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. Maie MD

    old man I sold my sold my soul to the devil for a cretin still alive? I would have thought that he would have dropped dead after allowing the twit to take his cult religion off his website.
    Who cares what the grahams say!

    November 15, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  2. lane

    it was gods will for obama to be elected president again if you don't support this it means you hate jesus,and not a good american. so what is it, do you hate jesus and his teachings? and are you not a good american? go pray about it and jesus will open your eyes.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  3. AvdBerg

    For a better understanding of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and the spirit it serves (Luke 9:55) we invite you to read the read the article on the BGEA and 'False Apostles and False Christs' listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Friendship of the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). The Graham's are in truth enemies of the cross of Christ and of God (Phil. 3:18). They serve after an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15).

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • AvdBergism sourch of filthyRainerBraendleinism©

      Absurdity of false Graham, Revelation, Christian Captain Crunch dog. NO DOGS!

      November 15, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • sybaris

      You do realize that quoting your bible book accomplishes absolutely nothing.

      It's not like we're all gonna smack our foreheads and say, "Aw crap, AvdBerg is quoting the bible, we should all be christians now!!"

      All you are doing is using circular logic to prove your point. "It's true because it says it is, because it says it is, because it says it is......."

      logic fail

      November 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  4. Greg C.

    Both of the Graham's were exposed for what they truly are Fraud's . Franklin didn't know that the Mormon's were on his own father's cult list ? Not only is he a fraud but a liar too !!!!!

    November 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  5. sybaris

    How to make ridiculous amounts of money and control people?

    Religion and Politics

    November 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  6. Gary Bonner

    If you profess to be extolling the virtues of Jesus Christ, and your vision of the world divides people (in your miniature mind) into groups of "good" people and "bad" people, “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!!!”

    November 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  7. JerryC

    Franklin is talking like a typical politician. He's asked why, unlike his father, he's politically active in right wing politics. He replies his father "knew all the Presidents" as if that is the same thing as funding extreme right wing attack adds over divisive issues. And I like how he's not concerned about issues like the rich stomping on the poor, because "that's political" but of course he feels free to put his Dad's name behind the Republican's other social issues.

    Jesus would have recognized Franklin Graham as the High Priest who kisses political power for his own position. Shame he drags Billy Graham's name into the mud over this.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  8. GBfromOhio

    Ignorant is as ignorant does. Cannot stomach this guy and his intolerant, ridiculous fairy tale dogma. Get your religion out of my face and out of my government.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  9. Gary Bonner

    If you profess to be extolling the virtues of Jesus Christ, and the word LOVE seldom parts your lips, “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!!!”

    November 15, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  10. msp

    “When it comes to the taxes – whether you should tax the wealthy more or the poor more, I’m not into that,” he [Franklin Graham] said. “Let the politicians worry about that.”

    What would Jesus do? He told the adultress whom the Pharisees want to stone to go and sin no more. Jesus told his desciples "I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me." and that "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me."

    So now we want to join the Pharisees to condamn the sinners and not the take up the cause for the poor, sick and inprisoned?

    Maybe Rev Graham needs to go back and read the Bible some more.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • sybaris

      "Maybe Rev Graham needs to go back and read the Bible some more."

      Maybe people should base their decisions on rational logical thought rather than direction from a book of fairy tales.

      November 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  11. mmi16

    When Church's are taxed – then they can have a political voice.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  12. Alice

    I was saddened to hear that Franklin Graham felt the need to relabel Mormonism somehow. It may be uncomfortable to talk about but there are truths that are uncomfortable. There are basic tenets of Mormonism that sharply differ from Christianity.
    Check it out for yourself.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Paul

      Religion is a bedtime story...nothing more.

      November 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • sybaris

      So what you're saying is your fairy tale religion is better than another fairy tale religion

      November 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • heliocracy

      Despite the fact that it's all false, it also goes to show you just how malleable the "sacred" beliefs of the religious really are.

      November 15, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  13. Paul

    Exactly why churches need to lose their tax exemptions.
    Direct violation of church and state.
    Churches should have ZERO say in any political issue.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  14. Reality

    Graham and his father should first apologize for ripping off their "non-profits" with their combined salaries of $1.2+ million/yr.

    And they have the audacity to call themselves Christians !!!!!

    An update:


    "CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Concerns about his rising financial compensation during tough economic times have prompted evangelist Franklin Graham to temporarily give up future contributions to his retirement plans at the two Christian charities he leads.

