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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. Lennox Raphael

    HE APOLOGIZED. LET*S MOVE ON.
    It*s Christian to not rub salt in the wound.

    March 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  2. Lennox Raphael

    HE APOLOGIZED. LET*S MOVE ON.

    March 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  3. Joan K.

    Why does everyone who gets religion become a fanatic when they are on these blogs? Religion belongs in the home and in the church. If one has no religion, it doesn't mean he/she is immoral or uncaring or not spiritual in his/her own way. Our government needs to keep religion and its tentacles out of it and also out of the schools. Organized religion is the cause of most of the hatred and wars of this world. Jesus taught some good lessons – it's a shame no one listens to him!

    March 3, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Cameron

      The idea that people can be good, ethical and actively charitable person without religion is functionally incomparable with Christianity. Some Christians seems to forget their book compilation says that non believers are horrible people who can do no good. For an evangelical religion it's simply not possible to just let people be on the grounds of their moral character. And it's not helped by the fact their book says even a Christians good works are dirty rages. The Bible sets the most important thing for a person as one thing. That you believe in Jehova and that Jesus is his son and your savior.

      Christianity is not about being good or ethical. It's about being a member of a magical club.

      March 3, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  4. Mimi

    Such hatred being aimed at Christians. Our government schools should be proud!

    March 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  5. David Johnson

    Rev. Franklin Graham is trying to fill his daddy's big shoes. I think it will be an impossible task for him.

    I care nothing for Graham's opinion on god, the country or President Obama.

    I believe Graham may be a racist. OOPS! I'm sorry. I should have articulated that better.

    Cheers!

    March 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Mimi

      @ Amen. "Judge not lest you be judged." Billy Graham is a great many of God, and yet he advised Presidents. Franklin Graham does amazing work all over the world, winning many to a saving belief in Christ, and saving lives in this world. What have you done for God lately?

      March 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  6. jpss

    Mormons are Christians. Baptists and Presbyterians do not get to decide who is a Christian. Mormons believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and are therefore Christian. Please keep in mind that most Mormons are not child-molesting weirdos. We have had weirdo sects break off from just about every religion under the sun. And no, I am not Mormon, but I know a bit about them.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @jpss

      Being able to decide who is a Christian and therefore a true American, is one of the things that scares me about the Christian Right's attempt to dominate our country. I know Romney is a Mormon, and you would want to vote for him, but that would not be a wise move. A vote for any Republican is a vote for Christian Right domination.

      Cheers!

      March 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Amen

      The devil also believes (James 2.19). That does not make him Christian. Christianity has been far abused by the conservative religious nuts that the likes of Franklin, Glen Beck, Hanity, Palin, Al Sharpton, Jesse J, have been ordained knights to fight, not a spiritual warfare but a religious political ideologies that have no scriptural basis. They are interested in winning followers, not souls for Christ. Billy Graham, a Giant of Faith, would Preach the Kingdom of God to all man kind, not lead a Tea Party crusade to establish whether Obama is a Believer, a Citizen, a Muslim, a patriot...
      I pray Franklin finds Christ, the Personal Savior, not the political or conservative one

      March 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Mimi

      As with Catholics, Mormons rely heavily on "works", and not justification by grace alone. I believe we are "saved" by grace and grace alone. If you truly believe that Christ is your (personal) Saviour, that he died and rose again to save you from your sins, then I believe you are a Christian. All those "rules" are just man-made "stuff". But, our President says there are many ways to heaven. Not true! Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life. NO ONE comes to the Father, but by me."

      March 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Mimi

      @ David Johnson. Being a true Christian and a true American have nothing whatsoever to do with each other!

      March 3, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  7. fortruth47

    The bible and the words of Jesus are clear that no one is a Christian simply because they claim to be. Jesus said in Mt 7v21 "Not everyone who says to me "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord" did we not prophesy [preach] in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"
    Its clear only the ones who truly obey and follow the teaching of Christ are Christians. Its also true MANY will claim to be Christian who are false. Graham does not stand on bibical truth to say if Obama says he is a Christian I accept that he is. Truth is only God knows for sure.

