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.
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
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.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
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.
Billy may be in his 90's but he hasn't learned much about the universe. Who could live to be that age and believe that God loves one nation more than the next?
He said no such thing. He said that God blesses America due to its adherence to Godly principles. There is a reason why we aren't doing as well, have you thought about that?
After hearing so many divisive and indeed hateful comments from Graham and other conservative ministers about the President (such as praying for his death), I do commend him for asking his "followers" to pray FOR the President. Certainly with the problems facing our nation, a focused and sincere group consciousness directed at good things and guidance for the President is welcome.
It's amazing to me Franklin Graham and the self proclaimed Christian right's view of Biblical values.They say so much about what the Bible said so little and so little about what the Bible says so much.
An anal cervix.
This is total trash. This man did all he could to destroy the President politically and now he wants to pray for him? Stop these religious scams.
I wish Franklin Graham should shut a hell up and go away like his idol Mitt Romney. It's unbeleivable that the so called evangelical leader would support a mammorn instead and believe the doctrine of mormonism to be better than a baptist
If you're going to waste breath praying to clouds, do so for the United States and not the man destroying it.
Adults with imaginary friends make me laugh...
Vile,hateful,biased statements .Everyone is a critic on everything nowadays.We're all so perfect aren't we? Get down off your "soapbox" and do something to promote a better world for the less fortunate. Fight for justice,fairness and be charitable to one another. Think before you hate.
This from the guy who eliminated mormonism from thier list of cults when it was obvious Mittens was going to be thier guy. I love how thier "word of god" changes to suit thier need for political power, greed and lust.
After Billy Graham endorsed Nixon and later regretted it, he vowed to stay out of politics. It's too bad now that he has grown old, his son Franklin places him in that arena again. And all elections are "divisive."
When did these pastors ever stand up for the poor and demand health care for their flocks? It took sacreligious democrats to do that.
They'd rather buy million dollar pope mobiles and gold chairs and billion dollar castle-like churches. Religion is big business, and they've got plenty of sheep lined up for thier black friday sales every Sunday. Salvation 50% off this sunday only!
As long as it brings us together, what difference does it make how we get there? Anger and resentment are neither Christian nor Democratic. We all need to work together. Let's do it NOW!
Yeah, and they did it against the will of the citizens while ignoring the economy. And they didn't even bother to read the bill before voting for it. Hooray Democrats.
You people are the biggest hypocrites that ever walked the face of the earth, your racism overcame your hatred
for the Mormon church, who you called a cult right up to the election and then took it down from your website.
I have no respect for either Graham, who have preached theirselves all the way too the bank!!
Franklin Graham or any Southern Baptist that came out in support of a Mormon are no longer believable – they repudiated everything they have stated about the Mormons to endorse a political candidate – they are political not religious – that strikes to the core of their believability.
Now that the election is over, can the Mormons go back on the "cult list"?
I pray that greedy people like Franklin Graham quit acting like they are über-Christians and superior to others. Obama prays to the same God as you Franklin, and the man you 'endorsed' Romney prays to some god in space. So why don't you just pray for yourself that God just gives you some brains and some decency. I have a feeling that should keep you busy for a while.
Prayer changes nothing.
Don't waste energy praying. Instead, go down to your local animal shelter and adopt a pet that is on death row. Or, buy a homeless person a meal. Or, plant a tree amongst the concrete jungle. It is far more productive.
Your almost there......
Your suggestions are called "service". and are crucial activities that all Christians are called to do regularly.
Prayer is a different but equally important activity in which you talk with God to ask for help and work through difficulties.....
It's far more spiritual than symbolic religion. Good ideas.
I wish this moron would shut up already. He's already broken the law by using his Church to tell people to vote for Romney.
Politics trumps religion every time. They're trying to build a new Klan Era. Thanks for giving them the boot, though, America. You made me proud.
Franklin sooo wants to be in the public eye.. It's so sad
So Franklin is comfortable with other Gods before him ,easy to give up on religion for politics-now we clearly need to tax this religion scam..
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.