Franklin Graham’s Double Standard


Just a few days ago we told you about a good ol’ tactic right-wingers like to use: questioning a politician’s Christianity or claiming the politician is not Christian at all.

This morning it was Franklin Graham’s turn. Graham, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe taking questions from the panel. The conversation went something like this (quotes paraphrased):

MSNBC: Is President Obama a Christian?

Graham: Ask him. I assume he is, but it’s not for me to say.

MSNBC: What about Mormon Mitt Romney, is he a Christian?

Graham: I can’t know what’s in another man’s heart.

MSNBC: Is Rick Santorum a Christian?

Graham: Oh, totally.

MSNBC: But you just said …

Graham: I know what I said. Rick Santorum is a Christian.

MSNBC: Isn’t that a double standard?

Graham: You have to look at what a person does with his life (this one is an actual quote). Oh, and by the way, thrice-married Newt Gingrich is a Christian, too.

You can watch the actual exchange in its entirety here.

If you’ve finished watching the clip and are done beating your head against your desk, click here to read about a coalition of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, and religious liberties organizations that has called for an end to this kind of divisive rhetoric.

18 thoughts on “Franklin Graham’s Double Standard

  1. “You have to look at what a person does with his life.

    Oh, and by the way, thrice-married Newt Gingrich is a Christian, too.”

    I think this was a lesson on Sesame Street years ago about “Some of these things don’t go together.” Franklin must have been at Bible School when Big Bird was telling about this……..

  2. The concept that accepting Jesus as described in the Nicean Creed (325AD) that of Jesus being the Son of God who sacrificed his own life to save us sinful ones, is the definiton of a Christian according to Graham. That is consistent with the Graham tradition of acting as Supreme Healer of Sinful Souls on life TV. It’s great theater.

    Since Emperor Constantine ordered the series of conventions including those at Nicea with the clear intention for the Christians to make up their differences and squabbling or it’s back to the lions. There were winners and losers in this with many of the losers who had longer to commute to conference, and many of these were in the Levant and North Africa. The Gnostics were out. Some of the “books” that were in, were out.

    The Cross wasn’t in until Empress St Helen, Constantine’s mother made it so. Much of the lore of the Holy land was also added by St Helen.

    The net result was a forced agreement on parts that can’t be made to fit (the Trilogy) except by faith. On the other side, what resulted was the inclusion of the adoption of other religions symbols, rites, and ceremonies with a change in the decorations. This allowed Christian missionaries to adapt Christianity to a huge variety of folks, Adn still do.

    The problem that Graham avoids is how does one define what is a Christian to those converted before he died, and those converted before Nicea

  3. I don’t know Ben. Only God can tell for sure. However, if you ask me, I think you are a Christian, judging by what you do rather than what you say.

  4. The MSNBC team is not buying the BS from this hypocritical bigot. (They say “it” skips a generation and Franklin proves the old wive’s tale.)

    “Double standard” is the most polite term that could be employed after listening to Graham’s ignorant slander against the President.


  5. Ha. Thanks, Charles. You realize that could be a compliment or an insult?

    I’m guessing each of us has a different idea what it means to “act like a Christian.”

  6. That was painful to watch, but not because of Graham. The MSNBC crew kept putting words into his mouth. Graham never said Obama wasn’t a Christian, but the crew kept saying, “so by your definition, he’s not a Christian.” Graham never said that. I’m no fan of Graham, but this attack was unfair. I thought he handled himself well.

    He was asked if Romney was a Christian. Graham answered that most people don’t consider Mormons Christian.

    Is Obama a Christian? Graham said to ask him. Obama says he is, but Graham’s observations leave him with some doubt. So Graham assumes he is, but says to go to the sourceif you want to know.

    Newt? “I think Newt is a Christian.”

    Is Santorum a Christian? He didn’t say “oh totally” or anything of the sort. He said that Santorum says he is a Christian, and Santorum’s actions lead Graham to believe he is, so Graham thus thinks that Santorum is a Christian. His actual quotes:
    “I think so.”
    “I believe that he is.”
    “I think he is, no question, I believe he’s a man of faith.”

    I believe the “no question” uttered refers to Graham’s beliefs, not the certainty of Santorum’s faith.

    Don’t misconstrue my comments as support for Graham. I simply feel that his comments in the video were misrepresented by the MSNBC crew and again here. We can disagree with Graham’s views and the focus on personal religion in this election cycle without resorting to falsehoods.

