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. Pray4Frank

    Let's all pray on this Thanksgiving Day that Franklin learns why separation of church and state was so important to our forefathers who came here because they were persecuted in their home countries for not believing in and practicing the government-sponsored religion.

    November 22, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • jay

      So mote it be!

      November 22, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  2. Fed up with Republicans

    If the survival of the United States depends upon the blesings of and ephemeral GOD theni it most assuredly does not matter who the President is or what he or she does or does not do. Since the end result will all have been a part of that GODS master plan.

    November 22, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • BurningMan

      An important theological point that Evangelicals miss in their willful ignorance and arrogance. And it is a contribution to the argument against free will.

      I remember the days in bible study classes on prayer where we struggled with this issue of "why pray at all when god already knows your going to ask for and his will is already his will." Many will say that god's will/mind can be changed, as Abraham, for instance tried to do regarding Sodom and Gomorah. But that opens a wondrous theological can of worms!

      November 22, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  3. JerryF

    If I were not an atheist, I would encourage everyone to pray for the Graham family. For a group that claims to follow the fictional bible and its teachings of peace and acceptance, they are the most unpeaceful and unforgiving of them all.

    November 22, 2012 at 7:52 am |
  4. Mart58

    If lasting peace materialized in the Middle East (brokered by President Obama) – that'd truly be a miracle!!

    November 22, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Fed up with Republicans

      Peace will only come to the Middle East when the total truth of Israels creation and existence are acknowledged, when these people admit that they are not the natives of the land they inherited but are actually European colonist just like the other European invaders of North America and Africa then the world might have a chance for peace.

      We can only go so far based upon lies and even the Bible which most Christians hold as the gospel truth tells you that those people who are claiming to be "the Jews" are not the Jews of the Bible story.

      The most informative line of scripture in the Bible is that one which instructs us to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good and true.

      To believe anything blindly is not only stupid it is ignorant and stupid.

      November 22, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • BurningMan

      @ fed up...interesting how the monotheistic gods are so obsessed with geography, of lati-tude and longitude and yet, scripturally say "You are not of this world."

      One of the things that has convinced me of the non-existance of the monotheist's god is that he looks entirely too much like the monotheists.

      November 22, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  5. Rami

    we don't need your instruction Franklin. I pray for all people. Not just Pr. Obama. Clean your heart when you can.

    November 22, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • krb728

      Thank You Rami

      November 22, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • jay

      Let the misguided, such as Graham Jr., learn the error of their ways. You do NOT need expensive building, collars backward cheerleaders or others' interpretations of the so-called holy writ. You just need to go someplace to be alone and listen in the quiet and solitude for that voice which helps us all, if we listen.

      November 22, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  6. Name*penguin

    We don't need more prayers. We need more caring. If the social conservatives spent less time and effort trying to cram their ideologies down our throats and more effort actually helping others we all would be better off. The evangicals faith in God must be practically nonexistent if they believe it is societies job to punish sin rather than God. Our laws should only prohibit conduct that is detrimental to a functioning society. Let God punish sin

    November 22, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  7. ron

    Instead of praying maybe they should stop obstructing everything our president tries to do. Might be surprised some positive things he can accomplish.

    November 22, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Not Ron

      Disagreeing with someone and trying to stop what you believe are horrible ideas is not being obstructionist. Using your idea of compromise (i.e. "you do what I say!") I could always ask, why doesn't this President submit ideas Conservatives could go along with?

      November 22, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • krb728

      Absolutely Ron

      November 22, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • anahadwolves

      This is a prime example of why church and state must exist separately. I am a Christian, but, that has zero bearing on my vote. I vote for the person whom I believe will do the best job as President. Franklin Graham and his Pops only look at an election through the lens of "who's a better Christian"?

      The Grahams and all religions are free to endorse whomever they wish...but, they need to lose their tax-exempt status if they do.

      November 22, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • James

      Not Ron: There were numerous times in the last 4 years when the president either tempered his own goals or offered solutions that were formerly espoused by Republicans. Every single time – EVERY time – the Republican congress voted in lock-step to block him. We even had the spectacle of Republicans co-authoring legislation which, when the president signaled his intention to sign it, they then voted in lock-step to block (read up on the Dream Act). Liberals and Progressives are FURIOUS with this president for constantly compromising to try and get one or two Republican congressmen out of hundreds to go along with him. So – you want better results, try electing a better class of Republicans next time. The ones you have right now are useless...no, worse than that, they are getting paid my tax dollars to block progress, and filling seats that could be filled with people who actually care about the country. It's a travesty.

      November 22, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • nope



      November 22, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  8. works4me

    As I prayed for Romney to lose... and that worked, I will also pray for President Obama; to guide him in making America the UNITED States of America once again.

    November 22, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  9. Wolfgang Halbig

    News Director;

    Just think about this for a minute it will kick in:

    Since Government is taking away all of our privacy maybe we need to now find out who they really are.

