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. East of Eden

    Worry about your own faith Mr. Graham. We all have issues we are battling with. Worrying about the next man or woman's faith wont help you on the day of visitation.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  2. GeorgeBos95

    I believe ... Graham is a twit.

    And that Presidents (and all other elected officials) check their religion at the door. When they're on-duty, they are "off-religion".

    February 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  3. Logan

    I believe in magic too! Can I be President?!

    February 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Well you certainly fit one of the criteria

      February 29, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • anagram_kid

      Well you have to believe in the correct magic. Specifically the correct interpretation of a translation of a translation of a translation of an ancient book of largely borrowed myths written for a specific geographic culture.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  4. Howard

    Say Yeehhhhhsssss!

    February 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  5. MikePie

    I'll sit back a wait to hear the news about this looser...he's either molested someone or has a second wife somewhere in the Middle East

    February 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Albert Alligator

      "I'll sit back a wait to hear the news about this looser." Since he said the president wasn't Christian, there hasn't been much news. It ended his career. Now he'd like it back, but it's gone.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  6. thes33k3r

    It's tragically funny to watch deluded religious people arguing with each other about who is and isn't a real Xtian. Time to grow up people. The world is moving on...with or without you.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  7. The MagusNYC.

    Could we clear up this confusion. When 97% of Mormons claim to be "christians," they do not mean that in the same sense that Catholics and Protestants mean it. Although Mormon.org does not help clarify the distinctions, the position of the Mormon church is that early christianity went astray and God sent Moroni to Joseph Smith to correct the error. Use of the same terms, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit only serve to confuse the issue, since none of these have anything in common with the Christian views. And as a created spirit, Jesus could not wipe away all our sins, so the Mormon Church requires a host of additional works to gain their version of "salvation," again, a term having little in common with the Christian concept of salvation by grace alone. http://www.irr.org

    February 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      If you worship christ your a christian.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm |

    wow , the united states is such a racist country , so only a christian can be a president ? where is the great us gone and its freedom of religion ? and after all this talk you expect muslims to even like you ?

    February 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      Please note the the GOP is open to having a candidate whose religion rejects traditional Christianity; with their Joseph Smith having been sent by God, just as claimed by Mohammed, to correct the misunderstandings concerning the divinity of Jesus Christ. Thus, Mormonism has more in common with Islam than with Protestantism and Catholicism. Note that non-Christian Mormons have been prominent as governors and in Congress, including the current speaker of the House. Note also that all the Supreme Court Justices used to be Protestant, and today none are. Where else on earth do you find such openness!!!

      February 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  9. Liz

    Obama is a highly principled person, in my opinion, and the way in which many in this country personally denigrate and belittle the president (and his wife) is truly sickening. Franklin Graham's comment said far more about him than it did about Obama.

    I may not like many of Obama's policies and failed promises - actually, I do not and I did not vote for him - but I hold him in very high regard as a man who tends to speak well of other people (yes, he's said some careless things occasionally, but only occasionally), who clearly loves and respects his family, who tries to take the high road in dealings with others.

    Never ever have I heard him discredit someone else's religious beliefs nor question them.

    When I vote I will vote for a grown-up, and party affiliation will matter less to me than this quality of maturity.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  10. fred

    "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."

    I usually give the conservtive crew a hard time for their vile nature, but I also see truth as truth, fair is fair. While it canot be said what thoughts reside in Graham's mind, the statement above is nothing more than a presentation of fact. It is in no way an implication of Obama's beliefs or values, only the facts as pertaining to sharia laws.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • clarke

      Well, it is not always the way it works. Obama was raised by his mother then his Grandmother. Or did we forget that, I guess we did.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • The MagusNYC.

      but does this not make one an apostate, subject to extreme penalty?

