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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. kurtinco

    The only reason this dufuss has an audience at all is because of the work his father did before him. He is a disgrace to his fathers memory. It's funny how he can make proclamations which call into question President Obama's faith publicly and in front of cameras, but can only bring himself to release a written statement of regret when people of his own faith balk at his idiocy. I wish he would just go away.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  2. TellItLike It Is

    I hate it that Franklon caved in to the pressure of the hypocritical and corrupt voices behind the National Baptist Convention of America / USA ! If one examines the history of many of the leaders of these organizations, one would also have to question the so-called Christian values of these pseudo-religious mentors and scolars. And for Tim ~ harping about missing fathers of GOP'er's – – the one without any father influence was the "BIG O", now occupying the post like an empty suit ! And for the record – – he stated himself, He is a muslim, It's on tape ! Google it !

    February 29, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  3. kerri

    I thought that the foundation of Christianity was to LOVE everyone and let God judge.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Andrew

      To some perhaps, for most it is about strengthening the feeling of "moral superiority" they feel so compelled to elevate.

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

      Christianity, Yes. Christians, no.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  4. ThatsIt21

    It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where the dentist converted to Judaism for the jokes; except this is for the votes.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  5. Mike in Green Bay

    Franklin - shame on you! Your father taught you to respect people of all backgrounds. You dishonor him with this type of conduct!

    February 29, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  6. scriss

    Why is this clown even in the news?

    February 29, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  7. MITT ROMNEY

    Then perhaps if it is a sin or a crime to be Muslim or to have Muslim heritage, then why isn't the Unites States rounding up millions of Muslim-Americans all across this country and detaining them and trying them for being Muslim? If it is a crime to be a Muslim-American, then should I tell my local police that Muslim-Americans reside on my street and in my neighborhood?

    February 29, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  8. Ed Peters

    OK, it only took him a week to extract his foot from his mouth. But how long will it take for him to become decent human being? i.e. non-hypocrite!

    February 29, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  9. John Riggs

    I listened to the interview on MSNBC. I agreed with Franklin G. The President joined a Church because it was a requirement for his job in the community in Chicago. This doesn't make him a Christian. The President has never said when he gave his heart to the Lord. Ask any Christian when they were saved and they can give you a date.
    The President himself has said he never listened while in Church, he never heard the things Rev. Wright said.
    Get a grip... this guy is not saved! Pray for him, I do.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • MALEA

      John Riggs, How can you say the president is not a christian, and want people to believe you, but when the president himself say he's a christian your holier than tho self say he's not, and pray for him. No pray for yourself to accept peoples confession to being a christian. The right wing repub's get me with this nobody but them know the Lord/God.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Ron

      Whats makes one a Christian? The Christian religion has been converting Muslims, Atheists, Aminalists and any other 'Non believer' for thousands of years now. I thought that the premise is that once one accepts Christ as your savior them you are a Christian, regardless of your background. So if that is correct and if Obama's father or even Obama himself was a Muslim, the fact that he has accepted Christ, according to Christianity, He is a CHRISTIAN.

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

      *** The President has never said when he gave his heart to the Lord. Ask any Christian when they were saved and they can give you a date.

      That would be between the President and the lord,
      that is NONE of your business.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • noly972

      "The President has never said when he gave his heart to the Lord. Ask any Christian when they were saved and they can give you a date."

      Just because you and those of your ilk feel the need to brag about your Christianity (like the Pharisees) doesn't mean that all other Christians are required to act in your un-Christian manner. You feel that God has granted you the right to judge others based upon your perceived righteousness. You're a failure as a person and a Christian.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  10. AmericanSam

    These leaders sneakily put these things out in public and apologize for them over and over all the while knowing what effect it is having on their scared followers. They'll never say out loud, "Obama is a Christian with a crazy preacher, a Muslim, and an atheist all at the same time!" or that "Obama is a socialist hellbent on crashing our economy!" Instead, they'll simply hint at it, apologize for hinting at it, and do nothing when the crazy people take over the message. It's a cheap way of trying to win an election, and it's wrong. Democracy doesn't work if you don't tell the truth.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  11. grasshopper

    The republicans complain that Obama has staged a war against religion, not true. If people are wondering why religion is much less popular with young adults today than a before, they only need to see people who promote religion today. They appear as racist, blabbering idiots, against women's rights to her own body under the guise of religion, hatred against gays and other distasteful expressions. It appears that these religious leaders really get there hatred on against people they don't like....and that's really unappealing.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • MIKE then .

