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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 • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (1,158 Responses)
  1. GianCarlo

    Billy Graham has a personal net worth of $25 million. If you are truly a Christian Billy, how about donating most of that money now to the poor the needy in this country who are suffering. Than just maybe you will have a chance to getting to heaven. Stop using that money for political purposes, do you think Jesus would approve of that? Money has corrupted you and your organizition, and that will not get you to heaven but will end you en the gates of hell.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • jaketinback

      Source please.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @jacketinback

      Just because I was bored...

      http://www.therichest.org/celebnetworth/celeb/televangelists/billy-graham-net-worth/

      Peace...

      November 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Evangelical

      Billy Graham has helped countless people in this country and throught the world. What have you done?

      November 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • God has helped countless people

      ... Bill just positioned himself between God and the believer and amassed $25 million.

      November 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • srosset

      Billy Graham net worth 25 million.. http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest.../billy-graham-net-worth/

      November 22, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  2. Angela

    So Franklin, God is in control right? So why won't Christians accept this? And don't give me the talking point of Saul. Just because God did that once doesn't mean he did it again. God does as he pleases and we don't know why he does what he does. But he allowed President obama to become president so you need to get in line and really pray for your leader from your heart and not to get rid of him because the bible says to pray for your leaders and those who are in authority. I tell ya as a chrisitan the church sickened me for this election and you Franklin were part of it.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  3. heliocracy

    Pray for him? Isn't there something useful we can do?

    November 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  4. Jonathan L.

    Please pray for Franklin Graham to stop spreading and indoctrinating this Christian nonsense fairy tale story to our children and future generations. Any one familiar with early Christian history and the making for the Bible knows that the Jesus stories are just never happened. Fabricated stories borrowed from other legends. It's such a ridiculous and harmful story. Pray Franklin grows up and matures spiritually.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Andy

      Thank you.....What a bunch of bull. The part CNN did not catch was they are praying for the President to get hit by a bus.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Jo

      Don't contribute to their Operation Christmas Child!!!! Check it out!!!!!

      November 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Miss Demeanor

      I wouldn't associate Billy's cult with Christianity. Their cult was the one loudly proclaiming in the south that gawwwwwd condoned slavery... worse still, some of their ministers still believe that today. They preach a sick dogma of revenge and hate. Look at Westboro members when they appear on TV... you will see the hate in their eyes. Jesus would have a fit if he ran across any of them.

      November 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  5. judith

    Graham did his best to be divisive and defeat Obama and now he's changed his tune as he realizes that the GOP is becoming irrelevant. Hypocritical much?

    November 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  6. Angela

    Remember the last prayers the Republicans prayed? They even printed shirts with the bible verse to let his days be few and his children fatherless. From what I have seen of the Grahams maybe they need the prayers. Scratching mormon off your site as being a cult was very telling and I don't think the father did it.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  7. Margaret

    I don't know, you want pastors to pray for Obama now, but all along we have had pastors praying for Obama to fail or at least die. We have one here in AZ who publicly prays for Obama's death. Wonder who's prayers God will listen to.

    You can pray, but how about spending some of those big bucks you collect to help Americans get a decent education so they can work, or providing day care so people can work knowing their families are safe? Or set up clinics in America for the vast numbers of uninsured to get basic care?

    November 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • jake

      I'm with you

      November 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • GianCarlo

      Amen Margaret! Well said. Have them put their money where their mouths at.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  8. WOT

    All you people think about is Money, as money is nothing but paper and paper comes from trees and only God can make a tree! If you love the tree maker you are rich also.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  9. ccm

    This would be a wise unifying message if he would accept responsibility for his fairly clear romney endorsement

    November 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  10. Rozznitz

    His choice, but personally I am offended. Moral decline?? Treating people the same regardless of gender or culture is a moral decline? Giving the best food, etc. to people based on what they are worth is a moral decline. You cannot stop change – you cannot stop aging – you are wasting your precious life trying to control it. You are arrogant to think that only you can make things happen in life.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  11. Scholar

