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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. DMR

    Franklin Graham apologizes only after he did not get the warm fuzzy support he expected. It is time for him to crawl back under his rock.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  2. Carol

    He made a huge mistake for a so-called person of faith. He is certainly not like his father.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Russell G.

      I Agree! I never heard his father say a bad thing about anyone...ever. I read his statement, it was the sleezy way he suggested that Obama wasn't Christian, just like a dishonest politician would. At least he's apoligizing for it, i wonder if his father wasn't behind his apoligy

      February 29, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  3. TM

    The ONLY thing this "Reverend" shares with his father is a last name. His blatant ignorance of his own religion, to say nothing of another religion is staggering. Obama is NOT and NEVER WAS a "son of Islam" by ANY INTERPRETATION of their laws or customs. Graham knowingly and deliberately bore "false witness" against another. He must do more than simply apologize. Until he properly atones for this sin, he should not speak publicly on this or any other matter of faith.

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

      He also shares a fanatic devotion to irational belief in the supernatural.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Truth=Jesus

      the mistake was apologizing. The man actively supports abortion, sodomy, murder, idolatry etc. etc. etc. all things God hates. That is not repentance.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  4. canuk100

    it is disappointing to watch a country as great as yours formed on a basis of separation of church and state, slide so far backward into the abyss of religious ethos in politics... if your society fails it will be because of this more than any other reason... to have come so far, and then fall to decline would be a shame...

    February 29, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Janine from TX

      I couldn't agree with you more! It's embarrassing what these religious zealots have done to America. It's as if we have been cast into a time warp. Can't we please keep religion out of politics and law-making? Do not support theocratic-leaning candidates!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • SEShortill

      I have never seen my frustration with electoral process in my country described so well..you hit the nail right on the head.

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

      Yea, it's been so rough for our country. Being so meager and poor like it is.

      You're a dumb @zz. We didnt get here by being religious zealots, we got here becasue of the fact that we dont let silly fairy tales hold us back.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  5. Unbelievable

    When will you religious people understand that it is perfectly OK, and even legal, for people to have different beliefs? NONE of you have the right to judge anyone. It even says so in your bible. You are welcome to the table, but please enjoy a giant helping of STFU.....

    February 29, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Truth=Jesus

      Then I guess the media should stop asking if they don't want the answer.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Irony

      One of your fingers points at others while three more of your fingers point back at you; you're a judger are you not?

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

      So, Truth=Jesus, nice way of judging people. Read your bible, please.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Dance This Mess Around

      Truth=Jesus

      I have been reading post after post after post from you.
      If Jesus was here right now he would probably smack you on your head
      and ask you what part of his message didnt you get.

      You are so far the biggest hypocrit i have seen posting.
      Do us all a favor.............................S T F U !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      February 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  6. NotAGrahamFan

    This Graham needs to develope some wisdom about how to answer such tricksy questions as "what do you think about so-and-so". "He's a fine man" is a great way to start a response about most presidents.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  7. John Ross

    I would like to apologize for all the stupid apologies....

    February 29, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  8. 1st

    @hippypoet, Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descended not from above, but is earthly, sensual & devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. Wisdom isn't given to speak, but to act wisely. People it's best to try and be as righteous as humanly possible being the flesh we are, from Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David & Jesus etc, were all righteous not religious men of God. And in regards to having a chosen people, did the LORD not tell Cain if he were to do right would he not be accepted. It's all on the individual in most cases. For throughout the Book the devilish were an abomination to the righteous.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  9. sbn888

    Learn to coexist. Stop war.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  10. SKC_ID

    Evangelicals are all the same. If you are not one of them, you face eternal damnation. Period. What a crock!
    And, karek40 ... no one needs to ask our President anything. What he believes is HIS business!

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

      People who say others in a group are all the same are all the same.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Doug

      Me thinks, its now his way out to support a Morman.. Nothing against voting for a Morman, but it his way to validate to keep his bit of name as the leader for evangelicals..

      February 29, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Joe B.

      Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Edwin

      Well said, Irony!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  11. Lar S

    He said it, he meant it, he can't take it back!

    February 29, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  12. So What

    Why do chrisitans feel the need to pick religious leaders? Isn't the whole point of christianity to apporint Christ as the leader? The fact that Mr Graham is the son of another self appointed leader makes him just as phoney as his father. I for
    one don't care what Obama believes, as long as he keeps leading us in the right direction. Gay marriage and abortion will not destroy our nation, but spending all our time making those things the main topic will.

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

    Frankie boy just needs to stop embarrassing himself

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

    By the way, the Founders' were not Christian. They were deist. Please find me one sliver of writing from the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison in which they proclaim their love for Jesus Christ. Post here when you do. Yes, they believed in God, but they did not worship Jesus Christ and they certainly did not share the beliefs of today's radical American Christians. Not by a long shot. Please. Anyone. Find a link to anything from one of these men that even remotely suggests they were followers of Jesus and post it here.

    And try to stay honest. I know it's hard for some of the more extreme zealots in these forums, but at least give it a try.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • J.C.

      Still waiting to see if anybody responds...

