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Franklin Graham apologizes for questioning Obama's faith commitment
Franklin Graham's has previously raised doubts about President Obama's Christianity.
February 28th, 2012
10:38 PM ET

Franklin Graham apologizes for questioning Obama's faith commitment

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The Rev. Franklin Graham on Tuesday apologized for publicly raising questions about President Barack Obama’s Christian faith, saying “I regret any comments I have ever made which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president, Mr. Obama.”

The statement from Graham came in response to a letter from faith leaders associated with the NAACP that said Graham’s statements “have enormous negative effects for America and are especially harmful to the Christian witness.”

In a television interview last week that provoked huge media attention, Graham appeared to question the sincerity of Obama’s Christian commitment.

"You have to ask him,” Graham said, pondering whether Obama is Christian. “I cannot ask that question for anybody."

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In the  February 21 interview on MSNBC, Graham repeated earlier statements about Obama’s ties to Islam, while denying that the president is a Muslim.

"Under Islamic law – Sharia law – Islam sees him as a son of Islam," Graham said. “Because his father was a Muslim, his grandfather was a Muslim. ... That's just the way it works."

In their Tuesday letter to Graham, the NAACP faith leaders, which included the presidents of the National Baptist Convention USA and the National Baptist Convention of America, took aim at the MSNBC interview.

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“We were disturbed and disappointed by statements … that questioned whether President Obama is a Christian,” the letter said. “Rev. Graham also seemed to imply that the president may be a Muslim, despite the fact that the president has repeatedly expressed his faith and belief in Jesus Christ.”

In his statement on Tuesday, Graham said, “The president has said he is a Christian and I accept that (and have said so publicly on many occasions).”

“I apologize to him and to any I have offended for not better articulating my reason for not supporting him in this election—for his faith has nothing to do with my consideration of him as a candidate,” Graham’s statement continued.

Graham, an evangelical Christian who is the son of evangelist Billy Graham, also rejected the idea of voting for a candidate on the basis of a shared religious faith.

“I would support a Mormon or a Jew who supported the defense of marriage defined as being between a man and a woman over a Southern Baptist or Presbyterian who did not,” he said.

In the MSNBC interview, Graham said most Christians would "not recognize Mormonism" as part of Christianity in response to a question about whether Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is a Christian.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (785 Responses)
  1. nuts

    Why does everyone care about what Billy Graham says, just because his father was a devout man of God doesn't make him a Christian or man of God that people should look up to, just as much as Obama's father being a Muslim doesn't make the President a Muslim. If I am a doctor, and my child is a seamstress would you take medical advice from her?

    February 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      Maybe cause he said "My Muslim faith." and he wears his muslim garb.??? huh. You don't see me walking around in mormon drawers cause all my cousins are mormons.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      muslim garb huh? ok i'll bite...what muslim garb?

      February 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      google it. Obama dressed in his muslim wear with his muslim brothers and bowing to them etc.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Truth=Jesus

      google it. Obama dressed in his muslim wear with his muslim brothers and bowing to them etc."

      Lying is a sin.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      lol, bearing false witness again huh? google it he says, lol.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • DeTamble

      *** Truth=Jesus

      google it. Obama dressed in his muslim wear with his muslim brothers and bowing to them etc.

      ---------------------------------------------
      You have an Obama fetish.
      Do you play with yourself looking at his picture ?
      Its clear that you are not a Christian, as only GOD can judge.
      And by the way, it doesnt matter what his religion is.
      The only one obsessed with it, is you.

      Now, having said that, here is some good advice....

      Get your finger out of your butthole,
      get off the freaking computer, and get some fresh air,
      You are starting to smell bad,
      and you are getting boogers all over the keyboard.

      Repeat after me...
      I will not tell lies
      i will not tell lies
      i will not tell lies..

      Feel better ?

      February 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  2. Jeff

    I have never seen a president go through so much, unrelenting, perpetual disrepect ever. It is absolutely shameful the way the right has treated this president. All presidents get ridiculed to a certain degree, but this is unprecedented.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Rick CT

      Yopu obviously just arrived on the scene in 2009. You might want to check what some of the leading Dems had to say about the prior president before making your blanket statement

      February 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  3. Guitar

    Just another religious Bigot, who wants to 'control' others lives.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      He has a right to speak his mind when asked a question. He has to help pay back this huge debt Obama has created.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Kill The Wabbit

      He has a right to speak his mind when asked a question. He has to help pay back this huge debt Bush has created.