    As president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, he receives two full-time salaries and two retirement packages. Last year his total compensation from the two Christian ministries was $1.2 million.
    The size of Graham's total 2008 compensation – $535,000 from Samaritan's Purse and $669,000 from Charlotte, N.C.-based BGEA – drew questions from nonprofit experts. They doubted that one person – even the energetic, globe-trotting Graham – can do two full-time jobs when those positions are head of organizations that employ hundreds and spend hundreds of millions around the world. "

    November 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  15. yeahItsMe72

    Mr Graham is wrong on most issues.

    Who you choose to marry is a choice about personal freedom and persuit of happiness, both of which are American bedrock principles.

    The bible mostly demonstrates polygamy as the model for marriage, the fact that modern Christians like to cherry pick man and a woman as the only right way is completely arbitrary and not something free Americans need concern themselves with.

    Woman having access to proper medical care and making decisions about what procedures they need is something that should remain between them and their doctors.

    The issue has never been about the rites of the unborn child. Abortions took place regardless of the laws for centuries, this issue is about the Church losing control of dictating to people what they should and shouldn't do. No one likes abortions, but it's really no one else's place to say what a woman does with her body other than that woman and if she decides to have an abortion that humane thing is to give her the best medical care we can provide.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Reality

      The reality of se-x, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from an agnostic guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

      Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

      The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

      : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

      Added information before making your next move:

      from the CDC-2006

      "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

      And from:

      Consumer Reports, January, 2012

      "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

      Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

      "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

      Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

      The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

      – (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
      – (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

      Followed by:
      One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
      Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
      The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
      Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
      IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

      Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

      November 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • heliocracy

      Um, you have stated two different failure rates for the pill in the same post, one correct (<1%) and one wildly exaggerated. Fail.

      November 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  16. Cali

    Perhaps Rev. Graham kept his political ideas to himself in the past. In his 90s I do not care what he has to say at this point but I will no longer be supporting him. Now I see why the offering buckets were passed out multiple times during choir rehearsal for his crusades and multiple times during his crusades. Thanks for the memories. Make new ones with your conservative & polarizing son; far from Christ.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  17. RobinMO

    The election was an emphatic rejection of Graham's perversion of religion.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  18. Zil

    Can somebody please ask Graham is MORMONISM is Christhian? Maybe he will revert back to his old belief that MORMONISM is a cult because the GREAT MORMON MITT ROMNEY LOST THE ELECTION VERY BADLY,,,VERY BADLY.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Reality

      Popular vote



      Much closer than the 2008 election.

      November 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  19. mike

    “When it comes to the taxes – whether you should tax the wealthy more or the poor more, I’m not into that,” he [Franklin Graham] said. “Let the politicians worry about that.” Spoken like the true leader of a not-for-profit.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  20. john felty

    Years ago I sat in the church where Franklin Graham was ordained as a Christian minister and listened to his Christ centered message that day. His books, "The Name", and "Rebel With A Cause" are examples of his knowledge of the inseparable connection between Christ and Christianity. I have attended Billy Graham Crusades and listened to his invitations for people to know Jesus Christ and accept Him as Lord of their lives. I was, and still am convinced that Franklin and Billy really understand the definition of a Christian and that these professing "towers" of Christian Faith also know, or should know the
    fundamental tenants of Mormonism and that this cultish sect has little in common with true Christianity! The Biblical definition
    of Christianity is irrefutable! When an "old soldier of the Cross" like Billy or his son Franklin compromise their position on Jesus Christ for the sake of parisian politics I am saddened and have greater empathy for the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's
    emotional "God damn America sermon"! It is incredulous that those whose lives have been spent proclaiming the universal
    Good hood and Deity of Jesus Christ can waffle for the sake of politics. I can modify a Chevy, even if I put a Chevy nameplate on the hood, until the most unsophisticated person knows it isn't a Chevy! Claiming that Mormonism is Christianity doesn't make it so! If it should, then I am not a Christian!

    November 15, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • sam

      Yes, we should absolutely keep the French out of our politics.

      November 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • heliocracy

      Don't you ask yourself, "if they will compromise their sacred beliefs on Mormanism, what other aspects of Christianity have they compromised for their own expediency?" How many of their lies have you actually swallowed over the years, while they got rich and famous?

      November 15, 2012 at 6:41 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.