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. Chedar

    At this age of Quantum Mechanics, particle physics and evolution you guys still believe there is God. Stand up and be counted as intellectuals.

    November 22, 2012 at 3:29 am |
    • Wildcat

      You believe the in the Laws of the Universe clearly, yet you do not believe in the Lawgiver. Makes no logical sense.

      November 22, 2012 at 4:46 am |
    • BurningMan

      You should read John Polkinghorne...a particle physicist turned Anglican priest. Although he says some unorthodox about scripture and god's "plan" (to which Evangelicals would label him a heretic), he has fully attributed the quantum "wierdness" to his god. Evangelicals, in the light of Quantum Theory, should be far more afraid than they have been of evolution.

      @Wildcat...try to step outside of your own belief system for a minute and consider that others see the world differently than you. It requires personal integrity (this can be read as a suspension of your fear-based world view), something that as a Christian, I never had.

      November 22, 2012 at 4:54 am |
  2. K_Daraa

    One would be pretty hard pressed to find anything controversial about "...praying daily for our president, Barack Obama … for wisdom, Divine guidance, and that God would accomplish His will and purposes,”

    November 22, 2012 at 2:33 am |
  3. T.P.Thank

    It's nice that Rev.Franklin Graham wishes to pray for President Obama. However, he shouldn't have implied that America's economic recession is due to God's unhappiness with the growing securalization of the nation, and that the future of America depends on "our prayers". Just as his father Billy Graham had asserted "God wills Romney's victory over
    Obama" a few days before presidential election, any religious biases or slogans are simply counter-productive.

    November 22, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • God's Unhappiness

      Franklin knows the scriptures. Daniel 5:23 says, "...you have not honoured the God who gives you the breath of life and CONTROLS your destiny." In 1900, most large cities in the United States of America laid off the majority of their police forces due to the positive influences on society, of a Christian Faith revival that swept the land. In the past 100 years, proponents of secular humanism have exploited free speech, to reverse most of those influences, resulting in a landslide of problems for our society. What is it to you, if we pray for our country's leader?

      November 22, 2012 at 3:37 am |
    • nope



      November 22, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  4. Ray

    Bigot jr. is a sad example of a true Christian. His father is nothing to be proud of either.

    November 22, 2012 at 2:02 am |
  5. etesot obe

    I used to donate to the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. When I discovered he was political, I turned off my tap. No more more going to BGEA. I have urged my family NOT to donate money ever to BGEA.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:24 am |

    From childhood I was inspired by Billy Graham's Hour of Decision and the wonderful singing of George Beverly Shea. Thanks to him I am born again and believe "They that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever." (Dan 12:3)

    On his own website Billy Graham taught that Mormonism was a cult. He met with Romney then immediately removed the reference from his website. Next he issued a highly publicised coded endorsement – using tax-exempted offerings of believers, by the way. He alligned himself against the healthcare and jobs the poor, turning a blind eye to all the hate and voter suppression that Romney encouraged. They meant it for evil but God meant it for good. God smote and stunned their arrogant multi-million dollar campaign. Their shock and dismay is most gratifying for the poor.

    Too late to flip once again, Mr. Graham. You have finally showed your true colors. I love you and pray that you choose to pursue justice and righteousness rather fame, fortune and being a mouthpiece for the 1%.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  7. noodles doodles and toodles

    "as if" the creator of 600 s'extillion stars needs some humans to tell an omniscient being what he was going going to do anyway. Right.

    November 22, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  8. Mike 828

    I live in Asheville, NC, very near where Billu Graham lives. I used to have such admiration for Bllly Graham, thinking he was one of the true, non-judgmental Christian evangelists. After his and son Franklin's public support for the NC Marriage Amendment in May and partisan support for Mitt Romney, I discovered I was sadly mistaken. I can't even read his column in the paper any longer. What a disappointment.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • MC

      Are you kidding? I lived in Asheville too for many years, but never lost sight of the fact that Billy was and is a Nixon fanboy who sat there and said nothing as Nixon ranted about the Jews. And Franklin is nothing but a fascist.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  9. NavinJay

    Prayer is useless. It makes you mutter to yourself.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Prayer Has Worked

      40 years ago I was in a dire situation, sick, weak, laying exposed in a cold rain storm, after having fallen over an embankment beside a lonely mountain highway. I thought, "God, is this how you wanted me to end, this is what you wanted for me, if not, why don't you do something?" Within a second, I heard car tires screeching on the road above, then footsteps crunching in the gravel on the side of the road, then a smiling face appeared above me, and a young man said, "Brother, God told me to stop and go give you a hand!" I was 25 feet below the level of the highway, completely out of sight, with no other civilisation for miles. This young man not only helped me up, but gave me a ride 75 miles to my home, and watched over me for days until I was better. Then he took me to a private prayer meeting at a friend's home, where the prayer leader's greeting hug, broke loose my fused spine (from a horrific motorcycle wreck that had jammed the vertebra together). I never saw that guy (angel?) again, but that is only one "answered prayer story" of many I could relate to you. It defied rational explanation, other than God answering my "prayer".

