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Rev. Franklin Graham blasted by White House for birther comments

Rev. Franklin Graham blasted by White House for birther comments

The Reverend Billy Graham is well known for his solid relationship to the White House over the last twelve Presidents dating back to Harry Truman.  He is number seven on Gallup's list of widely admired people for the 20th century. He has worked very hard to cement his relationship with the White House, even when he did not personally agree with the politics of some of the presidents over the years; he did not care for John F. Kennedy's Catholicism, for instance, and worked to get Nixon elected, but when Kennedy won, Billy Graham respected the office and the man.  When it comes to relationships with US Presidents, his son, Franklin Graham, may be walking on some pretty thin ice undoing the work his father has done over many years.

The White House angrily denounced Franklin Graham's remarks about President Obama's birth certificate Monday, while doing an interview on ABC's "This Week" on Easter Sunday.  FoxNews reports:

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said comments by Rev. Franklin Graham that there were issues surrounding President Obama's birth were "preposterous charges."

Graham, who has met with Obama before, appeared on ABC's "This Week" and was asked about people like Donald Trump bringing up questions about the president's birth. "Well, the — 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 Asheville, North Carolina, and I know that my records are there," Graham said.

"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 — he could answer pretty quickly," he added.

Carney, in an abrupt answer, reacted and said, "It's interesting that a minister would use Easter Sunday to make preposterous charges."

MediaMatters adds:

It's stunning that ABC would lead its Easter edition of This Week by hosting Graham. He was, after all, uninvited from a National Prayer Day ceremony at the Pentagon last year after calling Islam "evil" and counseling Muslims that "they don't have to die in a car bomb."

Amanpour seemed to make a brief reference to this during the interview, telling Graham: "You've made some very controversial comments about Islam, about Muslims, including on our program, when we had our town hall that you joined us on a few months ago. Do you still feel that there is a real divide between Islam and Christianity in this country?"

Apparently so.  Graham wasn't finished yet.  He also questioned the President's Christianity, which seemed to mean he did not think President Obama was a Christian, yet ending his remarks with the obligatory remark that "only God knows the heart:"

"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 are a member of. A membership doesn't make you a Christian," Graham said.

The reverend said he does take the president at his word on that. "Well, when he says it, of course, I can't — I'm not going to say, "Well, no, you're not." I mean, God — God is the only one who knows his heart."

Graham ended the interview by stating that secularism is the "anti-Christ."
Carney also scoffed at media reports calling out the White House for not releasing a statement commemorating Easter on Sunday, explaining Obama and his family attended church services in Washington. 

The White House has issued press statements on major Muslim holidays.

"The president went to church yesterday, it was well-covered. I'm not sure if we put out a statement or not. He obviously personally celebrated Easter with his family," he said.

When a reporter asked how Carney could not know whether the White House issued a statement, Carney shot back, "I'm glad you are asking me these key important questions, guys.

"As a devoted Christian, he believes it is a very important holiday for him personally, his family and people all around the country," he added.

The White House also hosted the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and President Obama hosted a Passover Seder at the White House.    President Obama has had difficulty with the religious right; Franklin Graham has said previously that he believed President Obama was a Muslim, a myth that, like the birth certificate, has resurfaced again and again amongst some on the conspiratorial right.   The White House produced a certificate of live birth in June 2008.  Factcheck.org has concluded that the Certificate of Live Birth is enough to prove US citizenship: (see scans of the birth certificate as well).
In June, the Obama campaign released a digitally scanned image of his birth certificate to quell speculative charges that he might not be a natural-born citizen. But the image prompted more blog-based skepticism about the document's authenticity. And recently, author Jerome Corsi, whose book attacks Obama, said in a TV interview that the birth certificate the campaign has is "fake." 

We beg to differ. FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as "supporting documents" to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.

Update, Nov. 1: The director of Hawaii’s Department of Health confirmed Oct. 31 that Obama was born in Honolulu.

 

The interview could not be embedded, as embedding was disabled, but for the entire piece with Franklin Graham and Christine Amanpour, go here.
Evangelist Franklin Graham surely must have forgotten the sage advice from a verse in Proverbs, about a fool holding his tongue and "being counted wise." 

About Dakota O'Leary

Dakota O'Leary is a freethinker, and often sassy, scholar of theology and literature. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Literature from Antioch University-Midwest. She is a contributing writer focusing on eschatology, biblical prophecy, and general religious news. Dakota is a co-host of the God Discussion radio show, offering insight to the news stories of the week. We like to call her "our in-house Biblical prophecy expert" as her articles on eschatology have received over 200,000 views on God Discussion.
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