Franklin Graham questions Obama’s Christian beliefs, calls Santorum ‘a man of faith’

Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Tuesday raised questions about the sincerity of President … Continued

Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Tuesday raised questions about the sincerity of President Obama’s Christian faith.

When asked by “Morning Joe” panelists why he was willing to say that former House speaker Newt Gingrich was a Christian but expressed doubt that President Obama is, Graham said:

Graham, who works as president and CEO of the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, also suggested that Obama became a Christian for strategic rather than spiritual reasons during his time working as a community organizer in Chicago.

Graham was asked by the “Morning Joe” hosts about his past controversial comments about the Muslim lineage of Obama’s father. “You’ve said in the past that since President Obama’s father was Muslim, that President Obama has ‘the seed of Islam,’ I believe you put it, in his blood.”

Here’s how Graham responded:

Graham’s remarks came on the heels of comments by GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, accusing Obama of “phony theology.”

The Pew Forum’s polling has found that, despite the president’s candor about his Christian faith, 43 percent of Americans are unsure about his religion, and nearly one-in-five people believe he is Muslim.

At the time, Pew found that “beliefs about Obama’s religion are closely linked to political judgments about him. Those who say he is a Muslim overwhelmingly disapprove of his job performance, while a majority of those who think he is a Christian approve of the job Obama is doing.”

On “Morning Joe” Graham also commented on the spiritual lives of three of the other potential Republican candidates:

— Rick Santorum: “A very sharp guy, as far as a Christian faith we would be more in line. . . .He is no question a man of faith.”

— Newt Gingrich: “I think Newt is a Christian. At least he told me he is.”

— Mitt Romney:“Christians would not recognize Mormonism as part of the Christian faith.”

Charles Dharapak

AP

Republican presidential candidates before a debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Monday, Jan. 16, 2012.

Graham’s religious politicking might fit right into our current milieu, but in a 2011 interview with Christianity Today’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Franklin’s father Billy Graham expressed regret for getting too mixed up in politics during his heyday:

About

Elizabeth Tenety Elizabeth Tenety is the former editor of On Faith, where she produced "Divine Impulses," On Faith’s video interview series. She studied Theology and Government at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A New York native, Elizabeth grew up in the home of Catholic news junkies where, somewhere in between watching the nightly news and participating in parish life, she learned to ponder both the superficial and the sacred.
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