    March 1, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  8. OrangeW3dge

    Oh wait, I want to say something grown up too: Obama is mooselum. And a kakahdoodooledoo, too.
    Do I get an attaboy?

    March 1, 2012 at 4:16 am |
  9. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    March 1, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • Bryan

      Maybe you need to learn how to pray. Just saying. LOL

      March 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  10. Benjamin Zhao

    I posted my comments on USATODAY, and it was quickly deleted. So I decided to do it here as well. I'm deeply concerned about this news. Does Franklin Graham know many innocent peoples around the world and inside the United States have been killed for the reason in order to rise Obama as President of the United States? I even doubt if Obama is able to keep his wife safe. And Obama obviously has either no desire or power to stop such human sacrifice. Halleluiah! Let's go kill for Jesus Christ, no guilt at all. For that reason, I'm sure I should become a Christian one day. Mr. Frank, you are either a weaker one or need a better education on Humanity.

    March 1, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  11. RightTurnClyde

    Well now ain't it the well for apologizing. Obama up and apologized to Kargill for burning his Koran (who did not apologize back to Obama for blowing up our soldiers .. or even for using the Korans to send coded messages. Or for 9-11 or for Lockerbee or for The Marine Barracks .. or for harboring Al Qada in the first place which is why we came there. And Iraq has't apologized either for IED's or the Kurds or beheadings. Nor has Iran apologize yet for getting nuclear weapons and targeting Israel. But now Franklin Graham is apologizing to Obama for what? For not thinking the Rev. Wright is actually Christian (since that was Obama's "pastor") becuase I did not hear Wright ever say anything about Jesus of read his gospels . so I was thinking .. well that is no Christian church. I guess Graham was too. All the talk was about d$^%%$# the U.S. .. and then Obama and his nasty woman won't salute our flag or respect our national symbols .. so he seems like he's not even one of us (un-American). Well that brings to mind Bill Ayers who said he will never apologize for blowing up U.S. federal buildings and injuring people (along with HIS wife Bernadette Dohrn) Then, of course, Obama keeps talking about the "Holy Quran" and making ridicule of the Christian Bible .. so that would make you wonder and think he was not Christian. Then he knows how to get into kneeling in the Mosque and shouting the stuff from the top of the Mosque (all-ie-all-ie in free Joey is a monkey) And he bows to all the Moslem kings and queens and princes and get snubbed by British Royalty as well as Russian cabinet members (so why is that?) He doesn't want o pay for treatment for our soldiers and sailors (that's not very Christian). He and ACORN are close but they are not Christian. His socialist and communist pals are not Christian. So I can see why Franklin Graham wondered about Obummer .. he just doesn't show any behavior that would infer he is Christian. I still think he is Moslem (which is OK) but that"s who he favors.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • CM

      Jesus was smited by many among him, and he turned the other cheek. Is it not the Christ like thing to do to apologize, whether others follow the same is not of your, or my concern.

      What does saluting a flag have to do with Christianity? I would speculate that it has NOTHING to do with Christianity... as you are not to bow to any idols, be it the flag or a talking cow...

      March 3, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  12. marga

    God is a packaged deal and our founding fathers saw past that. They were enlightened people, not God fearing Jesus loving parakeets. All you people do is repeat, repeat, repeat. get off the stage. Its all just a game, go have some fun and live a little. There are other worlds all around you and many more to discover.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Monty

      Actually, to our founders religion came in two flavors: England and Spain. The Church of England attacked us in 1812 to keep us from going Catholic, for example. There was a huge political aspect to it that the existence of the United States has almost destroyed.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  13. Blessed Geek

    Well, you wish to question my Christianity? So, my honest answer is I am not a Christian and Jesus is not god.

