Franklin Graham’s Thanksgiving message: Pray for Obama
November 21st, 2012
12:11 PM ET

Franklin Graham’s Thanksgiving message: Pray for Obama

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Washington (CNN) – With the world facing “perilous times” and “anxiety stemming from economic challenges,” evangelical leader Franklin Graham is asking congregations to pray for President Barack Obama, even though Graham endorsed the president’s opponent in the 2012 election.

“Having just come through a divisive national election, I am urging pastors across this country to lead their congregations in praying daily for our president, Barack Obama …  for wisdom, Divine guidance, and that God would accomplish His will and purposes,” Graham said in a statement. “While politics is noticeably partisan, prayer must never be partisan. Americans need to come together, and people of faith should lead the way, by praying diligently for our leaders whether or not they agree with them or their policies.”

Graham - the president and CEO of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association - is the son of Billy Graham, the famed evangelist with many political ties. The elder Graham has met and prayed with every president since Harry Truman.

Though Franklin Graham decries political partisanship in his statement, he endorsed Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

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After meeting with Romney at the elder Graham’s home in Montreat, North Carolina, Franklin Graham gave a full-throated endorsement of Romney in a USA Today opinion piece.  Billy Graham appeared in full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other newspapers, calling on voters to cast a ballot for their faith.

"As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last,” reads the ad, which features Graham prominently. "I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God."

Many saw the ad as an endorsement of Romney due to its timing, but Franklin Graham insists the ad was not a formal endorsement of Romney, rather an endorsement of biblical values.

During an editorial meeting last week with CNN, Franklin Graham made the case that America was at a crossroads, especially economically. In the meeting, Graham said he 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.

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Graham’s view is connected to his 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.”

Graham made the same sort of economic message in his call to prayer.

“When we look at the moral and economic decline of our nation and the international threats before us, it should be clear that we cannot solve these monumental problems without the help of Almighty God,” he said. “Our future may very well depend on our prayers.”

- CNN’s Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Billy Graham • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (1,158 Responses)
  1. The Tooth Fairy


    November 22, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  2. Raybaby

    I was under the impression that religious non-profits cannot endore candidates–if they do they lose their tax-exempt status. Am I wrong? In any event, It is so disingenuous of the younger Graham to ask people to pray for the guy he so adamantly criticized. Just another way to keep his name in the news because his so-called ministry is falling apart and he needs a job–the only work he's ever done is to ask people for money. That CNN and other media keep running his press releases is further evidence that we no longer have reporters but repeaters.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  3. retire

    Franklin Graham embodies the essence of hypocrisy.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  4. Matt Wolohan

    Franklin and Billy are both old school southern racists! Their prayers are are not worth much. I pray that poor Billy will be forgiven for his sins that 94 years wasn't enough time for him to figure out.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  5. Mary S.

    He must want something of him.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  6. 40acres

    Perhaps Franklin should pray that God grant him the ability to accept God's will.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Texas GOP

      Don't even go there stupid. We real GOP members hope and pray Obama runs the Country off the financial cliff then all you ignorant Americans will be crawling back to George W, Rick Perry, Palin, Newt and even old John McCain so save your bacon. We want you to beg us for help. Rev. Franklin Graham has always supported the Right Wing. Who do you think paid for all those full page ads and contribute all that money to his "Charity"? But I will admit Romney was a Mormon Loser. So get smart like me an vote straight Tea Party no matter how sorry the Candidate is. I mean even idiots Senate Candidates like Akin and Mourdock need to be elected to get these liberal women straightened out.

      November 22, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  7. not me

    I would argue that this so called man of god is nothing but a fake. Speaking for his father... yeah right. He has used the family name to build himself a small fortune and my guess is he will be running for some political office once his father passes.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  8. splassher6

    I prayed that Obama would go away... you see how that turned out

    November 22, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  9. glorydays

    I pray that Graham becomes a nicer, more loving person.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  10. Gambi

    Thank you for inspiring words. May God bless "OUR" PRESIDENT with wisdom, patience and guidance to lead this great nation. May unity and faith be virtues all Americans aspire to achieve because together we are strong and divided we will fail.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • splassher6

      wow you really don't understand Obama's agenda to you?

