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. Why_Bother

    If Franklin wanted to help he should stop praying for something to happen and actually do something. His words in the past have only added to the divide he talks about amongst us in the country. To the media, please quit giving him the time of day and send him back to irrelevance. You can hear more thoughtful discussion of faith and American ideals so many other places in this great country.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  2. asm_ith

    Interesting that Graham thinks that prayer would help. He was undoubtedly praying for Obama to be defeated. So either God decided that Graham's prayer wasn't worth listening to because God wanted Obama to win, or God just isn't sufficiently interested in whatever happens here, or God wasn't powerful enough to prevent Obama from being elected so God isn't omnipotent but Graham is hoping that God tries to do something now, or there just is no God.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  3. revbates

    Enough of Billy and Franklin Graham already. This old time religion theology does little but keep people down and in poverty while preachers like the Grahams live an affluent life. Looks to me like CNN is their publicity department!

    November 22, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  4. EdwardTr

    He is not praying for the country or the president he is praying for president to see the light, his kind of light. He implies the president is wrong, ignorant and a lost sheep. Same hateful crap we heard before.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  5. Woody

    Churches are a business , their product is fear , their motive is to scare the money out of you , and they do it by intimidation ! One way is by getting you to keep up with the joneses by putting up a list of donors with their names and amounts they gave ! Money and churches are man made and if their is a God and heaven , there is no place to leave any man made money before you enter ! Lou leave as naked as you came ! Money and man can never get you into heaven ! But money can buy your minister a million dollar home ! I use my money to buy my family a home , food , and send them to college ! Something my old minister refused to do ! He only wanted my money for his own needs !

    November 22, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • DemFL

      Religion = Politics, to me they are one in the same.

      November 22, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  6. Dan

    He turned his tax free religious enterprise into a political machine this last election cycle. That's against the law. Demand he pays taxes for the last two years of political smearing or throw his ass in jail if he refuses to pay.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • citizenmn

      My thoughts exactly. The Grahams need to lose their tax exempt status.

      November 22, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  7. criehavenmaven

    The Episcopal church prays weekly for our President, our Governor, and our Mayor. So thanks, Frank, but we've already thought of it. Graham should be ashamed of pandering to Romney, probably the gang of Grahams are closet racists.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  8. TNPatriot

    "Render to Caesar what is Caasar's and render to God, what is God's" This quote, from a very famous Christian Savior says it all. Keep your religion in your church and OUT of the government!!

    November 22, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  9. vittal Pyati

    The biggest problem I've with Billy Graham & Son is that they espouse only those that have taken Jesus as the savior go to heaven and conversely those don't to hell. This means the apostle of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi went to hell but George Bush, 43rd President, went to heavevn unhindered though he caused the death of 4000+ Americans and 100,000 Iraqis mostly women and children in a senseless war. Coming to think of it the Mahatma may prefer not to go a Christian heaven because of steaks and hamburgers for dinner, a taboo for a strict vegetarian

    November 22, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Patty Biller

      Best thing to do is read a Bible; starting with the New Testament. Pray prior to say you may be enlightened. I know I did. Salvation comes in NO other name!!!!

      November 22, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  10. jayross495

    CNN, where is the video of President Obama's full Thanksgiving speech? I can't find it on your webpage

    November 22, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  11. Sandino

    I will be praying for Franklin Graham today, to lose his hatred and become a true Christian.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • gager

      Prayer does nothing. And why tell the world of your nonsense belief.

      November 22, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Patty Biller

      Only God is the true judge of his salvation. We are not to...

      November 22, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • CW

      Well said. Organized religion, especially those evangelist churches, preaches love on the surface, but unreality practices hatred and division. These churches have been meddling in politics increasingly in recent year. The IRS should revoke their tax exempt status. That is one way to increase the revenue of the government and to reduce the property taxes citizens have to pay, and it is the right way to do it.

      November 22, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  12. jwl

    I am sure Billy and Franklin conversed with God before the election, and He no doubt told them, "Hey,endorse the rich guy who won't tell you whether he paid his taxes, is a Mormon and believes that half of you are worthless and wants to refight the cold war with Russia." That's a strong basis for spreading the Christian message, fellas.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  13. peridot2

    This early suggestion that Conservatives come together to support our President is wonderful. It could be the beginning of the end of divisiveness and bipartisanship in US politics, which we desperately need. It's about time.

    Congress must get on with healing the rift in politics and in our country.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • gager

      I don't and never will support socialism.

      November 22, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • asm_ith

      gager, do you even have a clue about socialism? It is a social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. Private corporations are doing rather well in this country, making record profits. The discussion about capital gains rates would be rather meaningless in a socialistic society. You appear to be equating socialism with the government having regulations rather than a totally unfettered free-market, which we had in the day of the robber barons.

      November 22, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  14. biascnn

    Oh – My daily anit-Christian article from CNN.! This is the best you can come up with?

    November 22, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  15. vp

    Mr. Graham needs to pay taxes on his church.

    He's a moocher and a taker.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  16. sparky

    hey Frank! fvck you! pay some taxes!

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

    When the Nixon tapes were revealed and Billy Graham was heard reviling the Jews with Nixon, Graham lost any respect I ever had for him. It seems like his son is following in his footsteps.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • gager

      How can anybody ever have respect for a scammer and liar?

      November 22, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  18. Mary H.

    Good morning . do you have a few minutes? Type in, Divine Revelation Face to face encounters with Jesus Christ.
    I believe there is a Heaven and a Hell.
    I want to go to Heaven.
    Today, no matter what was done to you, forgive them. Jesus said, For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: Matthew 6: 14 Walk in love, talk in love.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • nope


      November 22, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  19. Franco

    What a moron Franklin is. There is a God and that is the God of Jesus and that is all I care to know. What some right or left wing says I must believe is nonsense if it goes against the love that Jesus taught. Jesus was a pacifist and non political.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  20. Puddin

    The reason the Grahams endorsed Romney is they could identify with him. He's white, obsessed with money, power and says one thing one day and something else the next; just whatever they think the public wants to hear. I think Obama and the rest of us should pray for the Grahams.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:14 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.