Rev. Franklin Graham's comments on President Barack Obama's birth certificate, views on presidential politics and his charge that the Muslim Brotherhood has influence in U.S. State Department and military have come into the spotlight this week.
A White House spokesman on Monday, reacting to a reporter's question on comments attributed to Graham from comments in an article published online in March and a taped broadcast airing on Easter Sunday said they were preposterous.
Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, said Wednesday he regretted being misunderstood.
Below are comments from Graham in a March article by Newsmax.com, an interview on Sunday with ABC's This Week, comments on Monday by White House Spokesman Jay Carney, comments from Graham on Tuesday in Christianity Today, and comments on Wednesday he made on Sean Hannity's Fox News Channel show.
March 18, 2011 - Comments by Graham in an article by Newsmax.com
The Muslim Brotherhood is very strong and active here in our country, Graham told Newsmax. We have these people advising our military and State Department. We've brought in Muslims to tell us how to make policy toward Muslim countries.
It's like a farmer asking a fox, 'How do I protect my hen house?'
The group is fomenting much of the rebellion and the deteriorating social order roiling in the Middle East, forcing millions of Christians to flee for their lives, Graham said, according to the report.
Under [Egypt's Hosni] Mubarek and [Jordan's] King Hussein and other moderate leaders, Christians had been protected, Graham said. Eleven million Christians live in Egypt and I fear for them, because if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power, you're going to see a great exodus of Christians. Same thing in Tunisia and Lebanon. I fear for the church because the Muslim Brotherhood is going to be a very terrible thing.
April 24, 2011 -Excerpts of Franklin Graham on ABC's This Week with Christianne Amanpour
AMANPOUR: You have traveled to Haiti with Sarah Palin.
AMANPOUR: Is she the kind of candidate you would like to see run for election? Would she be your candidate of choice?
GRAHAM: I don't think Sarah's going to -- I don't think she likes politics. I think she likes speaking on the issues, and I agree with many of the issues that she brings up, but I believe -- I don't see her as running for president.
AMANPOUR: If she did, would you support her? Would she be your candidate?
GRAHAM: It depends on who the other candidates are.
AMANPOUR: So, that's not a yes.
GRAHAM: No. I mean, we're so early. But I do like Sarah.
AMANPOUR: Well, there are people in right now. Would you support Mitt Romney, would you support --
GRAHAM: I've met --
AMANPOUR: -- Donald Trump?
GRAHAM: I've met Mitt Romney. No question he is a -- he's a very capable person, he's proven himself. Donald Trump, when I first saw that he was getting in, I thought, well, this has got to be a joke. But the more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, you know? Maybe the guy's right. So, there's a --
AMANPOUR: So, he might be your candidate of choice?
GRAHAM: Sure, yes, sure.
AMANPOUR: Does it bother you that people like Donald Trump for instance right now, are making another huge big deal about birth certificates and whether he's a Muslim or a Christian and where he was born?
GRAHAM: Well, the president, I know, has some issues to deal with here. He can solve this whole birth certificate issue pretty quickly. I don't -- I was born in a hospital in Ashville, North Carolina, and I know that my records are there. You can probably even go and find out what room my mother was in when I was born.
I don't know why he can't produce that. So, I'm not -- I don't know, but it's an issue that looks like he could answer pretty quickly.
As it relates to Muslim, there are many people that do wonder where he really stands on that. Now, he has told me that he is a Christian. But the debate comes, what is a Christian?
For him, going to church means he's a Christian. For me, the definition of a Christian is whether we have given our life to Christ and are following him in faith, and we have trusted him as our Lord and Savior.
That's the definition of a Christian, it's not as to what church you're a member of. A membership doesn't make you a Christian.
AMANPOUR: Do you believe him when he tells you he's a Christian?
GRAHAM: Well, when he says that, of course. I can't -- I'm not going to say, Well, no, you're not. God is the only one who knows his heart.
April 25, 2011 - White House Transcript of Spokesman Jay Carney's Response to Reporter's Question on Graham
Q Thanks, Jay. Another religious question. Yesterday, Franklin Graham said that the President has some issues to deal with when it comes to proving he was born in the United States. And last month the Reverend Graham said also, The Muslim Brotherhood is very strong and active in our country. It's infiltrated every level of our government, meaning your administration. So I want to know if the White House is concerned that a top religious figure is making charges of this nature about the President and his administration.
MR. CARNEY: David, I would just say I think it's unfortunate that a religious leader would choose Easter Sunday to make preposterous charges. And I'll leave it at that.
April 26, 2011 - Excerpts of Franklin Graham Interview With Christianity Today
Q: How would you respond to the White House spokesperson who said, I would just say I think it's unfortunate that a religious leader would choose Easter Sunday to make preposterous charges?
A: First of all, they made a point that I would choose Easter to make these statements. I didn't make these statements on Easter. I taped that a week prior, on Monday that week. It was ABC that [broadcast] this on Easter. I responded to a question. I'm not going out making speeches about where the President was born. I could care less. But when asked, I told Christiane Amanpour that the President has a problem that he could probably address by answering that. How come he doesn't come out at a news conference and hold up his birth certificate? I don't know. I'm only responding to what she asked me. She asked me about Donald Trump. When I first heard about him entering, I thought it was a joke. The more I listen to him, the more I say, Maybe he's right. She asked, Could you vote for him? Vote for him as compared to what? Depends on who else is running. Certainly, America needs somebody like a Donald Trump who's got business experience to get us out of the mess that Republicans and Democrats alike have gotten us into.
