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. B in FL

    To Christy C – "When was the last time liberals defended Christianity"

    You, my dear, are part of the problem...not the solution! Enough said!!

    August 20, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  2. Linda from Carolina

    Franklin Graham shows his ignorance with his opinion. This supposed man of the cloth is a hate-monger. He has said the most offensive thing about Islam, one of the three major religions of the world, along with Judaism and Christianity.

    Dear so, for your information, you were born a Muslim too. The definition of the word Muslim is, "One who submits to the will of God".

    Are you a submissive person? Are you more intelligent than arrogant. You spew your hate speech all over the world and you expect people to go along with you. I sir am a practicing Muslim and have been for more than thirty years. I experience peace and tranquility through the love of Allah and my fellow man.

    I believe that you are just as much a terrorists as the extremists who have place such an ugly face on this beautiful religion. After the explosion in Oklahoma City, I did not see you or your father condemn Christianity the way you have Islam. There of extremists of all persuasions. Is Christianity of the devil since Timothy McVeigh called himself one? Is Christianity of the devil because of the crusades? You sir need the understand that just as you have a right to your opinion, the people whom you call terrorists have the right to theirs as well.

    For all the good that the world has to offer, by way of simple people, such as myself, I pray that this goodness will conquer all ills. the manner in which you have addressed my religion has caused me to have no reqpect for you at all. You are not judge and jury. Only God , Allah, has that ultimate privilege.

    I wich you'd take the time to educate yourself about other religions before you go casting stones. You are not a perfect person, and I don't know anyone who is. This world needs peace in order for us to exist.

    It is my prayer that you will one day have the understanding you need to stop demonizing a religion that is the only inclusive religion that exists. There is no denial of any of the God's prophets. The book of religion that I live my life by says, "to you be your religion, to me mine"!

    Peace be unto you!
    Linda from Carolina

    August 20, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  3. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    I agree. He's entitled to his opinion as I am entitled to mine. My opinion is that Franklin Graham is a complete dipwad and anyone who listens to his opinion is also a dipwad.

    August 20, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  4. JameyC

    So I guess that makes Graham a fruitcake.

    August 20, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  5. Julian E, (Phoenix ,AZ)

    This response is to @ Augsbee, and those with no sense of culture. What you saw is OBAMA in a traditional African robe and not a MUSLIM gown. You need to start travelling beyond your backyard, or enroll in school to study culture to improve your understanding on diversity.

    August 20, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. once upon a horse

    I saw on CNN last night that when asked where they got their information from that Obama was a Muslim, most of those who think he is got their information from media sources and news channels. Now let's guess which "news" channel these folks got this from, shall we! "FEAR and MISINFORMATION has been part of the Republican mantra for many a year and they are very good at it. Instead of coming across with facts, they know that most of the folks who lean to the right won't even bother to fact-check, just believe what they are told by their party leaders. They also are aware of the current mood in the nation about a fear and mistrust of Islam. Just another way to get people to mistrust the president and from those polled a majority that think he is Muslim ALSO don't like or trust him so it figures.

    August 20, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  7. Marta

    I'm so appalled by this religious and political rhetoric. We're all from Abraham's seed Mr. Graham, Jew, Muslim and Christian alike. I think there is a commandment about bearing false witness, amazing how willing the religious right is to break this commandment. It is why it so important to keep separate Church and State. I have never seen a President treated in this manner. We elected him to run this country and considered him our best choice. I still believe that. Let him do his job!

    August 20, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  8. malabar

    It must b hard being a christian democrat knwing so many in your party thnk you are an ignorant inbred moron because of your faith. and yet, those same hateful bloodfarts vote time after time for candidates who claim to b christian. the left is truly scizophrenic. btw, u libs are right about 1 thng, the dumbing down of America will b its demise. just look at ur own comments and how uninformed they are about religion. heck, just look at the novice u sheeple chose over the exceedingly better qualified hillary

    August 20, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  9. Julian E, (Phoenix ,AZ)

    This is why more and more people are now taking the passenger seat on this Christian religious train. It only confirms the fears of the native Africans about the white man and his religion: they offer us the Bibile, which they do not believe in, and once the Africans welcomed Christianity, they became pertual slaves to the White people who then went on rampage to take every God's given resources in their land "in the name of God." History has a way of repeating itself, and people from other regions of the world have taken note. Any wonder why the Arabs in the Middle East sees the White man's interest in the Gulf as based only on their interest for oil?

    August 20, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  10. ingrid

    If Obama says he is christian. Good enough for me. Why do our Presidents have to be overtly religious. I think religion is personal. Not saying that some presidents are not driven by their beliefs ( ahem, Bush) but this need to appear religious is for public consumption. My goodness, he went to church for 20 years with his family. You might not like his minister, but that is besides the point.

    Moreover, this need to questions Obama's religion is just another way for the far right to create a narrative that he is "different."