      November 22, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  11. tffl

    Given its president's explicit political endorsement (even ignoring its namesake and chairman's implicit endorsement), how does the Billy Graham organization keep its tax exemption?

    November 22, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Gerry Evans

      Their tax exemption is guaranteed by their political connections. Their country is in such desperate financial shape and yet the biggest and richest of the churches won't part with their exception status to pay for their guaranteed "freedoms" and safety. They use the streets, police, EMT services, and beg every dime from whom ever will "give" to them and yet they can't pay a penny on their property or income. Yes, they could claim charitable deductions on income, let them do that, but people like the Grahams think they are anointed special people and WE THE PEOPLE OWE THEM.... The churches and their pastors should pay taxes just like the rest of us BUT THE POLITICIANS WHO SOLICIT THEIR ATTENTION, JUST FOR A VOTE, WOULD NEVER ASK IT FROM THE CHURCHES OR THE HIGH AND MIGHTY WHO RUN THEM.

      November 22, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  12. bp

    Nice to see Graham actually speak like a Christian, rather than spew the hate and bile he normally does. Perhaps he's not feeling well today.

    "I like your Christ. Christians, not so much. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." – Gandhi

    November 22, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  13. pflatman

    "and that God would accomplish HIS will and purposes" says all that needs to be said about the Christian/evangelical religion.

    Does anyone really wonder about misogyny in our society?

    November 22, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  14. grady

    "There they go...throwing it all on my back again". – God.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  15. Michael, Chapel Hill

    Liberal hate filled comments...CNN fails even to mention Obama/liberal failures...Time has come as it is written, "Anyone who kills a Christain will be praised as saint." When God gives ups a generation to the wickedness of their minds...like the times before the Flood.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Michael, Chapel Hill

      The rapture is coming... time to get on the Christian crazy train 😯


      November 22, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  16. Thinkergal

    I no longer financially support the good work of Samaritan's Purse, thanks to Franklin's political activity.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  17. annie s

    Take away the tax free status of every single church that wades into politics.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • MaryAngeline

      Totally agree with this. I can make up my own mind and don't need the opinion of any religious group all of which are so judgmental to those who don't agree with their particular philosophy.

      November 22, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  18. rexdogcanadien

    All religion are cults. Religion and god are not synonymous. Religion is a business (churches,mosques, etc are businesses ;Free enterprise) it has no relationship with deities. Gods do not need money. Gods are all loving. Gods are peaceful. Gods have integrity(truthfulness), spirituality and compassion. Religion is not vertrueous

    November 22, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  19. D

    Franklin needs to pray for himself and ask for forgiveness for embracing the Mormon cult for personal gain (this is religion, not politics).

    November 22, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  20. rino

    Thank you Mr. Graham and may other GOP follow your lead and get this country together with our president and work together to advance our great country.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Keep your God and your religion out of our public lives, go away and we will be a greater country for it.

      November 22, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Texas GOP

      Don't even go there stupid. We real GOP members hope and pray Obama runs the Country off the financial cliff then all you ignorant Americans will be crawling back to George W, Rick Perry, Palin, Newt and even old John McCain so save your bacon. We want you to beg us for help. Rev. Franklin Graham is also on our side. But I will admit Romney was a Mormon Loser. So get smart like me an vote straight Tea Party.

      November 22, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Kev

      I agree, I always found it very troubling when you those like Limbaugh and McConnell, who either wanted or had their goal to make sure that Obama would fail. Not for promoting the welfare of this country, but to have Obama fail. If Obama fails what does mean for us?

      November 22, 2012 at 11:27 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.