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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. mountain dude

    Why did Grahm surrender to Obama?

    – Newt Gingrich

    February 29, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  2. truesoy

    ...and why would religion be an issue for our form of government is secular, and religion should not be part of it.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Truth=Jesus

      it is a part of it like it or not, it a part of morals, war, value of life, etc. etc. etc. Why don't we just elect a Satanist then and they can sacrifice cats in the Whitehouse. Would that matter to you?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • GT

      Probably because our founders recognized that a government absent of religion or adherence to any moral authority above itself would lead to tyranny...

      Religion, morality, and knowledge ... [are] necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind – Northwest Ordinance of 1787

      February 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      TJ sez
      "it is a part of it like it or not, it a part of morals, war, value of life, etc. etc. etc. Why don't we just elect a Satanist then and they can sacrifice cats in the Whitehouse. Would that matter to you?"
      Satanist, christian, muslim, jew - they are all the same to an Atheist, unsubstanciated.
      Now if the president sacrifices cats in the Whitehouse, I absolutly care becaure he/she just broke the law. We have animal cruelty laws, created by the STATE (not religion), to protect them.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Kill The Wabbit

      *** Truth=Jesus

      it is a part of it like it or not, it a part of morals, war, .........

      Yup, true christian value "war".
      Coming from you it makes sense.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  3. James PDX

    Why would anyone be offended by having their Christiandom questioned? After all, the Christian Bible describes all kinds of injustice perpetrated by God and for God. I would consider it a compliment to my good judgment.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  4. phil,left of center

    Sounds like a real gem ..maybe the President should question Graham's faith? ..maybe the President should question Grahams patriotism and loyalty to his country? ..maybe the President should put his foot into Grahams back side? ..I know this christian would

    February 29, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Truth=Jesus

      What Bible you read?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Kill The Wabbit

      *** Truth=Jesus

      What Bible you read?
      ------------

      Not the same one you do.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  5. PEGGY GENTRY

    SHAME ON FRANKLIN GRAHAM OR ANYONE ELSE THAT WOULD MAKE A REMARK LIKE HE DIID ABOUT ANYONE BEING A CHRISTIAN.!!!!NONE OF US ARE QUALIFIED TO BE THAT JUDGE. GODI IS THE JUDGE NOT MAN. AS MUCH AS I LOVE THE PRECIOUS BLLY GRAHAM , HE COULD NOT NO WOULD NOT ATTEMPT TO SAY WHO IS A CHRISTIAN. FRANKLIN IS GOING TO MAKE A MARK ON HIS DADS WONDERFUL NAME IF HE OES NOT START ACTING LIKE A GODLY PERSON AND NOT A JUDGE. I AM SO GLAD WE DO NOT HAVE TO FACE GOD WITH ANYONES RECORD BUT OUR OWN.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Truth=Jesus

      OH PLEASE. The man was asked a question repeatedly and he answered it. They asked for it and they got it and they didn't deserve an apology at all!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Truth=Jesus

      If Obama is such a christian how come everything he does in office is for the most part in direct violation with the laws of God? You so called "Christians" are UNREAL! I would that you were either hot or cold, if you are lukewarm I will spew you out of my mouth! God is sickened by it!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Truth=Jesus

      The question was is Obama a Christian. A review of his fruit SCREAMS NO!!!!! The thing you need to remember is that Franklin is not making life and death decisions for us, Obama is. GOD HAVE MERCY!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • anagram_kid

      Truth= Jesus wrote, “…everything he does in office is for the most part in direct violation with the laws of God?” Typical hateful ignorant psudeo-Christian. No facts, just hyperbole and vitriol. And by the way, do you want laws based on the Bible? Should we bring back stoning? Have you ever disrespected your parents? If so, better get your affairs in order…

      February 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Kill The Wabbit

      I think god is sickened by you.