    And as a side note: For the record, in response to those of you who are intent on just describing Obama as a community organizer, he was also a constitutional professor at Chicago University law school, one of the best law schools in the country, as well as a practicing lawyer. He is a very smart guy. Being an editor on the Harvard Review is extremely difficult to do as its based on a high grade point average as well as people skills. So enough already of you who keep on just labeling him a " community organizer."

    August 20, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  11. Kristin

    Since when did MUSLIM become a bad word? So what if he was Muslim? Nearly one fifth of the world population follows Islam. Fox Entertainment acts like they are all suicide bombers in sleeper cells here in American just waiting to attack. When its fox doing the attacking.

    NO FOX

    August 20, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. Sherry

    Rev. Franklin Graham obviously didn't inherit very much from his father's gene pool OR learn much from his father. How sad for him.

    August 20, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  13. Shelly

    The right wing have become so proficient at making irrational and ridiculous judgements. To most reasonable Americans they are absolute NUTS!!!
    These nuts have done NOTHING for this country but spread fear and hate. They are the cause of the division, anger and anxiety in this country.
    Let the President do his job instead of disturbing and distracting him every minute.....He is doing his best to restore this Nation! Give him a break!

    August 20, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  14. Sick&TiredOfTheLooneys

    Some idiots will do anything for attention, even speaking about issues that donot concern them, i.e. palin, newt, & now graham. So I guess he thinks he is an evangelist simply because he is the seed of his father the evangelist? Some one should tell him he IS NOT!

    August 20, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. the real ib

    people aren't reading what he said before they post. Rev. Graham said he is now a Christian but was born a Muslim which is what the belief is by the Muslims. You are just using this as an excuse to put Rev. Graham down and take up for your Obama. Disgusting.

    August 20, 2010 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  16. Scot

    Please Bill before you pass on to what you have been beliving in and preaching for so many years get that son of yours under control be fore he ruins your good name any more.

    August 20, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  17. George of the jungle

    I guess if your father was a robber you would be to because of the seed! How stupid. If that was the case a whole lot of people would be in big trouble. Let's face it Americans are just getting dumber by the minute. Thats what comes of watching Fox news. Who cares what religion the president practices. Get a grip people. Muslims are not all terriorest so grow up. Maybe we should ban Priests. or Mormons . The president is more of a christian than a lot of the christians that keep harassing him. I know a guy whos last name is einsteine,He must be smart right or how aboutIf your dad is a drunk are you it is in the seed you know. What trash.

    August 20, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  18. Paul nyc

    Artie wrote:
    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 !!

    1. Senator Obama took the oath of office on his family's Christian Bible,
    2), President Obama took the Presidential Oath on the same Christian Bible President Lincoln used.
    3). The statement about the Community Center was a statement about the rigt of all Americans to worship as they choose.

    Wrong on all three counts. Wonder where you got your information.

    August 20, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  19. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Yes, and I was born mentally challenged because my father was or I was born with a tatoo because my father has one or I was born with one arm and leg because my father was or I was born with a penny in my pocket because my father only had a penny in his pocket. Come on now, let's raise the bar of intelligence.

    August 20, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  20. Paul nyc

    Dawn wrote:
    "Okay geniuses : According to muslims, if a child is born to a non muslim mother but the dad is a muslim, then the child is by DEFAULT considered to be a muslim. It is indeed passed down through the father If the father is a muslim, then according to muslims, all children sired by him are muslims."

    As you note, 'according to Muslims' but so what, Obama chose Christianity. Everyone in America gets to choose their own faith or no faith. It matters not what anyone else thinks.

    August 20, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  21. AC

    It doesn't matter what the Republican's say, President Obama will be elected again, only next time the numbers will double. They have know ideas, or solutions--just lies!!! There are more people in the middle class & poor class then in the rich & wealthy class--that is why he will be re-elected!!! There is nothing the Republican's can do about it.

    August 20, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  22. they call me "tater salad"

    Now the right-wing dipshits want you to believe your BORN into religion!......... WTF?!.....Get a grip!

    August 20, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  23. Carz

    Anyone know where I can purchase some of those "Muslim seeds"?

    August 20, 2010 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  24. The Truth Please...I Just Want The Truth

    The "seed of Islam" is passed through the father?

    Franklin Graham should know better than to say something like this. Not only is this statement bad theology, I also suspect that it was made for partisan political reasons.

    August 20, 2010 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  25. Dave

    "Opinion" it is not an opinion or interpretation, sorry, it is Sharia and the rules of it that determines that a son of a Muslim is a Muslim (especially if the wife is Muslim, Christian, Zorostrian or Jewish).
    Sorry for the white house which cannot tell "opinions" from "facts" and thus dodging and telling half truths open the door for loonies to claim things about the president. Stand where you are, stand for something for God's sake! So much lack ofclarity on all issues and important policies that this became a "PR"esidency rather than presidency!

    August 20, 2010 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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