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

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soundoff (785 Responses)
  1. richunix

    I’ve been more interesting in the story that they may have found “JESUS” tomb (with burial crypts inside). I can see why the “Church” has asked the Israel gov’t to stop the dig (for now). Yup, would that put a damper on the Christian belief if true, in fact that would end the belief period….The truth is catching up to yea…John, Paul and Peter…what new story will they spin….Maybe the earth was only created in 5 days….

    Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    Atheism is not a religion nor is it a belief.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Denis

      Surely you are aware that the "archeologists" who "found" the purported tomb of Jesus are showmen and not legitimate archeologists. The Israeli government shut down the "program" because the TV production is a hoax and a fraud. The historical evidence is overwhelming that the tomb of Jesus is inside the Church of the Holy Seplucher in what was "outside the wall" of Jerusalem in the time of Jesus.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Dance This Mess Around

      Doesnt matter if it is Jesus' body.

      They will just say Jesus was ressurected, he just left the body behind.
      Story covered.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  2. n

    Religion is what messes everything up! Plus the holier than thou's that go with it.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • steelerguin

      Actually, the lack of faith and god-less people have messed this country up. It's all a matter of perspective,n.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Rodney

      That is an ignorant, over-generalized comment. This article has nothing to do with religion "messing" anything up. People like you jump on any random opportunity to justify the warped state of unbelief.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  3. Bill

    You know Billy Grahm once dabbled in politics with Richard Nixon, I think we all know how that went. Likewise, it is completely ignorant and irresponsible for Franklin to enter into this fray like this. Rather than trying to pander to the extremist right he needs to act like the salt and light of the world for ALL believers. The word "Conservative" and "Christian" are mutually exclusive of each other and an oxymoron.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  4. lolarites

    What brought this on, a drop in contributions this week? I'll never forget being glued to the TV three states away after Katrina looking for any kind of info and seeing this clown telling the world the reason New Orleans was hit was because there was too much sodomy going on there.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  5. EatYouAlive

    I just cannot wait for the real republican candidates to start... What?

    February 29, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  6. boocat

    This guy is just another hypocrite calling himself "christian." Consider the source and move on.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  7. Tex71

    Watch all the FOXheads start slamming Graham now for being weak and apologizing.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Nick

      I was thinking the same thing!

      February 29, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  8. Ahmed

    Just to correct Mr. Graham's understanding of Islam, there is no generally accepted "Islamic Law" in practice. Therefore his claims that "Islamic Law" dictates that Obama be considered a muslim on account of his father is an absurd remark that betrays his bogus pretensions to knowledge of Islam. What primarly distinguishes "Shariah Law" from laws actually in place in any muslim country today is WHO (i.e. the elected representatives of the people or the religious priesthood) defines the law.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Saltio

      Franklin Graham, the CHARLATAN, is portraying himself as an expert on Islamic law – Sharia law The problem is that people that are exposed to this quackery – really believe what he says. At first, I thought it was Santorum who was giving his virtual dogma but then I realized that it was this hoaxer television evangelist. Guess money was involved

      February 29, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  9. filthburger

    Jesus is my gardener.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Dance This Mess Around

      Jesus sells me weed.
      Its great weed.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  10. Albert Alligator

    He hasn't harmed America, just Franklin Graham. Too little, too late. An insincere apology with a gun to your head is worse than the original and unChristian lie he told. The apple fell a long, long way from the tree, and then it rolled downhill, fermented and went rotten.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  11. runner15

    Too bad Franklin Graham lacks the diplomacy his father had. I question what God he worships, given his hateful undertoned rhetoric.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Mike K

      Billy Graham knew that to have any kind of meaningful results in his ministry he had to avoid partisan politics like the plague. His arrogant son never learned that, although he can't help but have seen the truth in it. That makes me believe that his focus is political and not on spreading God's Word. If I were Billy I would weep that this is what has become of the ministry in which he's spent his life, in reaching out to everyone and not judging anyone.

      Billy is concerned about the state of your and my souls. Franklin is concerned with politics, which, no matter which side he's on, automatically turns off half of the people who hear him. Sad state of affairs.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  12. Nancy M. B.

