per year. I understand only "Rev" Cirullo makes more money than him ( 2.2 millions ). And babyface Joel Osteen is close to such figure. What would you make Jesus with this people, modern busisnessmen of the temple?

      November 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  18. Casey

    I'm highly encouraged by all of your posts. I too lost total respect for the Graham's endorsement of Romney. Not so much because of the CULT issue, but the fact that Obama cares about what Jesus cares about...The poor, the sick and the needy. AND as far as judgement of souls are concerned, that is GOD's business, not ours.

    I think it is about time that we expose the Televangelist for what they really are. Preditors of the persons who seek God – taking their cash instead of saving souls.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  19. Ann

    God put President Obama in the White house again. America has a serious problem with Racism; until we deal with it God will not change anything.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  20. treblemaker

    The trouble with Atheists is that they believe that they are without sin, that they are perfect, that they don't need God, and that they use the guilt that many believers have over their own committed sins as a sledgehammer over them. I say this this to all who believe in the transformative powers of the unseen God-repentance from the heart is a cleansing of the soul, a cathartic therapy that is priceless, yet doesn't cost one penny out of your pocket.

    Just remember; the world is the devil's playground, filled with traps and minefields worthy of any war zone. To negotiate the journey of life without a guide (the Way as shown by the Messiah) and a map (the Holy Bible) is just asking for trouble, unless you are foolhardy enough to do it alone and deal with the devil on his turf and on his terms. Ironically, even the devil serves God's purpose (if you don't believe me, read the Book of Job), because the devil is nothing more than a fallen angel jealous of God's power. The devil is like a drug pusher, offering a taste of success, money, beauty, etc. to win you over to his side, and then when you are hooked, he shows his true character.

    The USA as a country is in a state of moral decline. Why do I believe it? Because there seems to be no courtesy extended to the stranger anymore. Everyone hides behind walls nowadays, whether it's gated communities, their own dogmatic religious (or non-religious) beliefs, or other factors that exaggerate their fear of their own life. Furthermore, we worship the "golden calf" (obsessive consumerism), which God really has problems with, along with accepting "unacceptable behavior" in the name of love, which God REALLY has a problem with. That is idolatry in its worst form. The author is right-REPENT!!!!

    November 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Glen

      In the words of Thomas Jefferson, he stated that an atheist who did good works was just as decent a human being as any other. How dare you condemn atheists (which I am not) by lumping them into an "evil group". You mention that no one extends courtesy to a stranger anymore. That is nonsense. It all starts with you extending courtesy to others. It has nothing to do with God, and everything to do with being a respectful human being. If you feel that the only reason to "be nice to others" is to escape God's wrath, then you are doing it for the wrong reason. I respect your right to believe in those things which you mentioned, but when you extend your beliefs onto others by making claims that atheists are evil, then it only serves to show your own intolerance toward the human race.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
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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.