August 20th, 2010
04:34 PM ET
4 years ago

White House: Graham entitled to his own opinion

The White House responded Friday to comments made by Rev. Franklin Graham.
The White House responded Friday to comments made by Rev. Franklin Graham.

Editor's note: Watch "John King, USA" Friday at 7 p.m. ET for a fact check of Chief National Correspondent John King's interview with Franklin Graham.

Washington (CNN)
– The White House pushed back Friday against comments made by Rev. Franklin Graham, one day after the evangelical leader said that President Obama was born a Muslim because of his father's religious beliefs.

Graham, son of famed presidential religious adviser Billy Graham, said Thursday on "CNN's John King, USA," that while he believes Obama is now a Christian, the president was born a Muslim because the "seed of Islam" is passed through the father.

On Friday, White House spokesman Bill Burton said that while Graham is entitled to his own opinion, the president is Christian.

"[T]he president is a committed Christian," Burton told reporters. "I think that the American people know that, and Franklin Graham is certainly entitled to his opinion."

A poll released Thursday, conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, found that nearly one in five Americans believe Obama is a Muslim, up from around one in 10 Americans who last year said they believed he was Muslim.

It's a statistic that has forced the White House to defend the president's faith, a significant distraction from the administration's political and policy goals.

Burton said Friday he isn't sure why the numbers have increased.

"I can't say why people necessarily changed their mind in this poll, I can't say why folks even answer the question when pollsters call," Burton said.

Asked by CNN Chief National Correspondent John King on Thursday if he had any doubts about Obama's Christian faith, Graham, who has made controversial comments about Islam in the past, said the president's background is fueling the false perception that he is a Muslim.

"I think the president's problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name," Graham said on CNN's "John King, USA."

"Now it's obvious that the president has renounced the prophet Mohammed and he has renounced Islam and he has accepted Jesus Christ. That is what he says he has done, I cannot say that he hasn't. So I just have to believe that the president is what he has said," Graham continued.

Earlier this year, the Army rescinded its invitation to Graham for the National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon over controversial remarks he made about Islam.

"True Islam cannot be practiced in this country," he told CNN last December. "You can't beat your wife. You cannot murder your children if you think they've committed adultery or something like that, which they do practice in these other countries."

Graham later tried to temper his remarks by saying that he had Muslim friends. However, Graham has a history of comments that bothered the Pentagon. Shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Graham called Islam a "very evil and wicked religion."

In April, President Obama prayed with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin at Graham's mountaintop home in North Carolina. Billy Graham, a major figure in the American evangelical movement, has advised presidents dating back to Harry Truman.


Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. John

    Oh, I sure hope these outspoken bigoted wingnuts keep on opening their yaps like this.

    August 20, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. J.Crobuzon

    Franklin Graham is a fool. The seed of foolishness is passed through the father. Also, ask the people who claim they think Barack is a Muslim to tell you about Rev. Jeremiah Wright; they will correctly identify him as Obama's former pastor. They don't think he's Muslim, they just like repeating lies about him in the hope they can do him some harm.

    August 20, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    Who really cares? I know I don't. I am very proud of the man I voted for. He is doing an amazing job.

    Shalom from Floirda

    August 20, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  4. Erik

    This guy sure hasn't proven to be politically neutral like his father. I respected his father and I'm not even religious. It's ashamed Franklin shares his father's name.

    August 20, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    If Graham wants t o get into politics we should take away his tax exempt status and make him pay taxes on the money his church takes in.He should stick to preaching because we don't care what he thinks.

    August 20, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. Jilli

    Graham is as much of an idiot as any of the other people that believe Pres. Obama is a muslim. Pure ignorance.

    August 20, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  7. Tony Leyton

    I guess that make all Christians of the Jewish faith, since Jesus's Jewishness passes down from the mother, instead of the father.

    August 20, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  8. Von Bismark-Vienna

    This guy is seeking attention!

    August 20, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  9. Artie

    Graham is correct about birth name . If you don't want the illusion of being islamic don't take the oath of office with a hand on the Kuran and an islamic name to boot ! Then you make an idiotic statement supporting the mosque where planned ! Obama brought it all on himself !!

    August 20, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  10. Peter s

    Lets look at Rev. Franklin Graham comments are Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc. Look at the fallacy of reasoning "I think the president's problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name," So Rev Graham do you want to tell me (A) IF JOHN IS A BUULDOG, THEN HE HAS 4 LEGS, (B), JOHN IS A BULLDOG so! (C) THEREFORE, JOHN HAS FOUR LEGS!!! Then my question will be how do you know that? or you want to convince me the sperm knows whether you are a catholic, presbyterian, jew or what ever!. So you want to convince me if a have a blow job the sperm will know and hold back?