Q: Richard Land says that the idea that Obama is a Muslim or is not born in the U.S. is flat nuts? How would you respond to his comments?
A: There are two issues. I do not believe for an instant that Obama is a Muslim. He has said he's not a Muslim. I take him at his word. People say he's not born in the United States. I take it on the word that they properly vetted him before they swore him into office. I'm sure somebody had to look at his credentials. I'm not saying the President is a Muslim, never said he's a Muslim. He says he's a Christian.
There is the issue of his birth. Under Shari'ah law, Islamic law, which is not legal in the United States, he was born a Muslim because his father is a Muslim. That's why [Muammar al-Gaddafi] calls him my son. The President has renounced Islam. He says he believes in Jesus Christ. To the Muslim world that's under Shari'ah law, which we're not, they see him as a lost son. They see him as a wayward child. Shari'ah law is not legal in the United States. You cannot beat your wife. If you think your daughter has been immoral, you cannot kill her. Shari'ah law is the law of Islam and it is not recognized in this country.
Q: You're saying he was born a Muslim because his father is a Muslim?
A: All throughout the Muslim world, every person whose father is a Muslim is recognized under Islamic law as a Muslim.
Q: Obama said his father was a confirmed atheist by the time he was born.
A: That has nothing to do with it. I'm just saying how the Islamic world sees it. I'm not talking about facts. That's how they interpret it. It's not how I interpret it. It goes by birth in the Islamic world. You're considered a Muslim if your father is a Muslim. If your father was a Christian and your mother was an Arab who was born a Muslim, her children would not be considered Islamic because the father was a Christian.
Q: President Obama talks about his faith often. It sounds like you believe he's Christian.
A: I was with President Obama when he was Senator Obama. I asked him, How did you come to faith in Christ? What is your testimony? He said, I was organizing a community in the South Side of Chicago. The community said, 'What church do you go to?' I told them I didn't go to church. If you're going to organize a community, you're going to have to join a church. So he joined Jeremiah Wright's church. That's the testimony he told me, word for word.
The point is, nobody knows. I don't know if you're a Christian. God knows your heart. I'm not your judge. I'm not President Obama's judge. He has to stand before God one day. I'm going to have to stand before God. Only God knows a person's heart. For millions of Americans, being a Christian is being a member of a church. When I read the Bible, Jesus says, There will be many in the last day who say 'Lord, Lord,' but I will say, 'Away from me, I knew you not.' A Christian is a person who identifies himself with Christ, has confessed sin and received Christ into his heart and is following him in obedience. Church membership cannot save you.
Q: On the question of his birthplace, it sounds like you're interested in the President's strategy for dispelling rumors.
A: I don't know. I've never brought that up. It was Christiane Amanpour who brought it up. It was Donald Trump who's bringing it up. I have never brought up his birth certificate as an issue. Like you asking me a question, I will give you a comment. The President could do himself a favor and put it to bed. I don't care. I don't care if he was born in Kansas, if he was born in Hawaii.
Q: Before you go, I wanted to ask you about your comments about Donald Trump. You said, The more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, 'You know? Maybe the guy's right.'
A: Not on the birth issue. I'm talking about the economic issues, how to get our country out of the economic mess we're in.
Q: In terms of the interview we've been talking about, is there anything in the interview that you wish you hadn't said?
A: No. I'm going to try as best as I can to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all audiences. Christiane Amanpour said she wanted to talk about Easter. I think she asked me one question about Easter. The rest of it was about other things. I want to make every effort I can to reach out to the world and let the world know about a God that loves them, who sent his son Jesus Christ. There is no other way to God. I'm going on Hannity tonight, and I'll be with Greta next week [on Fox News]. I'll continue to answer reporters' questions.
April 27, 2011 - Franklin Graham on Sean Hannity's Fox News Channel Program
Q: Let me ask you, you said that Obama -- we've been talking a lot about this church that he went to on Easter. The comments of the pastor that we played, do they bother you?
A: Well, does it bother me? No, it doesn't bother me. I regret that my comments had been misunderstood by the White House. Sean, when I talked about Donald Trump, when Christiane Amanpour asked me about Donald Trump, you know, I find the man a very interesting man and he's got a lot of good ideas and I think he may be right.
Not right about the birth certificate. I wasn't referring to that. I think that's what the White House interpreted. What I was talking about is his ideas about what it is going to take to get the economy of this nation back on track. I believe he does have some good ideas.
I think we ought to listen to some of these ideas. I think the White House would do itself a great favor by asking Donald Trump to come and give them some advice. We are in trouble as a nation. And I just grieve for where the direction we are going.
We've turned our back on God and our government, in our schools and our nation is suffering for it. I think our nation needs to turn back to God. We need to repent as a nation and turn again to the God of our fathers and put our faith and trust in him.
Q: Reverend, you said on the issue, you met with and you prayed with President Obama. And you said for him, going to church means he's a Christian. You have a very different view. Some have interpreted that, that you were questioning his Christian faith. Your reaction?
A: Well, first of all, Sean, for millions of Americans, they may not go to church. They may not have any faith, but because their mother was a Christian or their father was a Christian, they would say, well, I'm a Christian.
So I think for millions of Americans, what church they belong to, for them the definition, well that makes me a Christian. But the Bible has a very clear definition as to a follower of Christ. For me as a minister, I want to -- I'm an evangelist. I want to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that who so ever believe in him shouldn't perish, but have everlasting life.
I want people to know how they can have eternal life and that's through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We can have that assurance at heaven. We can be sure that our sins are forgiven.