      Truth=Jesus

      If Obama is such a christian how come everything he does in office is for the most part in direct violation with the laws of God? You so called "Christians" are UNREAL! I would that you were either hot or cold, if you are lukewarm I will spew you out of my mouth! God is sickened by it!

      February 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Gonzo

      If Obama is such a christian how come everything he does in office is for the most part in direct violation with the laws of God?

      Please name them, or you are just bashing the president because you have an agenda.
      In fact, it is pretty clear you do have an agenda.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  6. JoJo

    Graham says: “I would support a Mormon or a Jew who supported the defense of marriage ...........”. Would you support an honest agnostic, who believes in the teachings of Jesus regarding peace and rejected the "Christian" Right's enthusiastic support for the unnecessary torture and mass murder in Iraq, in violation of Christian Just War Criteria?

    February 29, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Keith

      Probably not. He'd twist it into some variation on the theme of not trusting an atheist to be really telling the truth about their position.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  7. Jack in Florida

    It is so outrageous that these "christians" have the audacity to question the faith of our President. They are all racists, because it comes down to the color of Barack Obama's skin. They are such hypocrites!!! Besides, IT DOES NOT MATTER!!!! Remember, our founding fathers established our governement, SEPARATING.....church and state. ENOUGH ALREADY. Move on to the next subject you can find to try and discredit Obama.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  8. Brother Maynard

    To all believers that ask " Why does it bother you (Atheists) that we believe "
    This story is prime example of why I protest.
    A high ranking religious man doing harm to his fellow man for purely political reasons via the vehicle of religion in a country that has a clear established law on separation of church and state.
    This is where religion / belief poisons life

    February 29, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  9. moderate

    Last i heard, the only thing needed to be qualified a Christian is ' accepting Jesus as the son of god and as lord and savior'. Now people w/ political motives apparently claim the mantle of being the judge of who is / isn't a Christian. Makes you wonder what type of person they are in their church or community, that is.. if they go to church. To Graham I would ask, where in the bible does it state that people who's parent's were not Christian is less of Christian than who's parents were
    ?

    February 29, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • anagram_kid

      The teachings of Christ were not about accepting anything and he never acknowledge that he was the son of God. His message was about behavior – feed the poor, aid the sick, treat others as you would have them treat you… etc. Sadly, your comment is exactly what is wrong with Christianity; it is all about what people say they believe and the ideals of the behavior are completely lost.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  10. JC

    Your beliefs do not automatically make you a better person than your behavior.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  11. mary

    Hatred is so easy to spread rather than true Judeo/Christian values. President Obama has endured more disrespect than any president in my 72 year lifetime. He inherited a country on the precipice of economic hell and he is called a fascist? Do these people even understand what a Fascist is? I would feel sorry for you hateful people but unfortunately you idiots vote and thus you anger me. I will do my part make sure that President Obama returns to the Whitehouse and continues to work for the Middle Class who have been deluded by the Republican Party and the so called Christian Right these past 30 years.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • jimtanker

      Right on mary! Nail on the head.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • You are Right, The Right is Wrong

      Mary, would you marry me?

      February 29, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Tim

      Mary, you are an angel and your words are very well received by me.....thank you and much love from DC!

      February 29, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • GT

      You have a very short memory Mary. Do you not recall the vitriol spewed at GW Bush? Hitler, Fascist, Moron, War Criminal? No other president in my lifetime has been so supported and protected by the media than Obama.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Do Not Disassemble

      Well put Mary.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Kill The Wabbit

      ** No other president in my lifetime has been so supported and protected by the media than Obama.

      You have got to be freaking kidding me !
      Is that what Fox tells you ?

