August 20th, 2010
04:34 PM ET
10 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. BenFranklin

    Apparently, not only is every sperm sacred, but it's religiously affiliated. Would an exorcism help? How about a laying on of the hands? Out, unclean spirit! Arise, a Christian!

    August 20, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. Mikey

    More proof that evangelicals, in general, are a bunch of nuts.

    Born a Muslim? What, did he come out of the womb saying "Allah is great"?? He was raised mostly by his mother (an agnostic) and his grandparents (religion unknown). He chose Christianity years and years ago. That makes him a Christian, and a better one than all those people "accusing" him of being a Muslim. Oh, and by the way, there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim. If you think so, you must be an idiot. Seems our enemy is not Islam, but extreme fundamentalism in all its forms.

    August 20, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. Jason

    And if he were Muslim? So what?....

    August 20, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. Augsbee

    to AZ DEM: it is the White House that is pushing back comments made by Rev. Graham and stating that the President is a Christian not Muslim. Didn't you read this article by CNN ??????

    August 20, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. sssimon

    *shaking my head*

    America is an idiot nation. In any other civilized country in the world the utterances of a religious fundamentalist fanatical fool like this would just be ignored. They aren't even worth hearing or debating or disagreeing with they are so obviously the mouthings of a feeble minded half wit.

    But in the USA this is front page news and there are actually people defending his position.

    I wish I could say I was surprised. What next? Every single day we get dumbed down more and more.

    August 20, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  6. harold

    Frank Graham the new ALLA?. Or the new Jesus? Or just what is Frank Graham?.. He surely gives the impression he has the last word on religious matters so called...He appears to be just above all of us... does he not?..And by the way careful of that seed thing....doncha think Mr. Graham..Or are you a pro lifer so called and just throw it around at planting time?.. Seems all kinda silly....Why don't you read Jesus words MR. Graham.. and treat everyone as humans..huh?

    August 20, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. John

    I'am fed up with Religous people,Iam not going to churches anymore because they force me to believe what they believe.

    August 20, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  8. PaulinABQ

    More confirmation that professional religious people are not in touch with reality. Besides, who gives a rat's patoot what this nobody says about anything. WHO CARES!!

    August 20, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  9. TL

    I don't care what religious folks say, when we become adults we make our own decisions. Just because you're raised in the catholic or baptist church does not mean you can't worship / practice some other faith! I personally know a few people attended church 3 times per week as a child and teen and when they moved out of their parents' home they became atheist.

    August 20, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. 4merRepubCT

    Correction to earlier post – Obama took the Presidential oath with the bible that Abraham Lincoln used when he was sworn in for his first term as President.

    Obama used his family bible when he was sworn in as Senator.

    August 20, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. Frederick

    What an idiot. Seeds of Islam...Greham hasn't a clue. My grandfather came from Germany before WWII. Does that mean I'm a Natzi!

    August 20, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  12. hskrbob

    This country is at a crossroads. How long to we have to listen to these idiots? Is he a Muslim...was he born in this country...etc? He is our President and deserves the respect that every other President before him received, even George Bush! Let's stop being afraid, strop listening to the Tea Party, the GOP, and the Dems and get off our keesters. In fact, let's make serving in public office what it was really meant to be, serving the public. 2 years in office, then that's it. No pension, no second or 15 terms in office, and no time for lobbying. Help the people for a change. Silence Fox News and the 'ditto-heads.'

    We are regressing every day and letting stupidity and fear goven our lives. Enough is enough!!

    August 20, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  13. John

    Even though I supported Obama in the election against McCain, I am sure he has always been a Moslem. His father's religion runs through him, and he is secretly committed to the "dreams of his father".
    His youthful time in Indonesia, the letters of his father, the fact that his fahther's area of kenya is well known for fundamental Islamic views and the recent prostrating for the Saudi King plus other signs convince me that Hussein Obama is a Moslem to the core.

    August 20, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  14. InTruth23

    Artie get some brains and do some research. President Obama was sworn in with his left hand on a bible used by Abraham Lincoln. He used his left hand because he's left handed.

    August 20, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. IKHAN

    We must be the number 1 nation in producing & listening to nut cases & wackos.
    he is one of them.
    Spewing hatred & sowing seeds of intolrence, an epitomr of bigotry & ignorance.
    Nothing can be farther from the spirit of America or Christianity.

    August 20, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  16. Scott O' Canada

    Praise the lord and pass the bucks Franklin, praise the lord and pass the bucks. So what if he's a Christian, a Muslim, or even a Secular Humanist for that matter.
    Go back to taking people's money Franklin.That is the only religion you know.

    August 20, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  17. Peggy - TX

    The "seed of Islam" is passed through the father … really??? Is that a fact.

    Graham is entitled to his opinion, but frankly I do not believe that Graham speaks for God, has any special knowledge about God or espoused concepts that are consistent with the teachings of Jesus.

    Promoting false, made-up religious principles with an air of authority to fool those who sincerely want to serve God and may seek guidance from religious leader to give money to a cause that is not just or to vote against their self interest, is totally inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus. If fact, Graham, in doing so shows that his heart is consumed by self pride and an evil desire to control others.

    August 20, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. stacy

    Wow... the relgious/conservative "powers that be" continue to fire up the base and incite fear and hate towards President Obama. They will not stop until they've killed him.
    I hope and pray the November elections show a clear and large majority are behind their president and support his efforts to clean up after Bush and get the country back on track.
    In the meantime..... I encourage everyone, no matter what "side" your on to demand a more professional and honest debate regarding politics...... each side only listens to their own at this point!

    August 20, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  19. Doc

    This is getting ridiculous. What qualifies Franklin Graham to determine where the "seed of Islam" passes? He is not ordained by God with any special powers to make that determination. Religious beliefs are just that...beliefs. Obama professes Christian beliefs. No one, and I mean no one, has the ability to see into another person's heart. If Obama can be accused of lying about his religious beliefs, so can anyone else, including you! Only fools or liars express opinions that have no basis in fact, simply because they support that person's personal agenda. Obama is a Christian because he professes to be one. All the right-wing hatred and dishonesty in the world cannot define his religion otherwise. So, give it a rest.

    August 20, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. Dan, TX

    This guy is silly.

    August 20, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  21. Leonid Brezhnev

    It doesn't matter what religion any president is. It is no one's business.

    Franklin Graham is an idiot. I'm sure Billy isn't too happy with him.

    August 20, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  22. Really?

    Is it just me or am I the only one who is so tired of the questions about birthplace, religiion, vacation spots and the like... Really???? I wonder if we just let the people in Washington focus on what is really important; the economy and job creation perhaps they could get some work done and I meant "they" as in BOTH parties. What good it any of it doing? It is such a distraction and completely absurd. What a waste of time.

    August 20, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  23. Klaxon McFlinderginder

    Jesus told his followers to sell all their possessions and give it to the poor. I wonder if Graham has done that yet.

    August 20, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  24. Michael

    It is sad really. It is obvious that he has learned nothing from his father. Billy Graham would have never said such a thing. Wow, has Christianity come to this? Such a shame!

    August 20, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  25. patrick downey

    The "accusation" that Obama is a Moslem reminds me of Nazi Germany when the onus of being a Jew was enough to warrant a death penalty. I'm ashamed of the intolerance and ignorance of too many pseudo Christians.

    August 20, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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