      November 22, 2012 at 2:48 am |
    • The Ole Bullsh!t Detector Is Going Off

      Definite BS there, "worked."

      November 22, 2012 at 3:29 am |
    • BurningMan

      @ Prayer...this past week in the DFW in Texas, a woman and her child drowned in their vehicle after an accident sent her car into an apartment complex pond. While people tried to break her windows (amid her screams), the vehicle sank.

      How sad that god couldn't find the time to send this "angel" to save this woman, much less this purely innocent child. (Perhaps he was too busy at that church in Jacksonville, Florida where he has been miraculously replacing the gold fillings in the Body of Christ's teeth).

      I know, when I was a Christian, I would simply have said that it was "god's will" or that "it was their time," that is is a mystery or that we have "no right to question god's plan." Not much integrity in these typically pathetic responses.

      God has quite a good set of lawyers on his side who defend him from any moral responsibility for "saving" one person while failing to do the same for others.

      November 22, 2012 at 5:07 am |
    • nope



      November 22, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  10. Frank Religionintheass

    Scraw this goyl, who gives a rart'z erst aboot is caulk goblin duochey relargion. Fark relargion and fark this cloon.

    November 22, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Frank Religionintheass

      Dis goyl has a hankering fer sodomy!

      November 22, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  11. Woody

    A kidney stone will cost you 15,000 dollars, neck surgery 100,000 dollars, open heart surgery 250,000 dollars , a house will cost you 140,000 dollars , a baby from age 1 to 18 will cost you 250,000 dollars . If their is a God and he loves everyone , then heaven is free . You do not have to give a minister or a church money to pray to your God . So why would you when you are going to need your money for old age ? Is your minister going to pay for your medicine, medical care , your car payment , your mortgage payment ? If they are not going to pay for yours , why are you so willing to pay for theirs ? They cant get you into heaven . If there is a heaven than only you and God can get you there ! Money , and churches are of man ! Not God !

    November 22, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Michelle

      People give to churches not for themselves. They give the money to the Church because they believe in what the church is doing or they believe the money goes to good use.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Kajal

      Great comment.
      A lot of people who give to a church would be surprised to learn that a typical church only passes on ~10% of their collections to the needy. The remaining ~90% is used to pay pastor salaries, stained glass windows, ornate candles, robes, etc etc. You are basically donating to a social club that meets every Sunday. Just that instead of Golf, the topic is religion.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Michelle

      Kajal, show me the statistics, show me those numbers! A lot of churches are the only place people have to go, especially in impoverished areas. Look at a list of the biggest givers in the country. You'll find the Christian coalition right on top.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Nero

      Michelle is right. Christians give more to charities than non-Christians. The on problem is that charities can't guarantee healthcare for everyone. They pick and choose who they give to. Non-Christians look more to the government to provide for the underprivileged.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • nope



      November 22, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  12. Robert Austin

    Who gives a rat's patootie what Franklin Graham thinks?

    November 21, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Nero

      I care about what he says. He chose to endorse a member of a cult over a Christian and I want to know that so I know to dislike him for the hypocrite that he is.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Dave

      You do...you're reading and responding to the article! 🙂

      November 22, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  13. Robert Austin

    Religion needs to be outlawed.

    November 21, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Angela Birch

      No everyne should be free to believe what they want. The problem arises when people actually think some political character has the ear of God.I don't believe but I would deny no one the freedom to believe. Just keep it the heck out of government. And yes Franklin Graham is a political character.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • jay

      Not outlawed, but taxed. Tax the religious organizations on all the funds they do not spend on charity and watch the federal deficit, which these so-called christians love yelling about go way down.

      November 22, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  14. Down the middle

    Ive been wanting to say this for a long time...........got my internet up. What is up with CNN and the left..........dont get me wrong , the right are nut jobs.......but I use CNN for informatin and all I see on these messages are HATE for those on the right...........as if its ok to bash BUSH *i did when he was IN OFFICE *still going on* but not Clinton or obama, and anyone who says anything of that nature is horrible!!! its like a damn cult!!! I am seriously afraid for america WHEN tjhe left is so full of damn hate for the other side........its scary...I feel like the left could say ....we are gonna disband the UNITED STATES and if it was said by the left * no matter what the consequences.......it would be ok .......... I am seriously freaked out by the left atm........