    They listen to our phones
    They read our e-mails
    They now have drones flying over farms and communities
    They use CCTV and audio to hear us whenever they choose

    So now lets change the game a bit.

    Lets require first of all that every elected Congressman or State Legislator fills out a Federal and State Application for employment just as employees must do for work. They do work for the people and skirt this huge qualification requirement.
    Filling out a simple financial disclosure in running for office does not tell us about their past.

    They all need to be fingerprinted using the FBI data base.

    They require all the people in sensitive work areas to be fingerprinted then why would we not require all Congressman and State Legislators to be fingerprinted every five years.

    They deal with secret information everyday and I cannot believe to this day that all of the Congress is not fingerprinted since they deal with SECRET INFORMATION and National Security.

    What is that all about?

    All Americans need to be held accountable and if they play this game with us then we the People need to require more of those elected.


    November 22, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • works4me

      Pssst.... they are fingerprinted with a full background check.

      November 22, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • nope



      November 22, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  10. Pro-active

    I agree. We need a lot of prayers in addition to a return to acting ethically and morally in everything that we do. To live by the two greatest Commandments of God which are: "Love God" & "Love your neighbour as yourself". If we all lived according to those two pricinciples, there would be Peace and Prosperity in the World.

    November 22, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • nope



      November 22, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  11. larsyu71

    Now, does he dislike Jews as much as his dad? Hypocrites. Yeah, we should make policy decisions based on religion. Whack jobs!

    November 22, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  12. The Fladaboscan

    Of course this supported Romney! This guy is filthy rich. The public number for his dad's fortune is $25 million. Screaming hypocrite.

    MATTHEW 19.

    November 22, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  13. mangotelin

    talkin bout G_D, mm? Not there, they sayin. if he was, it'd be perfect, mmhmm, jus like mama's pies. suppose he ain't....perfect.
    suppose he's like us, that means he's not there? what kind of being uses that reasoning, that argument? watch the sun come up, listen to the birds sing, fall in love. doesn't happen every day, everywhere...but, when it does, you might be believin. mhmm

    November 22, 2012 at 6:09 am |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 22, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • BurningMan

      Sadly, praryer changes nothing. For if it did, Pastor Moats, in an interview, would not have blamed his "old nature" for his dishonesty:

      "Rev. Jim Moats, a 59-year-old pastor at the Christian Bible Fellowship Church in Newville, Pa., was exposed after The Patriot-News interviewed him for a story about life in the elite SEAL fighting force."

      By blaming his "old nature," Pastor Moats confirms for us that there is no transformative power in Jesus, despite this being the singular most important claim of the Evangelical. Neither the "Roman Road" nor the prayer "for salvation" accomplished what claimants are certain they do.

      Prayer, too, failed to as-sist Pastor Moats with his inability to mature from the childish need to feel special and important in the face of life and his congregation.

      November 22, 2012 at 6:20 am |
    • Azhar

      Not really, Romney still lost.

      November 22, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • as always

      Mormons like Romney are not Christians and so their prayers do not go to God. Besides which, do you have the text of any prayer Romney offered? Didn't think so, now you are proven the jerk you are. azhole

      November 22, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • as always

      burning man is wrong
      Prayer is not involved in your long winded story.

      November 22, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Are you saying the prayers for Obama to win were more effective than the prayers fo Romney to win?

      November 22, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      @as always,

      A lot of Christians whose fear of Obama, as stoked by the fear mongering on the extreme right, did pray for Romney to win. By your logic their prayers were heard by god. Must be that god liked prayers for Obama better, or simply ignored the prayers of the Romney supporting Christians.

      November 22, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • BurningMan

      @ as always...perhaps an adult reading course, specifically in "reading comprehension," at your local community college might assist you over the course of the remainder of your life?

      But I do appreciate your comments to azhar...when I was a Christian, my conservative politics made me quite the angry, name-calling, self-righteous one as well. I, of course, was certain I was just following my "god of justice" in his hatred for the sin and the sinner.

      November 22, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • nope



      November 22, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Imagine No Religion


      Again I ask, have you ever threatened YOUR children with eternal dam nation? I haven't, but I'll bet you have! Why won't you answer the question?

      Prayer changes nothing.

      I've repeatedly challenged you to take the George Carlin Prayer Test. Pray to your imaginary god friend for a month, then pray to Joe Pesci for a month. You'll find the percentage of prayers answered by god, and those by Mr Pesci, will be about the same (50/50). Have you taken the test? If so, please report your results.

      Are you a real live troll, or nothing more than a xianbot?


      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon

      November 22, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • nope



      November 22, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  15. NoTags

    Most of all Franklin Graham is praying that by playing in politics doesn't cut down donations to the BGEA.

    Since the BGEA decided they would remove Mormonism from their 'cult' list maybe the Romney's or the LDS church will donate a few million to the association.

