The political news cycle has been dominated by issues of faith this week. On Tuesday, the Rev. Franklin Graham ignited a fire storm following comments he made (or didn't make, for that matter) about President Barack Obama's Christian faith on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." During a Wednesday interview with CNN, he attempted to clarify these statements.
"Do you question the faith of our president?," host Kyra Phillips asked. The question, of course, reflected the same sentiment that was posed to the reverend the day before.
"Listen, the president has said that he is a Christian and we'll just leave it at that...Only God knows the heart of all of these candidates...as it comes down to the candidates, it's really the issues that are the issue here," Graham explained.
Then, the real element at the center of his opposition to President Obama emerged: Abortion.
"I cannot...vote for the president because of abortion," he explained. "He supports abortion and I just cannot support that. The other candidates are more in line with my views on this..."
Graham clearly felt the need to delve deeper. His comments, though they may remain unsavory to those who defend Obama and his stance on the issue, do provide greater insight into why the faith leader has had a difficult time overtly calling Obama a Christian.
"The president supports [abortion]. He's going against what the Bible teaches," Graham explained. "The Bible is very clear about life and where life begins and I believe that the president is going against what the holy scriptures teach."
Of course, there were a few awkward moments, particularly when Phillips said, "it sounds like you're getting political here...it sounds like you're a Republican in preacher's clothing."
Watch the interview, below:
And here's the awkward MSNBC interview that started the initial debate:
If you missed the Rev. Al Sharpton's bizarre response to Graham's initial comments, you can find that here as well.
Even in the CNN interview, Graham declined to call Obama a Christian. Commentary Magazine's Peter Wehner took particular issue with this, writing:
The problem here is Graham is judging President Obama’s faith commitment based on a political, not a theological, basis. What Graham seems to be arguing is that Obama is a liberal, he’s wrong on “moral issues,” and so a question mark has to be put over the faith of the president, who has spoken in moving terms about his own journey to Christianity. [...]
This is dangerous territory for Graham to reside in. For one thing, it sounds as if the Reverend Graham is questioning whether one can be a political liberal and a Christian at the same time. Of course one can be and to suggest otherwise is offensive.
Where do you stand? Is Graham right in his refusal to call Obama a Christian? Take the poll: