November 14th, 2012
03:41 PM ET

5 things we learned from Franklin Graham

By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors

Washington (CNN) – The Rev. Franklin Graham spends most of his time running an international aid group called Samaritan’s Purse. But he usually makes headlines for his political pronouncements.

Over the past year, Graham has attracted attention for his role placing newspaper ads in which his dad, the iconic Rev. Billy Graham, encouraged voters to support conservative values in the lead-up to Election Day. Franklin Graham is CEO and President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which in addition to financing the ads removed a reference to Mormonism as a cult from the group’s website. The move came as Franklin and Billy Graham met with Mitt Romney, who was campaigning to be the first Mormon president, shortly before Election Day.

The younger Graham stopped by CNN’s Washington bureau this week en route to New York, where he was checking in on Samaritan Purse’s Superstorm Sandy relief and promoting a Christmas campaign collecting gifts for poor children.

5 things we learned from his visit:

1. Graham rejects allegations that he is co-opting his ailing dad - who turned 94 last week - to voice support for conservative causes like opposing gay marriage.

Graham says that his dad would have never imagined current debates over the definition of marriage and about when life begins, which he explains is why the famously bipartisan Billy Graham has stepped up his conservative activism. Franklin Graham says it was his idea to run political newspaper ads before the election, but that his dad signed off on them. He says they traded several drafts of the full-page ads, which read as letters from Billy Graham, before they were published.

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“When the president accepted same sex marriage I felt that became kind of a moral crisis for our country,” Graham told us, referring to President Barack Obama’s endorsement of legalized same-sex marriage in May. “And that Christians should be reminded as to what we’re voting for. I presented this to my father, and he agreed that we ought to remind people to vote for biblical issues.”

2. Graham says his dad has always been political, and that Billy Graham’s activism last year was in sync with past behavior. “I’ve read some of the reports where they said my father avoided politics,” Graham said. “That’s not true. I mean, he’s known every president since Truman.”

Graham told a story about his father speaking at a 2000 news conference with George W. Bush in Jacksonville, Florida, on the Sunday before Election Day.  That year, after a protracted recount, Florida wound up determining the election’s outcome for Bush.

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“Now don’t you think that was worth some votes in Florida,” Graham asked, referring to his dad’s appearance with Bush. “I think it probably… changed the outcome of the race. So my father has been involved in politics at different levels over the years, and so for him to be involved in these ads is not out of character.”

3. Graham thinks America’s economic doldrums could be God’s way of sending a message about the nation’s growing secularization – and about what Graham sees as its increasing immorality.

“I don’t see our country turning to God,” he told us. “I see if anything the pride in the hearts of politicians [being] very big and very strong.”

“For them to admit that they made a mistake and to call up the name of Almighty God, it would take a major crisis in this country to do that, and maybe that’s what God will have to do,” Graham continued. “Maybe he will have to bring this country down economically before we will turn our hearts back to God, I don’t know.”

This scenario is related to Graham’s view of American exceptionalism, which revolves around the idea of a special relationship between God and the United States. “God has blessed the United States of America more than any other nation on this earth,” Graham said. “But we’ve turned our back on God as a nation and it’s sad, and I believe that his hand of blessing could slowly be removed from this country. We need to repent.”

4. Graham thinks preachers should speak out on social issues like abortion or gay marriage, but not on economic ones. “When it comes to the taxes - whether you should tax the wealthy more or the poor more, I’m not into that,” he said. “Let the politicians worry about that.”

5. Graham didn’t direct the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to remove its website’s reference to Mormonism as a cult shortly before Election Day. But he agrees with the move. “I didn’t even know it was there. We have like 10,000 pages on our website,” Graham told us.

Graham said the reference isn’t coming back to the site. “I don’t want to be involved in calling people names,” he told us. “I want to reach people for Christ, and how can I do that if I’m calling them a name? I don’t even like the word cult; it sounds like dungeons and dragons or something.”

What’s your take on Graham’s political views and how they grow out of his religious beliefs? Let us know in comments.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Billy Graham • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (813 Responses)
  1. jefflazrn

    Why does he speak about his dad in the past tense. Franklin Graham is a jerk.

    November 24, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  2. kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
    And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
    The, looking in, I saw upon the floor
    Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
    “How many anvils have you had,” said I,
    “To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
    “Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
    “The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
    And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
    For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
    Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
    The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

    Truth is..exclusive

    November 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  3. Paul Stufflebeam

    The only thing that there is to learn from any group or organization that has been established by men is that in it there is no truth. They are all lies and it is that they worship the god of their doctrine, satan.

    November 23, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  4. chuck

    Two weeks before they endorsed Romney, the Graham's website literally called Mormons the devil's spawn. One of the most dangerous cults on earth. And then they turned around and endorsed Mitt. The religious kooks in this country are truly coming unhinged.

    November 23, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  5. slrman

    The Grahams have always been political. At the same time claiming the tax-free privileges of a religion. Illegal? Of course. Hypocritical? Theist and hypocrite are semantically equal.

    If all religions were taxed like the businesses they are, it would as 71 Billion to the USA treasury. That would pay for a lot of health care, education, and enable many people to cross out of the poverty zone. But religion prefers people to be stupid , unhealthy, and poor. That keeps them dependent upon the great scam called religion.

    November 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm |

      But religion prefers people to be stupid , unhealthy, and poor. That keeps them dependent upon the great scam called religion"

      I am dying to know...how does Christianity do those things? So there are no stupid, unhealthy, and poor atheist?