    August 20, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  11. Augsbee

    I don't get it, why is the White House upset that Americans might think that Obama is Muslim???? I thought they and Hollywood stars said there was nothing wrong with being Muslim. Didn't Hollywood say that having Obama in the White House would keep Muslims from being angry at America and it might even prevent another attack on us??? didn't Hollywood say that Obama because of his Muslim blood would unite us with Muslims and the rest of the world and we would find forgiveness with the rest of the world because we are so hated??? Graham is not saying anything different than what I remember Hollywood stars saying about how good it was for our country that Obama's father was Muslim, that he had been raised in Indonesia by a his stepfather. I remember seeing Obama's picture on his visit to Kenya wearing a Muslim rope???????

    August 20, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. bill

    You do not necessarily have the same religious beliefs, values, and intellect of your father ..... you are just his son.

    Proof of this is what Franklin Graham turned out in comparison to his father!

    August 20, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. Gerry Hausman

    Why should Graham be entitled to any opinion regarding Pres. Obama's religion? It is not a question of opinion; it is a fact that the President is a Christian, period. Graham may not like that fact, for reasons that do not involve Christian love and understanding,it is clear. Has Graham questioned the religion of any other President or political luminary? Let him examine his own motives, thoughts, and heart before he presents us with his ill-considered "opinion."

    August 20, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. byron

    by the same token, Franklin is an idiot who makes money from religion because the seed was passed by his father... oh how simple life is.

    August 20, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. BJ

    Franklin Graham, no matter what other may say, is a Man of God and he is correct in what he is saying. I admire him and pray that all will continue to be well with him.

    August 20, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. Targar

    Graham himself is not a christian he is just trying to take money from poor people. He is confessing to be a christian which is not true if he was, he will not judge any one of their faith. The Lord says," judge not that ye be not judge"

    August 20, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. J

    Seriously who cares what religion the President follows. It is his constitiutional right to follow whatever religion he chooses. People care way too much about non issues that do not have any impact on their daily lives or on the country.

    August 20, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  18. JoeC

    Clearly, Franklin Graham did not inherit his father's knowledge, tact and sensitivity. Graham must know that he's only fueling the fires of this ridiculous birther movement. When is God going to step in and strike down these false prophets?

    August 20, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  19. key

    This is how the US remain under informed. You know you can be raised Baptist and become Catholic of free choice.

    August 20, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. Duck Fallas

    "Liberty", "Freedom", "Constitution",- mere words, bandied about by Super Patriots who haven't the slightest clue what they mean.

    August 20, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  21. Ellie

    This is EXACTLY why there should be a separation between church and state. Rev. Graham needs to SHUT THE HELL UP and stIck to religion and stay out of White House policies/issues.

    It never fails that folks who speak from the pulpit and claim to speak for GOD are generally the BIGGEST SINNERS of all. Whenever someone doesn't PRACTICE what they themselves PREACH to others, folks need to run the other way.

    We've become a society who looks to people in our church, schools, work, medical profession TELLING US WHAT TO DO, HOW TO THINK and HOW TO FEEL!!! People don't use their common sense anymore when it comes to wrong vs. right. They look to someone else to solve all their problems and make them feel "better." Get outta here.....

    Life is no walk in the park, if you don't STEP RIGHT and DO RIGHT it will chew you up and spit you out. What pastor, priest etc. NEEDS to tell you that? Hello? WAKE UP PEOPLE, stop letting others dictate you life and your minds.

    August 20, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. kayla

    get over it. people. you have a black president accept it. he is not going anywhere. you have tried every trick you can imagine to bring him down and you fail.
    please stay focus mr. president, in the end you will prevail. good always, always triump over evil.

    August 20, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  23. right

    And look at the millions you and your dad have made talking about your imaginary friend

    August 20, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  24. Chuck--Texas

    America is in danger. America is in danger of losing all the very freedoms and "rights" that everyone on the Political Right are always screaming about being afraid Obama is taking from them. It is just amazing to me what people hear and believe without any verification what so ever.

    Obama is not taking anyone's freedom away; he is not a Muslim; Terrorist are not the largest danger we face. The largest danger to America comes from the uneducated stupidity of our own citizens. It is the willful ignorance of our citizens that will cause the lose of freedom and rights.

    August 20, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  25. Perry

    Franklin Graham is an effing fool.

    Religion is not passed genetically.

    No one is born Christian because their parents are.

    No one is born a Muslim because their parents are.

    People like Franklin Graham are why Jesus is getting such effing bad publicity.

    I hope JC slaps the crap out of him on Judgment Day.

    August 20, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
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