      February 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  4. bgraham

    i keep thinking that one day we will get past this color thing but still they cant let it go and those who think different are just fooling there self

    February 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  5. steve jones

    gotta love a man of God so full of lies and hate

    February 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  6. BBPatriot

    "better articulating my reason for not supporting him in this election"

    You're an idiot?

    February 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  7. Lawrence Ohrbach

    Your father is a decent man. Obviously something you never learned. President Obama is a wonderful man I voted for him before and I'll vote for him again. Wonderful family man You never hear any scandal about him or his family Republicans are all into it for the money and could care less about anyone in this country. Franklin Graham is a phony. God help us if the republicans win in 2012.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      OH please, the fraud can't even produce a real birth certificate. The nation is in such debt since he entered office that it is on the verge of crumbling.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • scatheist

      That's right. I think his father is a decent man and Franklin is a demogogic freek show. My own father was a minister who was fond of Billy. He'd puke after listening to this guy.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • scatheist

      Come on Jesus "truth". Go join Santorum in the Liars for Jesus parade.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • NJBob

      @Truth=Jesus - You must be taking drugs. But what? Give us a clue.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Simon Says

      Oh my god, we still have birthers ?
      Even Trump gave up on this silly garbage.
      I should feel sorry for this moron, but i dont.
      This would be funny, if it wasnt so pathetic.
      ---------------------–

      Truth=Jesus

      OH please, the fraud can't even produce a real birth certificate

      February 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  8. Wow

    What is the difference between some extreme Right-wing Christians and the Nazis of Hitler's Germany? The Right-wing Christians have not sent anyone to the the gas chambers... yet, that is.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • DH

      I'm an atheist that voted for Obama and will do so again. But you, you're just an idiot.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Deej59

      Look, Nazi comparisons are nutty at this point. There are wackos on both ends of the spectrum, right and left. I have seen extremists of the right promising concentration camps for liberals. THOSE people you can compare to Nazis because they're that kind of extreme. But don't make the mistake of labeling the rank and file religious right as being Nazi-like. You and I don't agree with them, and clearly we'll have to fight to keep them from imposing the rules of their religions on us, but we're not too worried about being hanged from telephone polls or shot in the street for our beliefs. Dial down the extreme comments. It only causes an equal and opposite reaction from the other side.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Feed Your Head

      People are going to bash you for what you just said.
      But this is exactly how the Brown shirts in Germany started.
      People who dont learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
      This is not a road we want to go down again.

      That line about "carrying a bible in one hand...and the flag in the other"
      is not only true of Nazi Germany, it is what we are seeing today.

      Just look at the posts from "Truth=Jesus".
      Decked out as a christian, he is screaming about Obama being a Muslim.
      Posting the most insane lying garbage masked as truth.
      These are the people we should all be affraid of.

      America is a secular and diverse country.
      Lets keep it that way.

      February 29, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  9. scatheist

    Franklin Graham is a lying moron of the first order. I watched that live, and it was perfectly clear what he meant. He said Santorum and Gingrich were Christians, but he couldn't say about Obama.

    In his apology he doesn't even take back what he said. Instead he tries to say that's not the reson he won't vote for Obama.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  10. kentuckyscience..)com

    Our God is a God of the living and not of the dead, thus he has no plan to create nothing or become it. (Luke 20:38) In our God the creator of our Lord Jesus Christ, time has no beginning or end. Whose Son is the Christ? David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son? (Luke 20:41-44) Jesus healed many people, so he had the power to speak to the body. If the spirit is weaker than the body, don’t expect the body to follow the commands of its own spirit. (John 18:6) Sin hurts other people, thus we should be held accountable or blamed for the pain we caused others. However, just like Judas we are not strong enough to carry that burden. Jesus sets us free from this burden or the pain and blame others point at us because we hurt them with our sin. The finger was pointed to Jesus at Calvary.All of the law is built on the first and second commandment. Every law that follows is meant to be ways to make following the Greatest Commandment become a desire of the heart, mind, and soul. Laws that do not promote the following of the greatest commandment are age old traditions that need to be changed!!! 1 Corinthians 15:29 would be a new testament example.