      February 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  12. mikeb

    According to Graham you have to be white to be Christian.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  13. Thinking7

    Obama may say he is a Christian. Actions speak louder than words. His actions are not Christian like. He opposed a right of conscience. He shoved a health care bill on us meanwhile signing an executive order, which was just a lie to make us think he would remove the health care mandate for all employers to provide insurance that includes birth control and abortafacients. He's lied over and over. That's what I see.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • jimtanker

      Right of concience? I must have missed that in the const.itution or the ammendments.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • jimtanker

      Oh, and this word "abortifacients" is just another made up problem from the right wing. Total BS. You, like so many others have no idea what you are talking about, just a parrot.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Andrew

      You have an incredibly narrow view, pin-hole-esque. Do you really think Jesus would have been against providing health care for 2 million plus poverty stricken humans. Methinks if you go to church then it's teachings are flying so far over your head that they must resemble a Boeing at cruising alt.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • MNTaxpayer

      Please cite the bible verse that says passing a health care plan is anti-christian.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Jean

      Do you see other politicians be more "Christian-like" in their behavior? I find President Obama more honest than most politicians.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • mikeb

      Jesus said help the poor. Republicans don't care too much for the poor. They care only for the wealthy, the types who cannot walk through the gates of heaven. It is said in the bible that it is easier for an elephant to walk through the eye of a needle than a wealthy man to walk through the gates of heaven. So Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, Perry ... none of these are going to the heaven described in the bible. But Obama has not only helped the poor he knows what poor is. And he is being persecuted for who he is. This is a true man of Christ.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Adam

      Oh, and I suppose you think a president who lies us into a war, cuts the effective tax rate for the wealthiest 1% to half of that of working Americans, and exposes an FBI agent and her husband (that's treason, by the way) IS a Christian?? Put down your crack-pipe, and read your Bible with a sober mind, not through the dark lenses of whatever neo-fascist evangelical Bible thumber you're listening to.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • MNTaxpayer

      I appologize if I offend anyone by saying that I chose to ignore anything this man says.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • moderate

      So Christians are against Universal Healthcare now? Tell more.. please. WWJD

      February 29, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • WRONG OREILLY BRAIN

      Santorum is so Christ-like in his insults and jeers. Ditto Gingrich. Romney's not even a Christian, so I guess he's Mormon-like. You need to get your head out of Faux News' hindquarters. I will support your right to no health care you don't pay for first.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • GT

      Jesus came to change hearts, not society & governments. As Christians we have an obligation to "...care for widows & orphans." But, this should be done of our own volition, not through coercion and threat of imprisonment. This is why, as an evangelical and a Christian, I choose to give 10% of my income to charity. I am also a conservative Republican. If that defines me as selfish and greedy by some, so be it.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Jack in Florida

      Our government was set up to keep the Church and the State separate. One can not legislate morality. Government decisions are made for ALL people, not just Christians.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Kill The Wabbit

      Tea party propaganda works.
      How sad for you.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 29, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  15. WachetAuf

    Mr. Graham,

    Your apology is not accepted by me. It is too equivocal and tepid for a man of God. It gives you too much room to appeal to your base of followers who need demons to promote their "faith".

    Let's make this perfectly clear:

    1. You claim to be a follower of Jesus' teaching.

    2. Jesus spent all of his ministry teaching you to treat your neighbor in the same way that you would want to be treated; invited you to take notice of the plank in your eye, not to cast the first stione, to turn the other cheek.

    3. Jesus invited you to be "born again". That is, he made it clear that human beings have two natures, a primitive impulsive instinctive nature and a higher reasoning nature. It is the higher reasoning nature that he asked you to utilize, not your primitive impulsive nature: again, turning the other cheek, etc, all of which requires the use of your higher reasoning abilities.

    4. You, and most so called followers of Jesus' teachings, continue to act impulsively with your primitive animal nature. You never stop to think about the plank in your own eye.

    5. You act out of your primitive nature because it allows you to easily capture "souls" and money for your ministries and provides you with the "narcissistc supply" which you emtotionally need to comfort your primitive animal ego.