    But I had a couple of friends who were Muslims but became Christians – but according to Franklin they are not Christians because their parents and community refused to accept that they are no longer Muslim. So, Franklin based his theory on whether a person is Christian or Muslim on what the perception and acceptance of someone's parents and community not upon personal conviction. So all those gospel rallies his Dad held in the fareast, in Singapore, the Phillipines, where tons of Muslims converted to Christianity is invalidated.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Tonilee

      Graham was not saying that if ones parents are Muslim then you have to be one....He was making reference to all that makes up obama. Anyone can become a Christian, just by truly accepting Jesus & repenting of their sins...

      March 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  14. Joe

    Sure not the man his father was. He needs to read Matthew 15:18. But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart and makes a man unclean.

    February 29, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Saadik

      amen@joe. Franklin is no Billy. He is a man on a race to fame. If has to ride the Christianity train on his way to polityland, so be it.
      Daniel 5 25 MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
      Mathew 7:23 I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  15. GodsPeople

    Anyway I can't find my post from earlier it's buried somewhere. Someone was running around pretending to be me. I said, and I quote, "I know Obama's a muzzie (as in muslim), and I have no issue with that belief. I also know he's not a natural american citizen."

    @HawaiiGuest: Hawaii is a state. Nigeria isn't. Obama was born in Nigeria.

    February 29, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      He's provided every piece of proof asked of him. To think he was not born in Hawaii is plain partisan and idiotic.

      February 29, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And you wonder why people laugh at religious idiots like you and call you ignorant and delusional.

      Thanks for reinforcing my impression of nitwit Bible thumpers.

      Now go found a country that is run as a theocracy. This isn't it.

      February 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • GodsPeople

      It will be, h-o-e h-o-e, and then you'll fall. Fact is, however, Obama's "green form" was proven to be a fake. Do a google search once in a while people, instead of being media fed drones.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • RickinJP

      The country has moved on from this ridiculous theory. Believe what you want, but keep your ranting to yourself. Your argument is a tired, foolish one.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • Monty Boaconstrictor

      God's People must be mentally retarded or otherwise 'special' in some way.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Fact is, however, Obama's "green form" was proven to be a fake. " The State of Hawaii has announced that it stands behind that form. Their Republican governor said there was no problem with it and please stop making Republicans look dumb. Me, I never get tired of dumb-looking Republicans in an election year.

      March 1, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  16. Sereta Smith

    I don't think we should questions others and their faith in God. However, nothing was said that an apology was necessary.

    February 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Monty Boaconstrictor

      "nothing was said that an apology was necessary" That's no way for Billy Graham's son to talk. People were leaving his ministry and not giving him big wads of money any more. He was either going to have to get a Real Job, with regular hours and an expectation that he would be on time and productive, or repair the damage to his cushy ministry and get back to living high.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  17. TopView20

    Wow, give a christian a tv or media moment, and they immediately reveal the hate and judgemnet in their heart. Why do we continue to call various organizations "religious." Religion is a type of BUSINESS model in the USA. It has nothing to do with God or any other pretend friends. Grow up Graham. Talk like a man, not a back closet alter boy.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  18. M.K.Gil

    Franklin Graham seems to be pointing conversation to himself. Better he should read what the Bible says about too much presupposing. No one has the right to question someones faith less his own might be questioned. A bad mistake for Religion.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  19. Attila, The Hun

    Another Bible busting holy roller. Go back to the drive-in theatre and preach to your trailer trash congregation.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      This one should have been better than that. He had all the advantages. His dad was a giant. He's a hamster.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  20. Teresa

    Oh, @truth=Jesus. Now, we know you are a fake, just spending time writing bogus comments that you know will get people riled, becuase that is what you want. Your arguments are not based on love or charity, but hate, of liberals, the media and I don't know what else. Franklin Graham was wrong to question someone's faith and he apologised. Santorunm is the second coming of Christ? How dare you.

    February 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Truth=Jesus

      By the end of the day, there were at least ten of us being Truth=Jeebus. I think someone else did that one to enrage him/her/it. Maybe even Them. We're all bozos on this bus.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:57 am |
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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.