White House Rebukes Franklin Graham for 'Preposterous Charges'
Samaritan's Purse president Franklin Graham addressed questions about President Obama's birthplace and religious beliefs on ABC's This Week that aired on Sunday. White House spokesman Jay Carney chided Graham for his comments after Graham told host Christiane Amanpour that there were still unanswered questions.
"I would just say I think it's unfortunate that a religious leader would choose Easter Sunday to make preposterous charges," Carney said at the end of yesterday's press briefing.
Graham, who told Christianity Today that his ABC interview was taped a week before Easter, stood by his comments. "I respond[ed] to a question. I'm not going out making speeches about where the President was born. I could care less," he said. "I'll continue to answer reporters' questions."
Graham's comments on Obama come on the heels of other recent remarks. Last month, Graham told Newsmax that the Muslim Brotherhood is "very strong and active" in the United States.
"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?'" Graham said.
Amanpour asked Graham if he was bothered by those who were raising questions about President Obama's birthplace or his religion. "Birthers" have questioned whether Obama was born in the U.S., a theory that has been debunked by many fact checkers.
"Well, the president, I know, has some issues to deal with here," Graham said. "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. 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."
Graham's comments on Obama's birthplace sound similar to Michelle Bachmann's (R-Minn.) answer to a question in her interview with Christianity Today. She, too, said the issue would be easily resolved if the President would produce a birth certificate. A few days later, ABC's George Stephanopoulos showed Bachmann a copy of the birth certificate. "Well, then, that should settle it," Bachmann said.
Graham also addressed the question of whether Obama is a Christian.
"As it relates to Muslim: there are many people that do wonder where he really stands on that," Graham said. "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."
Peter Wehner, who served in the Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush administrations, said Graham was putting words in Obama's mouth.
"The problem is that President Obama has never claimed that the definition of Christianity is church attendance," said Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. "What Franklin Graham said, then, is simply not accurate; Obama has been as explicit about his Christian faith as a public figure can be. And yet for Graham it isn't enough; like Obama's citizenship, this matter needs to be cloaked in mystery, even where none exists."
Richard Land, who was also a guest on This Week, said that those who believe Obama is a Muslim are "irrational" and "a little imbalanced." Land said Obama is "a very typical 21st-century mainline Protestant."