    The implication that people are moving away from organized religions and therefore are becoming immoral is a specious argument. A study of the history of philosophy and religion shows that philosophy and morality can and did exist before the current organized religions. The religions took their views of what is moral from older philosophy.
    An argument can be made that secular people can be more moral than religious ones since they are solely responsible for their actions instead of being able to fall back on their religious beliefs as motivation for their actions.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  12. a believer

    With the acceptance by Mr. Bill Graham and his son that they are political and were very vocal and visible before elections, they should find their backbone and avoid this cameleonic stance they are in now.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  13. Jim

    Obama won and gets four more years, forget praying for him, pray for us, we're the ones up a creek.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • jake

      If you'd be able to understand US in the world's economic and political context, you'd be embarrassed for blaming Mr. Obama for it.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Tom

      Isn't that the truth.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  14. john reuter

    He needs to shut his mouth and just sit in the mansion in Montreat and feed the birds and deer !

    November 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  15. onthebeach

    I saw Franklin Graham on Piers Morgan and the main reason he endorsed Romney was that they both believed in marriage between a man and a woman. Hence, the blanket belief in "biblical values". There are many religions that do not embrace marriage between two men or two women. So, why not take them off the Graham website. Mormonism is not a Christian belief...it NEVER HAS BEEN.....they believe in Joseph Smith and praying for the dead along with those "holy" underwear and the BOOK OF MORMON. However, the Mormons would have the world believe that they worship Jesus Christ as lord and savior. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are a cult .....ALWAYS HAS BEEN....and it's sad that the Grahams have changed their minds about this. They are the biggest hippocrites I've seen in a while. Thankfully, the American people are no longer swayed by these idiots.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @onthebeach

      Hmm.... they're all kinda cultish in reality, aren't they ?

      Peace...

      November 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  16. WOT

    The same tongue that praise you will also curse you- God's Word!

    November 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  17. boyamidumb

    president Obama will do great things in his second term. So it is written. So shall it be

    November 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  18. Scholar

    This story belongs under POLITICS, not BELIEF.
    It was the political actions that created this situation.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  19. Colin

    Actually Franklin, you’ll find that most (ex-Christian) atheists don’t believe for one or more of the following reasons:

    The concept of an immortal being makes no sense to us.

    The concept of an all-powerful being makes no sense to us.

    The concept of an all-knowing being makes no sense to us.

    Throwing the three together into one being cubes its already dispositive implausibility.

    We tend to have a good working knowledge of the age, size and history of the Universe. The idea that a being would create the entire thing – with 400,000,000,000 galaxies, EACH with 100, 000,000,000 starts and even more planets, then sit back and wait 13,720,000,000 years for human beings to evolve on one planet so he could “love them” and send his son to Earth to talk to a nomadic group of Jews about sheep and goats in Iron Age Palestine (while ignoring the rest of the 200 million people then alive) makes no sense to us. We can’t help but ask ourselves, “did God make the Jews or did the Jews make God?”

    The answers usually proffered for what we see as basic logical flaws in Christianity – “you have been blinded by your lack of faith” “God moves in mysterious ways” “God is outside the Universe” or “our minds are too small to understand the greatness of God” are never satisfying to us. We see a retreat to mysticism as the first refuge of the cornered fool.

    The common argument, “well, what caused the Big Bang?” with the implication that, because we have only theories and no iron clad explanation for the Big Bang yet, the Judeo-Christian god must have caused it – does not make sense to us. “I don’t know” does not equal “god” to us, much less the Judeo-Christian god. We feel the answers to such a question are much more likely to be found in Einstein’s equations, quantum physics, large particle accelerators and radio telescopes than in Genesis Chapters 1 through 20. We’re crazy aren’t we?

    We do not see miracles in things like tornadoes missing a certain trailer in a trailer park, cancer going into remission or Tim Tebow winning a football game.

    We understand that Christianity is one of many, many religions in the World, and we don’t think that we were lucky enough to have been born in the one part of the World that “got it right”. Likewise, we know how all faiths evolve, morph and change over time and do not think we were lucky enough to have been born in the one generation that “got it right.”