    Therefore the principles of human evolution from an insane species require a virgin birth of Adam and Eve for the establishment of a moral and just human government (Isaiah 9:6).

    February 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • NJBob

      WHAT?!?!

      February 29, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • JohnRJohnson

      Please cite ANY credible historical evidence that Jesus ever existed. In the meantime, check your arrogance meter. I think it is off the scale.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Nutjob.

      February 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  11. Chance

    Graham's wig seems to have shifted a bit.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  12. its-about-time

    If Franklin Graham has to be pressured by his peers to apologize to the President for his incorrect and idiotic remarks, then the apology doesn't mean a damn thing!!! . . . Now Franklin, go kiss your daddy on the cheek and tell him you won't embarrass the family or act like a moronic idiot again. Your position is not a birth right and you don't belong in it. You're arrogant and use your god as a crutch!

    February 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • jnpa

      I agree!

      February 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • NJBob

      I agree too!

      February 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • NJBob

      Actually he uses his religion more like a cudgel.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  13. LouAZ

    Statement by Graham ? To who ? Where ? Did this statement from Graham come to CNN in a burning bush ?

    February 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  14. Jaya

    Nice comments for the most part, here's a thought – How come FoxNews.com doesn't have this kind of free-for-all open discussion on their site? Nothing. Not a peep. Would Jesus watch Fox? Could He post a comment? Start a blog? Or would they still kill Jesus if He was back in town?

    February 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • ferisbueller

      They do. If you're reading an article you'll see above and below the article itself they'll have a few icons (may have to wait a few moments for them all to load). You'll see they have a facebook icon and next to it, a "comment" icon. Click on that and you can comment on the articles. It's just that the comment section isn't "below" the article as it is on CNN, it actually pulls up a different page. But I will warn you, what you are about to see may disturb you

      February 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Deej59

      Don't do it, man! Seriously, don't go over there. You'll feel like Taylor did when he discovered that, even though the planet looked like earth as far as the eye could see, he was behind enemy lines and surrounded by angry apes with guns. The comment section there makes CNN's comment section look like an Up With People rally (dating myself here). It's like The Land Intelligence Forgot over there.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Jaya, stay out of the cesspool.
      You dont want to go there.
      Just believe me.

      February 29, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  15. kentuckyscience..)com

    Baptism is associated with accepting Jesus and being saved by grace. Being saved by grace means you should have received a punishment for your sin which hurt other people. The problem is that Grace tends to be put above The Greatest Commandment Matthew 22:37. If Grace were above the Greatest Commandment, then the devil could be forgiven and he would be in heaven. The devil does not love God and this is the reason he is not in heaven. The purpose of following the law is to show others that we love God. Unfortunately, those that view Grace above the Greatest commandment are using the law as a means to judge others as being not good enough to follow it. This is the common argument against the Jew. Love or judge, the choice is yours! Matthew 22:37 states you are called to Love and the law tells us how. Not knowing that God loves us is associated with our inherited sin from the fall of Adam and Eve. For God so loved the world that he sent his son not to condemn the world but to save it. Christ forgives our old sinful ways, since being born again is associated with a change in behavior because we now see that God loves us and therefore we now desire to love him. If grace is infinite, then it would not be a choice to love God. If grace is infinite, there would be no reason to change our ways and become a new creation or be born again. If grace is infinite, then God would accept evil and thus be evil. To forgive and not expect any change in behavior would produce more of the same behavior that the original forgiveness required.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Amadea

      Ah ... Kentucky Science ... but you must want that Grace! And most of the world today does not.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  16. RogerFrancis

    Yes you are right. But I don't think it matters that he is muslim or Jew; he is a bad incompetent President who never managed people before.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      Yes you're right, but everyone is so upset because Graham said the obvious when he was made to answer a question. Had he refrained from answering he would still be bashed. He would have had to lie like he is doing now by apologizing. Now he owes God and apology.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • NJBob

      Graham wouldn't be "bashed" if he bothered to tell the truth.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  17. Truth=Jesus

    The man owed no one an apology. Obama himself says "My Muslim faith" "the muslim call to prayer is the most beautiful sound" "america is not a christian nation" Does that sound Christian to any of you.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • NJBob

      America is most definitely NOT a Christian nation, nor was it ever one. It is a nation in which a majority of its citizens happen to be Christian. There's a huge difference.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      I don't care, OBAMA AIN'T ONE OF THEM!!! PERIOD!!!