    November 21, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Michelle

      Honestly, reading CNN is part of what propelled me so far to the right this year. The comments are... hateful. And many of the comments are insane and lack facts and are way out in left field (pardon the pun). They are as bad as any extreme right wing nut bag camp would be. But, then I came to an awakening that CNN is a left wing organization. It doesn't make it totally bad, but it puts things in perspective when reading it. This is the audience they cater too, it's not the entirety of the United States or even of the left wing it's the people they cater too. Come on, Ted Turner and Jane Fonda type stuff.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Angela Birch

      Any one is free to bash any president. The problem is Bush was incompetent and Clinton was competent and Obama appears to be competent. There are actualy facts to back this up. If you haven't seen hatred from the right you either haven't been reading or you are on the far right. If you think CNN is leftist you are on the far right. CNN is pretty middle of the road. Fox is on the far right ( and actually makes up "facts" and MSNBC os on th left.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Nero

      Angela birch is correct. I lean left and depending on the article I sometimes see more hate coming from the right than the left on CNN.com. There are extremists on both sides and I see them both posting on this website

      November 22, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • nope



      November 22, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • Ryan

      Michelle, reading posts by strangers on a website blog is what influenced your vote? What a simple minded F%#@. No offense. But thats one of the dumbest things ive ever heard.
      People are such followers.

      November 22, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  15. Woody

    People pray for an absolution that will never come ! Ministers are simply human mammals that use fear to fill their pockets with Gold ! And all they had to do was drop the L and come up with a good story to get people to shake so hard their money falls into their ministers hands . If their is a heaven you can not buy your way there filling a human mammals pockets with gold . Old people sometimes go without food and medicine because they have little money while the preachers hands out envelopes to take even more away from those that can least afford it .

    November 21, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • The Widow's Gift

      Friend, regardless of the truth of what you say, God looks into our hearts and sees those that "gave all of what they had."

      November 22, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • nope

      @the wid...


      November 22, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • .w Luyten

      I never believed in those envelopes. They do not have to know who gives what. The left hand should not know what the right hand is doing. We have a church in our town, that is full once a year , because the minister reads of what each parisher gave for the year. Shameful!!!

      November 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  16. Don

    I agree with fernace!

    November 21, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  17. J

    You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

    8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
    9 They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules

    November 21, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  18. RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

    For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

    And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

    Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (II Corinthians 11: 13-15 KJV)

    November 21, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  19. fernace

    I have a challenge for Franklin Graham! Why doesn't he pray that teavangelicals find the humanity in their souls & quit behaving like such judgemental holier-than-thou's! They condemn people for being human, by waving the bible around while pretending to be superior to us "poor, lost souls"! I am a believer, but due to the destructive message of hate, intolerance & exclusion preached at so many pulpits, you couldn't pay me to attend a church service! Pray for the deliverance of these disgusting characteristics & habits & maybe people will be more willing to hear the word of God! Don't tell me that I must "hate the sin" of my gay neighbor or condemn a friend for having an abortion! Last I checked the Bible tells me "judgement is mine, sayeth the Lord" & All of us are human! I want to hear a preacher speak from his heart & tell his congregation the best way to Heaven is through love, tolerance & inclusion! Also, he should be a proponent of separation of church & state! I'd go to church for that!!

    November 21, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Michelle

      Point out where they have been judgmental and hateful. They don't believe in gay marriage (which is not entirely true as many churches allow it) but that doesn't mean they hate gay people. The idea behind that is that marriage should be for child raising families. It's an easy explanation. No hate, it just didn't fit their idea of a child raising family.

      They are against abortion. Not because they don't believe in the right of women, it's because they believe in the right for the child to live.

      So, where really is the hate? The Westboro Baptist guys? Those guys are lawyers, they aren't a church.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • lloyd roberts

      Enough of you Michelle. Most of the hatred and separation and discrimination of human being on human being is because of religion. My God is better than your God and if you don' tbelieve that, I'm gonna kill you. Been going on for thousands of years through inquisitions, mass killings, forced conversions, wars, prejudice. God is real and forever. Religion is a man made invention and therefore can never rise to the grace of the true Creator.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Michelle

      Ohhhh, Loyd, ohhh Loyd. Can't you see that you have become everything you perceive in Religion and hate?

      November 22, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • Judgement Is Mine????

      Friend, I went through every translation of Romans 12:19 I could find and they all say "VENGEANCE is mine" vice "Judgement is mine" as you said. Vengeance is revenge, retaliation, payback, reprisal, "eye-for-an-eye", etc. Judgement is verdict, adjudication, ruling, decision, decree, etc. The closest translation to what you said was the Aramaic Bible in English, "Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath. For it is written 'Vengeance belongs to me. I will pay them back, declares the Lord'".

      November 22, 2012 at 3:14 am |
    • nope



      November 22, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  20. brich22

    Graham better start "praying" his tax exempt status is not REVOKED.

    Damn hypocrite!

    November 21, 2012 at 10:56 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.