    6. You understand very well that your followers will not, because they are not "born again", follow you if you try to engage them in the higher reasoning which Jesus invited you to utilize. Jesus, himself, was so very concerned about the "flocks" ability to reason that he resorted to the use of metaphors in hopes that they might understand. They have not. You have not.

    7. Your followers utilize only their primnitive animal natures. They live every day of their lives in fear, in poverty, have only been taught that if the "just believe" they will go to heaven and be with Jesus – a deliberate distraction away from Jesus' real teachings. They are more easiliy led if they focus on this fear of going to hell.

    8. You like Mr. Romney and Mr. Hitler (I do not believe you are a Hitler only pointing out that the most imfamous dictators understood the primitive natures and how to take advantage) fully understand that you will succeed in capturing converts only if you appeal to their primitive fears.

    9. You need to take a hard look at yourself, maybe consult a psychologist to help you understand what moves you. Maybe then you will come closer to being "born again". (I make no judgment – I only point to the evidence) I have seen you resort to your primitive animal nature too many times to believe that you have ever fully understood Jesus' teachings.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • jimtanker

      You are speaking from the mistaken delusion that jesus was real. There is NO evidence that this person ever existed or that anything attributed to him ever happend. All fiction.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • CHRISTMASGURL

      MAN, I THINK I LOVE YOU

      February 29, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • CHRISTMASGURL

      I'M TALKING TO YOU WachetAuf

      February 29, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Tim

      If only Graham or someone from his camp could actually read this. You Rock!!!!

      February 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • WachetAuf

      Jim:

      I am sympathetic to your view. I, like most other persons who attempt to engage in some kind of ojbective reasoning process, have great doubt about the "mystical" elements of all religion. However, the Bible is a great source for fundamental truths whether or not you "believe" in the reality of resurrection, everlasting life or whether Jesus was God incarnate. In support of your own disbelief, Jesus himself used metaphors to speak to his flock (the parables). Jesus' own words therefore add to my own doubt about the "reality" about which you speak. If Jesus used metaphors so very often, it may be some evidence that the entire story is a metaphor. I agree with you that there are people who are delusional. That is why Mr. Graham is able to control their minds so easily. You and I will never reach them with our messages. You have reached me. But, again, I do accept the teachings of the Bible in so far as it has some great lessons about how we must behave toward one another. That message is being lost because of the focus entirely on the mystical elements.

      February 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  16. Lee

    Has he apologized to the Mormons for bringing up the "they are not really Christian" line? I think his father would be disappointed about this. Billy Graham and J. Willard Marriott (the Mormon hotel magnate) worked together closely to help Republicans like Nixon, and together were an early force in getting social issues on the party's agenda. To hear this kind of story brings to mind the phrase "thanks for nothing".

    February 29, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  17. MaxNatoma

    Typical of these right-wingers; they make these outlandish, incendiary statements, designed to rev up their base, then quietly apologize when they are called out by rational people.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  18. dub

    truth=jesus why dont you take you opinion and your bible and go crawl under a rock your just as bad as franklin

    February 29, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  19. Brother Man from the 5th Floor

    Franklin Graham is nothing more than a simpleton who did not take the same view with Dubya when he was starting wars of convenience. He is a hypocrite!

    February 29, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  20. omegarising

    No one has to wonder about Barry's faith. He demonstrates it on a daily basis with his fascist policies. He's a global banking elite puppet, he's a liar and deceiver.

    February 29, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • The REAL Truth

      Hark.. I hear the rhythmic chirping of the cricket right [again!].. chirp, chirp, chirp.
      It never changes...

      February 29, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • WRONG OREILLY BRAIN

      HE's a global banking puppet? BUSH setup bailouts...and by the way, unfortunately they were necessary...you wouldn't like a depression. Listen to your republicans...they lie and create "facts."

      February 29, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Kill The Wabbit

      Fascist ?

      Wait a minute, last week he was a socialist.
      The week before that he was a communist.

      You people gotta get your lies straight.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:04 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.