      February 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Myrna Davis

      You are totally full of it. Check out factcheck.org and you'll see that he never said anything like that. It's people like you who spread these false rumors who are causing such a divide in the nation.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • NJBob

      @Truth=Jesus - Evidently neither are you.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Taking things out of context is still bearing false witness, ironic coming from someone with the truth=jesus name.
      Obama said the US was not just a christian country but a country of other faiths. The muslim faith comment was a slip of the tongue, and he said the call to prayer was "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset." (and he is right, it is an amazing sound even if i am not a fan of religion)

      February 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Truth = Darwin

      Technology is un-christian. You should pray that your messages appear online instead of using a computer.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • jnpa

      It is a country of religious freedoms. By saying it is a Christian country is saying that others are not welcome or will not fit in with the religious ideology of the nation. That is totally false!

      February 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • skarphace

      This highlights the reason why jerks like Graham say something outrageous and then later 'apologize'.

      The fact that they said it in the first place means more to bigots that believe such nonsense than an 'apology' ever will. If Graham really did not mean to insult our President and pander to the Tea Party bigots, then he would not have said it in the first place.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • jnpa

      He never said that. If you think he did, please provide the website where these quotes were printed or the video where they were spoken. I seriously doubt you can, because I seriously doubt they exist...stop spreading lies!

      February 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      Google it.
      Obama kills and eats children.
      The commie is selling us to china.
      He is the anti christ.
      He is going to take over the world, and start world war 3.
      His Obamacare will kill your grandma.
      His war in Iraq and afganistan has killed Billions of people.
      He gave Iran a drone to help them get a nuke.
      He didnt kill Bin Laden, he helped him escape.
      Obama is a socialist, communist, fascist.
      His wife wants to dictate that children eat good food, how un-american is that.
      Obama wants to wipe out Jews and christians so muslims take over the world.
      Obama hates cats because he has a dog.
      Obama hates woman because he has a wife.
      Obama doesnt have a birth certificate because he wasnt born.

      I think that covers it.

      February 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  18. NJBob

    He deserves to be ignored for his mean-spiritedness and his bigotry.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      Mean spiritedness???? They practically had to pull it out of him and now he is apologizing knowing that he knows Obama is anything but Christian, probably because of threats. The liberal media is the ones who are mean spirited.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • NJBob

      @Truth=Jesus - Listen, there are also no liberal media in this country except for perhaps evenings on MSNBC. From my perspective, the media in this country almost all spout right-wing garbage. So don't hand me that crap.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Dance This Mess Around

      *** The liberal media is the ones who are mean spirited....

      Sounds like something Sarah palin would say.
      When you cant answer a question, just blame the media for asking it.
      Duh !

      February 29, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  19. GaryB

    If support ot rejection of gay marriage is this "christian's" litmus test for supporting a canidate, then he isn't much of a Christian, is he, whether or not his father was a preacher.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  20. Keith

    Why should Graham apologize when Obama does the old Freudian slip? I only post this video because ABC won't let any access the original-citing some copyright b.s. I only care about the portion with the George Stephanopolous interview.
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18VOGykrgHo&w=640&h=360]

    February 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • asdf

      Not that you care, but that whole interview was about McCain implying or accusing Obama of being muslim. I'd hardly call him misspeaking in a convesation about Islam a "freudian slip".

      February 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • scatheist

      Because a slip of the tongue is different than a well thought out statement genius.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • asdf

      Also I don't think you know what a freudian slip is. That's when someone has some subconscious preference or thought that accidentally surfaces. At best you are accusing Obama of being a liar, not having a "freudian slip".

      February 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Keith

      asdf, There is no way in hell I would "misspeak" THAT. He acts like a Sunni Muslim.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Keith

      asdf, And as such, it is permissible for him to lie to us "infidels" if it will get him elected to as President as the most powerful nation on the planet.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:59 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.