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. Ridgeway

    Ok he's a Christian what ever. Ok Joel you're a goofy, moron with roids. Obama's biggest problem is he has no idea what he's doing. All of you leftists and socialist can say the right is nuts blah, blah...
    I defy one of you to name one working achievement your knuckle headed leader has to his credit. I will even accept something before he was President. But wait there's more just name one thing this twit has ever done to make the world a better place for you personally.
    Well, as Ted Knight would say, "I'm waiting."

    August 20, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  2. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Dear Franklin Graham,

    Why would you make such an ignorant statement? Barack Obama was raised by his Christian grandparents. His father, left when he was born and went back to Africa.

    As a Christian, Mr. Graham, you need to be careful that you stand for TRUTH!

    August 20, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  3. Rick in AZ

    Religious people are both gullible and delusional!!

    August 20, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  4. wittgenstein

    This non-story is why this country is in such dire trouble; ignorance of such stunning magnitude is now commonplace, and while we wallow in faux 'debates' that are mostly attempts by agenda driven shadow entities to manipulate those who are vulnerable to such simplistic junk, other countries are surging ahead of us in science and economic development. If the people who load public media with this nonsense had their way, we'd be living like a version of medieval Bulgaria.
    Please. For once, let this drivel die, and let's get on with the business of getting this country back on its feet again.

    August 20, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  5. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    the Rev Graham should know this....NOBODY is born into ANY religion. It is a learned institution. Both my parents were Christians when I was born, but basically I was born an ATHEIST UNTIL I was raised to be a Christian..after I reached a certain age it became my choice to what religion if any I would follow. The president's father may have been a Muslim but that did not automatically mean he was one just by birthright. I still fail to see what difference it makes if he is one or not, it's only another fear tatic that the far-right is using to say that "he is NOT one of us" and only the one's with limited minds follow such tactics.

    August 20, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Maybe we can imprison Bush and Cheney for 30 years for lying to congress.

    August 20, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  7. Barry

    President Obama is a christian, Graham had the seed of inbreeding passed to him by his father.

    August 20, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  8. Tom-Vermillion Ohio

    I swear, religion is going to be the ruination of this country. This should not be discussed any more. Case closed. End of story.

    August 20, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  9. Dot

    Curious here...who cares & why do we care what religion anyone choses to practice. As for the president he said he was a christian & that is good enough for me.
    Does not matter what our parents are/were as all of us have free will, and thank goodness we use it!
    Besides is any one even a bit offended by this issue? I am almost emberassed that this is an issue yet again. I think we have a ton of other things to do!

    August 20, 2010 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  10. Blanche

    Have we all (even the clergy) gone crazy?
    Rev Billy Graham is probably praying full time for his son , because he definitely needs the lords guidance.
    Rev Franklin Graham is a disgrace to the Evangelical flock.
    How can anyone, even the public buy into a statement that a child is born into a religion?
    I can not believe that Franklin Graham who not to long ago sat with his father and President Obama and prayed.
    If he thought or felt in his heart that President Obama is or was a Muslim, why be a coward, why did he not mention or discuss or say this to the Presidents face after the prayer session. Here's a novel idea.....what about saying this to the Presidents face Reverend Graham? No you're just another member of the clergy who holds the position of power over people of faith and you feel they will believe anything. Well not everyone believes everything clergy say anymore. What a pity, I guess you're just a "Human Being".
    No wonder people are no longer going to church.

    August 20, 2010 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  11. AZ DEM

    Augsbee- Whether its the Dems or the Republicans it really doesn't matter honestly. The fact that it is even an issue is the point that I'm speaking of.

    August 20, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. Rob NY

    What a clown this guy is. Someone sprayed him with the seed of stupidity. The White House shouldn't bother responding to such nonsense.

    August 20, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. KeithTexas

    You don’t have to be very bright to be a fundamentalist Christian. They prove it every day, so why is Franklin Graham’s opinion worthy of printing. There is not much real news, so printing this crap will incite a little discussion and maybe CNN can keep people interested until there is some real news.

    August 20, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. Jim

    Yes, truly toleran this Graham guy. Just curious, is the seed of Christianity passed through the father? Because if so, I want to give it back.

    August 20, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  15. B in FL

    It's appalling how 9/11 has caused this country to be a nation of intolerant wimps...GUESS WHAT WIMPS....Al Queda beat you!!!! I was "born" a Christian but believe that everyone has a right to their own religion and I am so sick of people painting Muslims with the same brush as they do Al Queda, as though there were never any radical Christians through the times....get over it people. Our President isn't a Muslim and, even if he is, who cares??? This is America, remember the Country that you all love so much. Those that are now against freedom of religion & against all Muslims are the ones that are being un-American. But, I know, you love this country, right? Anyone, it's my belief that religion will kill off the human race. We're no less barbaric than in ancient times and it's very, very sad.

    August 20, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  16. Andy CT

    As a woman, Thank you Mr. Graham. Enough said.

    August 20, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  17. John

    Graham doesn't know what a real Christian is.

    August 20, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  18. Indiana Voter

    Graham is right. However, it is fun watching the blind try to rebut his statement with name calling, simply because they have no idea what they are talking about. All liberals can do really good is name call.

    August 20, 2010 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  19. T'SAH from Virginia

    My father was an army WWII Veteran – therefore, I'm a SOLDIER in the US Army!

    My mother was a Police Officer – therefore, I'm an MP in the US Army!!

    My grandfather was a Surgeon – therefore, I'm an MP Medic in the US Army!!

    My grandmother was Catholic – therefore, I'm a Catholic MP Medic in the US Army!!!

    August 20, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  20. Baptist Buddha

    I was born a Baptist and then I attained the age of reason and became Buddhist.....guess my father was unable to pass his seeds!!

    August 20, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  21. Peter s

    Augsbee!!! Its my first time to hear that, religion can be passed through sperm!. I thought its only life made through sperms and ovules. The right wing extremists are out of control! its it because its too hot outside and people with small brains are the ones most affected? just trying to come with a theory like the Rev Graham.

    August 20, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  22. The Progressive and Media rape of America ends the first week of November 2010

    Regardless of his religion Barack Hussien Obama is unfit to President of the United States.

    August 20, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  23. Geoff

    A sad offspring from a notable sire. But this horse knows the hand that feeds him – rightwing partisans and the dull-knife wing of the evangelical party.

    August 20, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. Angy

    And they wonder were all this talk is coming from. add graham jr to the list of wackos with beck, rush, palin,hannity. And they call themselves Christians. How sad.

    August 20, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  25. Hugo

    I would have to believe that Obama being a super elite intellect Harvard educated Constitutional law professor community organizer would think God a spoof. You see liberals see themselves as intelligent and since the belief of a super being is non definable they could never truly believe in something so silly. They do see however that most of the sheep that buy their stupid and flawed philosophies are readily manipulated through this magic tool of mass manipulation so they proclaim themselves Christians (since we are a predominantly Christian Nation) to get the sheeple votes. It is not what we believe in our hearts anymore of right and wrong, we are now on the precipice of doing what you have to do to take care of you and yours. A Muslim sympathizer in the position of President is a very dangerous thing in these times....Hey how about that old Joe Biden, Dems retain control of House and Senate, yeah right, right after recovery summer is over....Where are the jobs?

    August 20, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
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