      I was thinking the same thing before I read the posts. I agree with you 100% These slime balls will say anything to stir up their mindless followers, then after the damage is already done, they apologize!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  12. anchorite

    Because your father and grandfather were Muslim doesn't make you Muslim. First of all, Obama basically had no father to raise him so even if that was true it wouldn't be true in this case. Second, it's saying the Shahada that makes one a Muslim. Islam is not like Judaism it is like Christianity, anyone of any ethnic stock or family is welcome, it is not by lineage.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • talshar

      He took a shot and pandering to racism and just disgraced himself instead.

      Usually when GOP resorts to racism, they just double down on it, because it's all they have to begin with.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  13. Jerry

    The president's ways must be really contagious. Mr. Graham, why apologize for speaking the truth?

    Just asking?!

    February 29, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • paul

      Because he wasn't.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  14. Analystgirl

    Franklin Graham is an enormous a$$hat. He tarnishes his father's legacy.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • paul

      By not lying?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  15. karek40

    Muslims believe that Jesus the son of Mary was a prophet and nothing more, someone needs to ask the president if he believes Jesus was the son of God.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • paul

      Who cares. There are bigger issues at hand.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • a non christian

      WHY? What difference does it make?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Agnostic_American

      Why must anyone prove they are a Christian? This is America, folks – Home of the free! I served 20 years in the military supporting this basic freedom. Vote on the man's values and political agenda.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Dance This Mess Around

      Freaking Christians.....

      The presidents beliefs are NONE of your business.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  16. ITELLYOUWHAT

    apple doesn't fall far from the tree

    February 29, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  17. c

    I'm a Christian and my kids and I pray for Obama and his family every day. He says he is a Christian, he just has a funny way of showing it. But, it is not us to judge his eternity. We can only judge his behavior. Most Christians I know, do not support late term abortions or watch Modern Family with their 10 year old daughters, But that does not mean he is not a Christian

    February 29, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Scott Samson

      HAHAHHAHAHAH. foxnews.com is thataway, Grand Dragon.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  18. omegarising

    Franklin should not be apologizing for pointing out the obvious. If it smells like a pig and oinks like a pig, it's a pig.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • scott501

      What kind of American would say that about your Commander in Chief? You are not patriotic

      February 29, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • talshar

      Racist pig is an apt description of what you are.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • sbn888

      Could the same be said about you and your beliefs? Learn to coexist.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • sbn888

      The President of the United States deserves some respect. Leave your hate at the pulpit for those who want to hear it. I think our President has done a fine job. Soldiers have come home, Obama is dead and I feel a bit safer because of it. Evangelicals should practice what they preach as far as respect goes. How can you teach your children to respect their schoolmates when you don't even respect the elected leader of our country?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • MALEA

      Omegitrising, if it smells like a Racist pig, Oinks like a Racist pig, it is a Racist PIG! That's what you smell , and Oink like!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Dance This Mess Around

      Typical christian response.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  19. Kurt Kammeyer

    This is just swell. Mr. Obama's rather fuzzy religious background now qualifies him as a Christian, apparently. Will Mr. Graham now apologize to Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) for saying that they are not "Christian"? I'm not holding my breath.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • PaulCV

      I don't think bigoted, hate filled, racist remarks about the President qualifies as Christian behavior. Do you honestly believe Jesus Christ would behave in the same way as many Professed Christinas behave?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  20. Jim (retired AF colonel)

    He certainly does not carry on the bipartisanship of his father. His father also wasn't a bigot.

    February 29, 2012 at 10:57 am |
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About this blog

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.