Evangelist Franklin Graham suggested that President Barack Obama has close ties to Islam, and stated emphatically that the president was "born" Muslim.
Questioned about Obama's faith and the controversy over a proposed ground zero mosque, the son of America's most legendary preacher told CNN's John King on Thursday that Americans have to accept the fact that the president says he is indeed a Christian.
Here is an excerpt from the show's transcript:
KING: Do you, sir, have any doubts about this president's Christian faith?
GRAHAM: Well, first of all, 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. Now it's obvious that the president has renounced the Prophet Muhammad and he has renounced Islam and he has accepted Jesus Christ. That's what he says he has done. I cannot say that he hasn't.
So I just have to believe the president is what he has said. But he – the confusion is, is because his father was a Muslim, he was born a Muslim. The Islamic world sees the president as one of theirs. That's why Qaddafi calls him "my son". They see him as a Muslim but of course the president says he is a Christian and we just have to accept it as that. ...
Well, you know, you can be born a Muslim. You can be born a Jew. But you can't be born a Christian. The only way you can become a Christian is by confessing your sins to God, asking his forgiveness and by receiving Jesus Christ by faith into your heart. ...
King then asked Graham if the president "should be more demonstrable, more open about his faith?"
Graham said the president should make his own choice about how he professes his faith, but took issue with Obama's involvement in the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Church in Chicago before becoming president.
"I wish the president over the years have had a chance to be involved in a real strong bible-teaching church. I don't think Reverend Jeremiah's church was a place where he got all grounded in God's word. It would have been better for him to – you know, get into a good evangelical church."
Graham also used his appearance to reiterate his opposition to a proposed mosque near ground zero.
"The debate is, should the Muslims build a mosque right at the foot of the World Trade Center that was destroyed by Muslims in the name of Islam?
"That's like – listen, this is like going back to Auschwitz and the Germans wanting to put up in memorial to their fallen soldiers during World War II. The Germans can certainly put up a memorial to World War II soldiers that fell during the war, but to put it at the gate of Auschwitz would just not be appropriate. And there's sensitivity here.
"And I think the Muslims – they have a right to build it there. But I think the Muslims in the name of decency and respect for the New Yorkers that lost their families and their loved ones, they need to pull back and build the mosque somewhere else."
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