      November 22, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  6. slrman

    The Grahams have always been political. At the same time claiming the tax-free privileges of a religion. Illegal? Of course. Hypocritical? Theist and hypocrite are semantically equal.

    If all religi9ons were taxed like the businesses they are, it would as 71 Billion to the USA treasury. That would pay for a lot of health care, education, and enable many people to cross out of the poverty zone. But religion prefers people to be stupid , unhealthy, and poor. That keeps them dependent upon the great scam called religion.

    November 22, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  7. virocat

    I find Franklin Graham and those like him becoming more irrelevant as time goes on. It is because of people like him that I am less of a Republican than I used to be. I did not leave the party. The party left me (and many others) and began to embrace wing-nut zealots like Franklin Graham.

    November 22, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  8. onthebeach

    Franklin Graham is the angriest preacher on the face of the earth. He's a smart aleck and has the emotional maturity of a teenager. He's rude and downright mean. Wonder what's really going on with him?? He acts like a spoiled brat in the interviews I've seen before I switched it to another channel before it was over.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Sam Stone

      I think Fred Phelps has Graham beat

      November 26, 2012 at 5:33 am |
  9. lobo joe

    But dad embodied the anti semitic thoughts often held by" true believers" of the Christian faith, as vocalized in the Nixon tapes.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  10. Anna

    Billy Graham is an absolute disgrace to Christianity. To deny that Mormanism is not a cult is incredulous – he will do anything to go along with the flow and his son is a disgrace also – there is no such thing as appeasment for a Christian – surely this nation is become more heathen every day! How we must grieve our Beloved Lord for our utter stupidity and selfishness!

    November 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  11. Tell the truth

    Messiah the son of Mariyam was not for war. People like billy Grahm, Pat and Graham's son and preached and preached to poeple as if they got a special message from the God of Messiah the son of Mariyam which it has never happened. Their fanatic and hate teaching has created wars, mistrust among people, name calling and they have allowed themselves to be used by politicians and special interests. what would Jesus would say if he was alive today and the evanglists only concentrating on abortion, or gay while ignoring the poverty, inequality, social injustice that is the root and cause of many poor choices people make. They call themselves conservatives and people of GOD but they were the most expensive & revealing clothes. THey drive best cars and live in finest homes and dine at best restaurants when you see them on TV and in public. And they call themselves Christian and condem everybody else. Jesus never live like that and never spoke or behaved like that.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  12. Hal Edrich

    Any person who doesn't think the man is ignorant and increasingly irrelevant is cluless about our changing society.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  13. dan

    franklin graham is worried about his money supply drying up. pure and simple. he sure is accommodating now that everything is over. i hope he goes broke and his crisis brings him back to God.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  14. j

    Franklin Graham and his board of directors disgraced father Billy by removing Mormonism from their list of cults. Are they real Christians? The answer is obvious and simple. They will do what is politically convenient for personal benefits, now, and this in the name of Jesus. The Christian faith lasted unchanged for two thousand years and endured cults and wrong messages all along. They are becoming a cult themselves. Now they have to live with Obama. Shame on them.

    November 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  15. foxybrown

    He calls himself a minister, a christian and a man of god, which god not the same one POTUS worships....this guy is a hypocrite

    November 22, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  16. Real christian Perspective

    Billy Graham may have been political but he was tempered by his very wise wife. Franklin proves over and over again that he is not his father's heir. I check any donation I make these days to make sure Franklin is not involved.. He's a disgrace.. was Jesus political?

    November 21, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • lol??

      heir? it looks too much like olde fashioned catholicism. (when the priests could be married)

      November 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  17. Jeff Thomas

    Wise answers from a wise man. The magnitude of charity dispersed by the Samaritan Purse ministry is totally ignored. Why not comment or post an article about the hundreds of millions spent on the poor and those devastated by tragedy? Why not make mention of an impeccable financial accountability that shows how every cent of the donations go to those destined for help? Many articles have been published to criticize Franklin Graham, but no one recognizes his commitment to the downtrodden. If the famous so called Messiah, Obama, who was extolled as the man sent to heal the earth had done 1/100th of what Graham has done, we would hear about if forever. Facts are facts, but those who despise them can easily ignore them. The Graham ministry is holistic and largely fundamental. Perfect –Only God. Criticize the pack of Democrats and Liberals who think they have a monopoly on benevolence!

    November 21, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Real christian Perspective

      You are a fool if you really think like this

      November 21, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Nick

      No, he is a fanatic, he cannot see the truth and reality beyond his own convictions. Look at the fanatics in sports, religion, politics....the same mentality all over the world, now and over the centuries.

      November 22, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Jeff Thomas

      It is not a matter of what I think. The facts of what the Samaritan purse ministry has done are out there and undeniable. How about coverage of their aid to the victims of Tropical Storm Sandy? –or a total of the help through Operation Christmas Child? Has nothing to do with convictions. Give unto Caesar what is due to Caesar. Easy for someone to say I am blind or a fool. Back up your garbage comments with facts.

      November 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  18. Angel Moronic

    classic Wolf in Sheep's clothing. !

    November 21, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  19. mz

    We know it was inevitable but its very sad watching this man fritter away his Dads capital.

    November 20, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • sam stone

      it does amuse some of us

      November 21, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  20. judith

    The Grahams took out a huge anti-Obama ad in the Los Angeles Times right before the election. Shouldn't they lose their tax exemption for blatantly meddling in politics?

    November 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
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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.