    November 22, 2012 at 5:54 am |
  16. Bob

    God is a myth. You are only talking to yourself when you pray.

    November 22, 2012 at 5:43 am |
    • as always

      Atheism is a lie, you only deceive yourself when you accept it.

      November 22, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • nope



      November 22, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • jay

      I dream of a day when every person's path to the greatest mystery is honored and accepted. My path is my own and extremely personal. It helps me be the best person I can be. My wish is that your path helps me as much as mine helps me. Happy Turkey Day, gobble, gobble.

      November 22, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  17. Leif

    "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."

    Right...that is the same ludicrous "logic" that blames bad weather on immorality.

    November 22, 2012 at 4:43 am |
    • BurningMan

      Speaking of violent (god-inspired) weather, one would think that Las Vegas would long ago have been destroyed by Sodom and Gomorah-style event.

      November 22, 2012 at 4:48 am |
    • Mitt Romney

      Indeed, it is funny that the bible belt gets the most disasters.

      November 22, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Hmmm, god using disasters to punish?!?!?!

      Perhaps that explains why tornado alley has a bullseye on the buckle of the Bible Belt.

      November 22, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  18. Lord Vader

    Once again it never fails to witness the war against Christians suppressed by the atheists on CNN!

    November 22, 2012 at 4:21 am |
    • Leif

      "Once again it never fails to witness"...
      Once again someone butchers the english language on CNN.

      November 22, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • BurningMan

      Apparently, (and despite the claims to the contrary), the Christian god is quite powerless in the face of CNN and atheists. Alway wondered why we were so bitter that the Supreme Court had over-powered the lord and "removed" prayer from public schools.

      November 22, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • KF

      If you don't like CNN then why are you reading this? I believe god provided Fox for the simple minded.

      November 22, 2012 at 5:39 am |
  19. jason

    someone forgot to quote the part where he begs the elderly and mentally ill for money to receive gods favor.

    November 22, 2012 at 4:16 am |
    • BurningMan

      When I was a Christian I was quite blind to the reality that the "prosperity gospel" and the emotionally-based, mandatory 10% ti-the was/is nothing more than the modern equivalent of Catholic indulgences. It is now called "seed-giving" or "seed-faith."

      November 22, 2012 at 5:39 am |
  20. LT

    I believe their intentions are good but I am sick of the gross division between us in this country and especially in the body of Christ. God is not the author of confusion. How can feel so relieved and pleased at the failure of the right in it's fierce and deeply ungodly effort to tear down the President while other believers feel it was their God-given duty to vote for Romney even if he is a member of a cult??? I think the answer lies in part that we fail to believe that God is in control. Obama didn't create abortion rights or gay rights and while I despise the agenda of each of these, I feel like it was time to move on to other issues and let God remain in control.

    November 22, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • BurningMan

      The simple answer is that the "body of Christ" does not believe that their god exists. The stark evidence for this is in the living of their daily lives, not to mention in their political expressions. If they truly believed that "prayer changes things" or that "prayer transforms lives," the Evangelical would be a completely different animal.

      November 22, 2012 at 4:29 am |
    • Servant Of Jesus Christ

      I agree with LT and what Burning Man said about Christians not believing in God. If they did, things really would be different. Politics is not in the Kingdom of God. God is not Republican or Democratic. He is God. He is Sovereign. Christians need to repent and turn back to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our God, and love is the answer. God said, if you love Him, keep His commandments. His Word says that there is no authority accept what He ordains and puts in place. We are to respect that authority and believe and trust God for our lives, not any person or political system. Not come against the authority God has ordained for us. To do otherwise is disobedience to God and idolatry. But, some Christians were determined to exert their will, instead of letting God's will be done. It is shameful that many Christian leaders influenced and/or participated in politics the way they did in the past election. Try the spirit by the Spirit and see if it be of God. Obama confessed Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Denying the Spirit in him is blasphemy. We are not fighting against flesh and blood, like some Christians believe. Satan is our enemy. If Christians had been doing and believing what the Bible says, the issues they complained about in the election would never have been on the table. Christians have been stuck up in their churches, building buildings and not doing what God commanded. Obama is not the problem, we are! Repent! Stop worshipping politics and politicians! Stop being respecter of persons! Stop lying, it is an abomination, too! You can not serve God and mammon! What fellowship has Light with darkness. Christians are still being deceived by Satan. Wake up, who are you going to serve? Choose this day! Me and my house will serve the Lord Jesus Christ!

      November 22, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • BurningMan

      @ servant...although I no longer believe, I do appreciate your thoughts and wish the Body of Christ actually considered the scripture you refer to seriously...especially your reference to Ephesians 6...I wonder how many Christians understand that Luke 6:27ff and Matthew 25:31ff refer to them, not "sinners."

      I wish you well, Servant.

      November 22, 2012 at 8:21 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.