      February 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      That's right, Fred. And according to Talmudic law, the child of a Jewish mother is always a Jew. Even if the child is born of a mixed marriage between a Catholic man and a Jewish woman, and the child is baptized, and receives the sacraments, even Holy Orders. According to Talmudic law, that person is a Jew and cannot be denied Israeli Citizenship. Why do I mention this? Because there are probably more than a few politicians out there who fall into this category, and I am certain that some of them declare themselves to be Christians. Well based on Rev. Graham's criteria for Muslims, the same would apply to Jews.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • The REAL Truth

      This is SOP (standard operating procedure) for most religions, and nationalities too.
      It ensures continuity and "ownership" too. The "rights" of the parent – religious or otherwise are transferred to the child. Whether they like it or not. Of course that doesn't make the child follow the parent does it. They have the ability to renounce their parents religion and chose another (as our wonderfully christian right candidate Newt has – numerous times) as they do with nationality – assuming certain criteria are met. That his gran-daddy was a Muslim therefore he is a Muslin is so flawed logic and a gross display of the prevalence of the ignorant in this country.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  11. Bob R., Lahnam, Maryland

    This fool's apology about my President, his President, OUR very distiguished President is NOT ACCEPTABLE! It should not have taken letters from anybody for this fool to know right from wrong. Disgusting! He should go to church, and repent, if he is a Christian!

    February 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  12. Larry L

    He's sorry because his stupid, right-wing comment is cutting into the bottom-line of contributions. The fool underestimated the character of other Christians who don't tie their religion to politics.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  13. Dance This Mess Around

    Why did we ever stop feeding them to the lions ?

    February 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    There are so-called "Pegan Gods" among us, worship none of them, they all bear false witness.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Every prophet that has ever opened its mouth bares false witnesses

      February 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • The REAL Truth

      @Claudia – I believe the word is "PAGAN".

      February 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  15. JJ Johnson

    This Graham guy is just another racist, hate-filled republican, I 've seen him on faux news with Hannity agreeing with all of the hate that Hannity spews about Obama,... and he calls himself a man of God, what a joke.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  16. DERASA

    And who this MORON think he is to JUDGE anybody about faith ?

    February 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Albert Alligator

      Franklin Graham is no kind of Christian that I recognize.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  17. cony000

    Religion has created more f-ing wars and social division than any other cause. Religion is a joke. Religion is a weapon of mass stupidity. Religion is not the answer but the problem. Just as tribalism is a problem throughout the world so is Religion. It is time that all Religions reflect about their insane rhetoric and allow common sense and logic to take its place. Spirituality is what needs to be emphasised and not men of evil who sit on a stage to BS the masses towards embrassing racism and pure hatred. Religion enslaves the mind, the spirit and the body. It is time that we set ourselves free from the abomination of all religious insanity and truely move towards the light of peace, respect and love for life and dignity. Religion needs to be lock up in a box and shot into space to be forgotten for all time. Man needs a spiritual revolution but it must come from within us and must be personal and not force fed by f-ing religions that just want to enslave us.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  18. Paul

    His father, Billy Grahm, would never have done this. He's now a political puppet. What a jerk.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  19. Kat

    It must be hard for right-wingers, almost impossible for them to see our President actually practicing his Christian beliefs they "profess" to revere, i.e.,he's a loyal husband, a supportive father, a champion of the poor, does not get angry, is able to apologize even to an enemy when the US has made an error, and the list goes on. My husband and I (retired school teachers) will once again proudly cast our vote for him in November.

    February 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Chad

      Well said. Republicans want a scandal-free candidate for President. They want a dedicated family man with unimpeachable morals and values. They want a man who can make the tough decisions intelligently and rationally.

      Unfortunately for Republicans, however, that man is already working in the Oval Office.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • clarke

      Well said, thank you.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Meghan

      I totally agree, Kat!

      February 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Albert Alligator

      "President actually practicing his Christian beliefs they "profess" to revere," That's why they hate him so much. They can't run the country OR keep their pants zipped up, and he's doing both easily.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Dr.Diamond

      -Well said Kat! I too will be casting my vote for a real Christian, Mr. Obama talks the talk & walks the walk. God bless Mr. Obama and cruse these so-called gop christians, they are full of hate & bigotry. 2012 A.D. We win- God said it that settle's it.

      February 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  20. Hypatia

    another political stunt

    February 29, 2012 at 11:58 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.