    Anyone who rejects the concept of a woman's right to choose is a disgrace - and that includes the Grahams, pere et fils.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • steelerguin

      You can also say anyone who commits murder by having an abortion is a disgrace as well.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • boocat

      Hey steelerguin....abortion is legal in this country. I don't see you or any of your fellow "christians" offering to take in these unwanted children. And I'll bet your pro-war and pro-death penalty, too....another hypocrite.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • steelerguin

      Be careful of blanket statements. People will also say that anyone who has an abortion commits murder and that is worse than a disgrace.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • steelerguin

      Boocat, how do you know if I have or have not adopted a child. Also, I am not pro death penalty ,and "pro war" or "anti war" is too ambiguous a statement given the complexity of the concept. I am not for "all" wars.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  13. tim

    George Romney–Mitt
    George H W Bush– Junior Dubya
    Ron Paul–Rand
    Billy Graham–Franklin
    Maybe these dads weren't around home enough, or character skips a generation...

    February 29, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • mike b

      Good point.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Dance This Mess Around

      You have to have character in order to pass it to your children.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  14. SanAntonioBuckeye

    Obama is a Christian. He attends and worships in a church in DC that is an extension of the church his family attended and worshiped in Illinois. Just because his name has resemblance to Muslim, and Islam - did anyone assume Bush had ties to idiot savants, when he spoke and acted as he did??

    February 29, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • GDW

      Just idiots–not savants.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Albert Alligator

      I assumed Bush was English because of his English name and that therefore he would be an Epicopalian. I still believe that and no one can ever change my mind. Why can't we have a president with an American name like Big Bull or Mankiller?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  15. Jopus

    Everything word from Franklin Graham's mouth is double talk. Words that disavow the belief and intent of the mind that creates them. However you know or define religion, a mind like that is known as evil.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • CallingBS

      He wants to run for president...and have slick Rick as a running partner.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  16. tim

    This is the usual GOP MO. Say something hateful enough to incite violence and then walk it back the next day or a few days later after the damage is done. Watch a little closer– it happens every single day.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  17. jboh

    He's just like "W". Doesn't amount to a pimple on daddy's backside.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Dance This Mess Around

      That pimple did an awful lot of damage.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  18. judith

    This religious bigot is a disgrace. He certainly in no way reflects the Jesus Christ I believe in.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Rodney

      How is he a bigot? Nothing in this article implies he is a bigot. I don't see any wrongdoing by him in this article other than maybe a lack of clarity in his comments.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Albert Alligator

      'Nothing in this article implies he is a bigot' The article is very gracious and he deserves credit and attention for his belated and forced apology. Nevertheless, he's a bigot.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Tim

      I'm in total agreement with you Judith. We typically do not say things unless we mean them and Billy certainly did. He got caught, again and having to give a so-called apology. And to Rodney, the right and the christian right cannot use such blatant words (some have) as the "n" word. So, they use the next best thing to get to people, such as yourself, to say the President is a Muslim and not christian. It's been going on from day one!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Rodney

      I think it's unfair of you to generalize conservative christians as racists. Christianity has nothing to do with this. If he is a bigot, then you should leave the christian religion out of this.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Albert Alligator

      "I think it's unfair of you to generalize conservative christians as racists. Christianity has nothing to do with this. If he is a bigot, then you should leave the christian religion out of this." Nobody but you said conservative christians are racists. He said Graham was one, which we all agree with. How can Christianity have nothing to do with an article about a Christian minister who said the President was "no kind of Christian he recognized?" Sorry, just another Conservative Christian bigot having to eat his words.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  19. Hasa Diga Eebowai

    American Taliban at it again

    February 29, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Jimmy C

      I heard someone use the term "talibangelists" the other day. Thought it was pretty brilliant.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  20. Mark

    If Graham ever had any credibility as a Christian spokeman he lost it many times over this political season. His endorsements of Trump and Gingrich and all the lies he tells show his lack of integrity and complete stupidity.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • steelerguin

      Christianity is divisive. It even says so in the Bible. The reason it is divisive is because it is the truth. I support Franklin Graham wholeheartedly and his right to give his opinions. If you don't like what he says, don't listen to him.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Hahahah... "it is the truth".. because 1,000 years ago Rome ruled Europe. If any other civilization took over europe you would be saying something else is "the truth"

      February 29, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Albert Alligator

      "If you don't like what he says, don't listen to him." He is a public figure who made public statements attacking the President. Since he is a public figure, we are allowed to say that he is a fraud who uses God the way a pedophile uses candy.

      February 29, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • boocat

      Hey Steelerguin....it's the 21st century....wish you were here....and if the roles were reversed you'd be whining and complaining about how Obama trashed a "christian."

      February 29, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Dance This Mess Around


      Christianity is divisive. It even says so in the Bible. The reason it is divisive is because it is a lie.

      Fixed that for ya free of charge.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
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