      February 29, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Independent_me

      @ kurtinco

      You are absolutely correct! And on top of that Thomas Jesserson used the Muslim holy book – the Koran – to be sworn in!
      Graham and his ilk are Christians in name only (CINO) – they do not live the Christ way. Christ said that you'll know that people are His followers (Christians) by their love...but they only exhibit hate and intolerance – so who are they really following?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  15. Rocky

    When so called "faith leaders" attacked President Bill Clinton during his adulterous affair (while he was busy upstairs signing the Defense of Marriage Act) DOMA, the NAACP did not feel the need to defend him at all. Now we have another President who spent 9 months in the womb of a white woman (as did Clinton) and suddenly they feel the need to defend a "black president"? So they only speak up when someone who looks like them is criticized? Interesting..How completely racist!

    February 29, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Edwin

      Umm... they attacked Clinton for his affair, not for his religion... kind of a big difference.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Independent_me

      @ Rocky

      Soory, Bud – you are waaaay off base! Clinton was attacked for lying about his affair and for the affair itself. No one ever questioned his faith, or that of any Presidernt until Obama. The attacks on Obama's faith begain from the moment he decided to run – they used his name as an excuse to say he was a Muslim. Where have you been – or are you choosing to ignore the facts liker Republicans generally do???

      February 29, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  16. Michael Hansen

    Jesus, save me from your followers. What ever happened to the concept of Christian love?

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

      Large organizations gain power. And power corrupts. Eventually the corruption starts to fit like a comfortable glove.

      Don't look for christian values from people in power. If you want to see real values, look elsewhere. Some churches are fully corrupt, some are partly corrupt, but some still teach love and compassion and help for the unfortunate and poor. They still follow the teachings of Jesus.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • mikaman3000

      It's still there Mr. Hansen, always has been and always will be, unfortunately some people only see what they want to see. But you go ahead and bash on Christians because that's the popular thing to do these days, but all you do is expose your own biases towards those of faith. Your really no different than a Klan member who hates based on the color of skin.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Edwin

      Milkaman: your comment was hostile AND incorrect. Every *decent* christian I know (by decent I mean they don't actively condemn others, they help the poor and sick - even if not related to them, etc.) is embarrassed to be called christian nowadays.

      They see it almost as an insult, because they know about the millions of so-called christians in America who judge others by political affiliation, by income, by race, who only help people who are similar to themselves, who only befriend non-christians when it helps them or if they see an opportunity to convert, etc. - in short, the millions upon millions of Americans who call themselves christians yet do not even attempt to follow the teachings of Jesus.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Independent_me

      @Michael Hansen

      That is exactly why I changed from a Republican to an Independent! And that is exactly why I have dropped out of organized religion! They are not true Christians – they lie, they cheat, they rob the poor and give to the rich, they slander while waving the Bible and thr Flag! Yes...Jesus save me – and the country! – from these wolves in sheep's clothing!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  17. independent167

    My Bible has always said "Judge not, that ye be not judged." What Bible has Franklin been reading? How is he (or anyone else) qualified to pass judgment on another's religion? Also, Franklin should know that Obama's father's and grandfather's being Muslim does not make Barack a Muslim, any more than my parents and grandparents Christianity makes me a Christian. It's a matter of individual choice, and Barack has clearly chosen Christian over Muslim.

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

      Most Americans who call themselves christian consider judging others a useful and important part of religion. Forget that Jesus called it a no-no: modern American christianity is not really about the teachings of Jesus.

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

      @independent167

      And, on top of that, if Muslims recognized Obama as a Muslim, they would issue a fatwa against him and try to kill him because they would consider it blasphemy for him to say he is a Christian and not a mulsim.... These so-called Christians are so STUPID!!!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  18. Saboth

    A better question is...who gives a crap? If you are basing your candidate choice off of their religious views, something is wrong with you.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 29, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • J.W

      I saw this name on the side of the screen and the suspense was killing me. I could not wait to see what they had to say.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Janine from TX

      No, actions change things....not sitting around and praying.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • J.C.

      Studies have shown that prayer (like deep meditation and some other mental relaxation techniques) does cause the mind and body to enter into a relaxed state beneficial to the overall health of the individual. Lower blood pressure, eased tension, etc. Other than that, it has never been proven to do anything external to the human organism.

      My children will have approximately 1/7th greater life experiences because they won't be wasting a day trying to commune with a non-existent all-powerful being with pathological tendencies, if you base his existence on what you read in the various religious texts some men (no women) wrote several thousand years ago.

      I said "Good day!"

      February 29, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  20. JF

    Bigotry smells bad, especially from the pulpit.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Independent_me

      @ JF

      The Christian Bible says that as a man thinks in his heart, that is what he is. The hatred and lies that come out of the mouths of these "Christians" show that that is what they are inside...from Palin, Bachman, Hannity, Santorum, to Graham. They do not know the Christ, therefore their father is not the same father as the Chrost's. They have nothing to do with the Christ...except to use His name for their own purposes... They all have one father, and he has been a liar from the start. Read the Gospel of John and you will see this clearly. Jesus was a Liberal – not a Conservative. He gave freely grace to all...He gave healthcare to all who came asking. He did not discriminate. He did not prequalify...

      February 29, 2012 at 11:39 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.