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Earlier this year, the Army rescinded its invitation to Graham for the National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon over controversial remarks he made about Islam.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.
Mr. Graham, what bible tells you that are judge? I don't know a passage that gives us the right to qustion someones faith. EVERY parent gives their children a name. Did you have a choice at birth on your name? This is absolutely ridiculous.
We are not here to judge. We are here to serve is what my bible tells me. Why do I get the feeling, the elder Graham would NEVER had questioned someones faith if they stated they believe in God and Jesus as his son.
Even though I think Mr. Graham is an idiot, my bible tells me to pray for him anyway. As Christians, aren't we supposed to that? Pray for EVERYONE, including sinners and non-believers?
For those who believe he is a Muslim, go back and read your bible. What does it say about judging people? I believe Jesus welcomed ALL and prayed for ALL and didn't judge people, even the ones who put him to death on the cross. He aske for forgiveness for them, as they hung him. That's TRUE Christianity................................
This comment by Franklin Graham makes no sense in light of his Baptist background. Baptists believe that children are born little "heathens" not automatically into some church. That's why Baptists do not baptize babies. YOu must come to the church on your own once you reach the age of reason (six or seven is good enough).
Is Franklin Graham a reincarnation of Lee Atwater or Karl Rove? Unfortunately, right wing politics are so intertwined with religious fanaticism that 20% of the populace believe that if it came from the mouth of a religious leader it must be true. What a bunch of lemmings....
Obama got some religion over his failed Presidency. Good for him. Community organizer to President was always a stretch.
If Graham wants to get into politics he should have his tax exempt status taken away. He should pay taxes on what his church takes in. By the way Mr. Graham we don't care what myou think. I'm sure your father would not be proud of you.
this is crazy.when will media say enough already.WHAT DOES PRESIDENT OBAMA HAVE TO DO.WHAT EVER HE SAYS IS SPUN.OUT OF CONTEX.COME ON MEDIA HE IS BRING OUR TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ.NO CREDIT.WAR WHICH NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN.ITS JUST PLAIN SICKENING.THE WAY THIS MAN HAS BEEN TREATED,
Another fake media generated controversy. Graham did not say Obama was Muslim, he said he was Christian and had no reason to doubt that. What he said was that in the Islamic world, Obama would be considered a fellow Muslim at birth because his father was Muslim just as the son or daughter of a Jewish woman would be considered Jewish. It may not make sense, but Judaism and Islam do have teaching on faith by descent.
Trying to blame Graham for American's ignorance about the religion of their president is scapegoating. Obama does not go to church or belong to a church at the moment so that is another part of the confusion. More people said that they have no idea what his faith is than said he was Christian or Muslim.
to Peggy -TX: yes it is a fact, ask Muslims they'll tell you so. Same as Jews with the mother.
My Father was a Southen Baptist but I am not. Maybe his Baptist Seed was not the kind that transcends birth the way Graham says that Muslim seed does – so how would he know anyway?
I agree - america has become an idiot nation because of the republicans.
Laughable! Now the liberals want us to believe that BO is Christian? When was the last time the liberals defended Christianity?
Liberals are sad individuals to say the least!
What a crock of sheet.
This is why religion is killing our species!
It is now very clear there IS NO GOD. Christians, Muslims, Jews are all in a CLUB that thinks their club is better than the other. Let all the Easter Bunny believers open their church and compete against the Santa Claus religion. Let's teach our children the real truth. THERE IS NO GOD.
And the teatard meltdowns continue . . . .
IF church's lost their tax exempt status and withdrew from all the charity work that their status enables them to do the social safety net in America would be brought to it's knees. Church's save the government and taxpayers billions of dollars every year due to the schools and hospitals, soup kitchens, shelters, orphanages and other social agencies that they run. I cannot understand how people could live in America and not see that almost every homeless shelter and soup kitchen in any urban centre is run by a church.
to Willis: you don't have to be disrespectful and mock Muslims for their believe that the seed of Islam is passed down by the father to the son. That is their belief and has been for 100's of years. You should read on Muslim beliefs.
Can't wait until we grow up as a nation and elect an atheist as POTUS and no one cares! GASP! An atheist . . . oh no!!!!
We're not "born" with a given religion any more than we're "born" with any other of our parents' beliefs.
What a stain on his fathers name is Graham Jr. God another wacko!!!
This guy should just shutup like his dad did.
So, from this blog I learned that Graham is basing this "seed" theory on Islamic doctrine. It was obvious that he was not basing it on the words of Jesus. Interesting, appears that Graham has now converted to Muslim and now rejects Jesus’ teachings.
It is true that in Christianity one is not born a Christian but that is not true in all religions.
Ofcourse at the end of the day, it is about belief and it is not a race but in Islam a baby is considered muslim if his father is muslim. It is similar in Judaism where a person who has a Jewish mother is considered Jewish and not so if only his father is.
This man is a fool and a dangerous fool at that.
It's ironic when christians are supposed to be the ones who are tolerant and loving when they're so full of hatred and lies.
I'd prefer Obama to be a muslim over a christian if being a christian meant he had to act like most christians in America: hate and intolerance is their message.
The only folks Grahams teachings will appeal to harbor a deep seated prejudice against a having a black president and would never vote for President Obama in any case, but I guess that the GOP and most likely Graham is also desperate for cash. Charitable giving are a but down these days and I suspect that Graham is having difficulty funding his projects so he has decided to dip into the toxic well of politics to generate free advertising. Graham, you know very well what Jesus said about mixing wine with even a drop of vinegar, you have done just that. Shame on you.
Graham's kid has no control over his tongue... typical behavior of a rich kid :)
I would like to own 2 planes and a private airstrip up in Boom, NC like him... and been allow to talk absurdities like him.
The Grahams preach Jesus, but as far as I know Jesus didn't make an empire of hi father's Kingdom.