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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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 29, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  2. Truth=Jesus

    "'Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.' " (Matthew 7:6, NKJV throughout)

    "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes." (Proverbs 26:4-5)

    February 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      "but this one goes to 11" (Spinal Tap)

      February 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • tonyl

      You need help. You are twisted. You sound like a Christian Taliban.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      It's from the Bible. How does that make me a taliban? Good grief!

      February 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  3. Jers

    Franklin is a bigot. His father must be ashamed at what his son professes as being a Christian. Judge not lest ye be judged, Franklin. I get so tired of these so called Christians sitting back and judging people. To me that is one of the biggest sins of all.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  4. momoya

    When the country's "representatives for god" speak out, they should be held accountable for what they say. They should not be able to apologize, later. You can't apologize after you see what that the statement is unpopular for the same reason that they think a hell-bound sinner cannot apologize after death when finding out that their chosen belief was not correct.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  5. tonyl

    Franklin Graham has lost all the respect for being a partisan right wing fanatic. I had supported his charity but after listening to his right wing fanatic Taliban like comments, I have decided not to support him or his charity. His father is a great man of God who always stayed above the fray. Frankin has lost all the credibility for consistently making derogatory comments about other faiths. He has hurt his father's legacy. The man needs to ask for forgiveness from God publicly and show his remorse for disrespecting other faiths. He should go back and look his fathers good deeds and humility.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  6. Rev. Rick

    First Graham said, "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.

    Then Graham said, “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.

    Hmmm. First Graham says a candidate's faith (beliefs?) has nothing to do with whether he would vote for him, then says he would support a Mormon or a Jew if they believe the same way he does.

    Any faith is fine as long as it's Mr. Graham's faith.

    February 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  7. Olaf Big

    It says a lot abot us that Graham's remark caused such an uproar. Should not faith matter in public affairs? So, what if Obama were a Muslim? Why is that such a strong negative? If you asked if German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a Christian, and somebody answered "I don't know, ask her " on TV, that would not cause the slightest stir, even though she is officially a Christian Democrat.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      Ask the victims missing hands and feet, etc.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      I think its more of Graham trying to claim Obama lies about his faith rather than what his faith is that is causing the uproar.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  8. Deni

    Typical tabloid ploy of evangelicals...make disparaging untruthful a.k.a.bold-faced lie today, submit apology/retraction later when it suits, particularly if personal finances are threatened. How utterly predictable of Mr. Graham. I'm sure his personal jesus will forgive him. After all, isn't that how it works for christians? Do unto others especially if it feels good and when you get caught, act remorseful and you're forgiven? Just do the right thing by others. Its that simple.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  9. Truth=Jesus

    By the way, if you haven't figured it out yet...I'm just an ignorant, ring wing, god fearing, fox viewing, NASCAR watching, Limbaugh listening, Jesus freak nut job....

    But I'm know I'm right, so that is all that matters.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • anagram_kid

      Your forgot a few – intolerant, hypocrite, delusional, hateful, conceited, self righteous and not at all the type of person Christ would admire. But good luck to you anyway.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      Hiding again hippey. I think that 7 year old little boy is still trapped.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • anagram_kid

      Is hippey another poster? If so, I only post under this name. My guess is that I am not the first person to point out your very unchristian qualities. Why do you suppose that is?

      February 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • tonyl

      You forgot to mention about your keeping your wife pregnant and in breeding with about 10 children and making sure she never practice any birth control. Keeping you woman barefoot in the kitchen while you go hunting killing animals and drinking beer. What a exiting life!!!

      February 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      anagram...cause you're not christian and you don't have a clue.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • The REAL Truth

      ".I'm just an ignorant, ring wing, god fearing, fox viewing, NASCAR watching, Limbaugh listening, Jesus freak nut job....

      But I'm know I'm right, so that is all that matters."
      ----------------------------------–
      ROT FL MAO – that explains it then. Please go away and save these poor electrons that you are terribly inconveniencing!

      February 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  10. Mike in SD

    I am puzzled about the "killing of unborn children" and the "gay agenda".
    Roe v Wade was a Supreme Court decision and so falls under the executive branch purview to ensure compliance,
    I look at the Gay Agenda as simply fulfilling the American ideal of freedom and personal choice. I view any groups trying to hinder freedom as anti-American.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Right on Mike! You've got it.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  11. Jimmy

    I don't think people should ask other people about their religion. It's a strickly personal matter. The same goes for people who have no religious belief. They should keep their opinions to themself. Either way, by definition it's a belief, and therefore there is no proof either way.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • anagram_kid

      If religion were about belief, I would agree. But it is not – it is about behavior; the rules of what one must, may and are forbidden to eat, read,say, wear…etc. The problem arises when one person or group states that their behavior is correct and forces it upon others. If you still don’t get it, imagine living in a country where you are forbidden to wear clothing with zippers, have electricity, eat meat on Friday, eat any pork including bacon…etc. all under the penalty of prison or death.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  12. ckmn

    hippypoet beat up on Truth=Jesus

    February 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  13. zosk

    This dude is just as ingnorant as his father before him and will say anything ( just as any republican would ) to increase his followers.....and that's the hard truth!

    February 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  14. Thelma

    Franklin inherited the family business, but he is not his father who was kind to ALL our presidents. It seems the son has lost the family Jesus gene in a poker game. Time to close up shop. You showed your true colors, and we don't like what we see. You lost your credibility and damaged the family name your dad worked so hard to build. Nice job, Jr.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • mr. Steve-o

      I bet you walk on water!

      February 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • scatheist

      This is nothing new. Franklin was/maybe still is a birther.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  15. Dev

    Ive just wikied him and I was surprised with what I found about him. "In 1971, he attended LeTourneau College in Longview, Texas, and was expelled from the school for keeping a female classmate locked in his closet." Such a bigot.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • mr. Steve-o

      You ever did anything wrong?

      February 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Momof3

      Steve – we'e all 'done something wrong', but keeping a person locked in a closet is much more than a reason for school expulsion, it's also a crime that should have been punished, but probably wasn't because of his last name!

      February 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  16. mr. Steve-o

    Atleast Franklin doesnt yell allah akbar and say kill all the infiedels.
    Give the man a break.If its a muslim you all wanna hand him everything,however Graham is a Christian so you like persecuting him.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • scatheist

      He's a lying birther too.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      trolling right?

      February 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  17. manhandler1

    Who listens to these overrated dinosaurs, anyway?

    February 29, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  18. Kelly

    His father advised many sitting Presidents of the US, regardless of their faith....and they took his counsel...because it came from goodness. He isn't his father, he wants to influence the vote to elect the candidate he wants....instead of influencing all that sit in the seat of the President of the US. Be ashamed of yourself, and my letter is Baptist. Again.....we were built on a clear vision of separation of church and state, that no one religion would influence the policy or laws in the United States....that includes Baptist. And before the small minded people react with their blood pressure going through the ceiling....it doesn't mean religion isn't a part of the US, the decisions we make.....that is why Billy Graham took his knowledge and love of God to all President's.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  19. manyote

    Hell is going to freeze for sure now! A republican with the cojones to apologize. A vanishing breed these days.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  20. Panda

    Why do people think they can say dumb things then turn around and apologize. We know this guy meant what he said, but not that he is on the hot seat he wants to backtrack.

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

      I saw it live – you're right.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:41 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.