    We tend to have a basic knowledge of history and know that there is nothing magical or special about the supposed history of the Jews, gospels, letters, apocalyptic story (Revelations) and other materials that found their way into the Bible, in that they are largely indistinguishable from the other mythology and religious writings of the pre Dark Ages Mediterranean.

    Human beings are terrified of their own deaths and we see the various religious beliefs that try to “wish it away,” such as reincarnation, living happily ever after in Heaven with Jesus, having your own Mormon planet etc. as nothing more than childish stories for the more näive, timid minds among us.

    We do not see morality as predicated upon a belief in the supernatural. We accept that one can be moral without believing in the supernatural and that doing so is no guaranty that one will conform to the norms of society that people call “morality”.

    “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist” is not a convincing argument to us, or even a relevant point, as in inability to disprove something is a far cry from it being true. We cannot prove that the Hindu gods Shiva or Vishnu do not exist either, nor Santa Claus for that matter, but that is hardly a reason to believe in them, or even evidence for their existence. It is impossible to prove a negative in this context.

    When one looks at the various Christian beliefs that were once firmly believed – Adam and Eve, Noah’s flood, people living to be 700 or 900 years old, the Red Sea splitting, water turning into wine, a talking snake, a man living in a whale’s belly, people rising from the dead, Jesus driving demons out of people and into pigs – but which are now acknowledged by most thinking people to be mere mythology, it is pretty hard to give a lot of credibility to what’s left.

    It is hard not to consider Christianity as based on circular reasoning. Most Christians believe in God because the Bible says so, then turn around and say they believe the Bible because it is the word of God. To draw an analogy, “I believe Mao Zedong was a great man because The Little Red Book says so, and the reason I believe The Little Red Book is that it was written by Mao Zedong, who was a great man.” Do you even have the slightest idea of how your Bible was compiled over the centuries or who decided what to include and what to exclude and on what grounds? Can you even name one of hundred plus authors who contributed to it? One of the many people who decided what got in and what didn’t?

    To be bluntly honest, the more one comes to understand mother nature, the less reason there is to believe in a god and the more one understands human nature, the more one sees why so many of us still do.

    So, before you next proudly proclaim you know the secrets to life, death, the origins of life on Earth and the origins of the Universe, simply because your parents or priest taught you some comforting stories from late Bronze Age Palestine as a child, you might like to reflect upon the overwhelming enormity of the claims you are about to make and the complete paucity of evidence that underwrites those claims.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Colin

      Happy Turkey Day, brother !

      Peace...

      November 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Ph.D

      Colin, I appreciate your intellectual proclivity here; however, please note objective reasoning also plays havoc on the prospect that evolution is a viable solution to the origins of man. Statistically, the whole postulate is a "stretch". I should know, I have taken four graduate level course in anthropology, and left thinking that evolution was more of a belief system, because of the lack of empirical evidence, and the reasoning of how one species "fits" into another. Fact is, being human is being biased, scientists are also inclined to be biased to their own findings to support what they already believed. In fact, there is no way, absolutely no objective and empirical way to "prove" the belief in evolution.
      That being said, you may wan to also study about the problems associated with carbon 14 dating. The probability of significant error increases as the chronological measure is lengthened. Also, the a petrified pine tree that was partially cover by volcanic lava was unearthed in the Pacific Northwest. According to C-14 dating, the top of the tree (Unexposed to lava solidification) was 10,000 years older that the bottom of the tree. Thus, to blindly believe in a measuring device that cannot be calibrated at either end of the measurement spectrum is using more faith than certainty.
      As a trained scientist, I think we all find "something" to believe in that we cannot measure. Just depends on what make us feel comfortable. Whatever give us the most comfort, give us security. What gives us security must be true. It is called mental health. (Ex. I could never prove that my child loves me, I only see that he replicates behaviors that I call "loving", and then I convince myself he loves me)
      One good thing about a belief in life after death (aka. Salvation), you get an exit ramp instead of a brick wall to look forward to on your death.
      Thanks for listening....

      November 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  20. TerryG

    In a world full of hypocrites Franklin is a man among men.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:03 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.