    1. awb,
      We think Rev. Graham expressed considerably more doubt about President Obama’s religious faith. Moreover, he stated pretty strongly that he believes Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich are Christians. As you note, he said of Santorum: “I think he is, no question, I believe he’s a man of faith.” That’s not what he said about the president — he went out of his way to suggest that he does have some question (based on his observations) that the president is a Christian. In making his point, he even argued that President Obama seems to care more about Muslims than Christians. We think our characterization of what he said is fair. It also aligns with how many other observers have described his comments.

      In any case, thanks for your comments.

  7. Based on Graham’s observations, he indicated doubt that Obama is a Christian. He believes Santorum is, based on his observations. In both cases, he said you should ask the individual to be sure. I don’t see a double standard.

    1. awb,
      It’s bad enough that he would call into question the president’s expressed Christian faith. But as far as the double standard goes, even Rev. Graham now acknowledges that he was judging Mr. Santorum’s faith by a different standard:

      Asked about his comments on Rick Santorum, in which Graham definitively said the Republican presidential hopeful was a Christian, the reverend said Wednesday he regretted his choice of words.

      “I misspoke there when I said he is a man of faith. God only knows everybody’s heart,” he said. “I would be more in line with the position of Rick Santorum as it relates to abortion. He is opposed to abortion. I certainly appreciate that.”

  8. You know, it’s not just the right-wing Christians who accuse their non-wingnut fellow Christians of not being Christian. Moderate, normal, sane Christians very often return the favor and say that the right-wing Christian zealots aren’t Christians either.

    Example: Westboro Baptist Church. I can understand why mainstream Christians want to disown those idiots. But if it isn’t up to Franklin Graham (or anybody else) to decide whether or not Obama is a Christian, it’s also NOT up to mainstream Christians to decide whether Westboro members are Christians.

    Agree? Disagree?

  9. What’s wrong with someone saying they don’t think someone else is a Christian? The term “Christian” has a definition, a certain meaning. There are even disagreements between people about what makes a person Christian. The fact that someone says they are a Christian doesn’t necessarily make them one. They may be, or they may not be. They may be sincere, or they may be lying. Graham is in the business of religion, so if he wants to discuss these matters, let him do so.

    Bill Maher says he thinks Obama is an atheist. Is this a problem? No. It’s Bill Maher discussing his opinion.

    To question someone’s professed faith isn’t the problem. They don’t get a free pass just because they say they believe a certain way. If a serial killer claimed to be a church-attending Christian, and Graham went on TV saying he doubts this, nobody would have a problem.

    The problem is that this issue has entered into the public discourse concerning political candidates. It does not belong here. It is being used by those on the right to defame candidates. We all know that no religious test shall be put to a candidate for office. I’m afraid that message is getting lost.

  10. awb, is it up to you to decide who is or isn’t a Christian?

    Who is it up to?

    If you say someone isn’t a Christian, and they say you aren’t a Christian, who’s right?

    I agree with your last paragraph.

  11. Isn’t there a verse somewhere in the New Testament that says you shouldn’t question a fellow believer’s faith? If there isn’t, let’s write one up and slip it in.

  12. Who’s it up to? I don’t know, and I don’t care. Someone saying they’re a Christian could be lying, so just saying it doesn’t make it true.

    But this is beside the point. Saying Obama’s not a Christian isn’t wrong because he claims to be, and no one can assert otherwise. It’s wrong because it has no relevance in the discussion of who should be the next president.

  13. Actually, there is a Bible verse that covers it Ben. Jesus is speaking:

    15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

    True and False Disciples

    21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’


    What Mr. Santorum and Mr. Graham were saying is that Mr. Obama says he is a Christian, but the things he DOES (support abortion) indicate to them that he is not a Christian. By the same token, Mr. Obama and I could build a sizable list of their “DOINGS” that are not particularly Christian either. In my mind, being an active member of the Republican Party, fully supporting its platform, and practicing a slash and burn policy towards children, old people, poor people, and sick people would make Santorum and Graham look unChristian.

    I will close with one of our local grandma hillbilly sayings:

    “Why, you know whut? The things them peoples izza a sayin’ and a doin’. Why hits jist awful!!!!”

  14. “Saying Obama’s not a Christian isn’t wrong because he claims to be, and no one can assert otherwise. It’s wrong because it has no relevance in the discussion of who should be the next president.”

    You could have saved a lot of time and simply made this your first post.