Bishop T.D. Jakes blasted the son of the Rev. Billy Graham Sunday for questioning President Barack Obama’s religious faith in a recent television interview.Appearing on “Washington Watch with Roland Martin,” Jakes accused the Rev. Franklin Graham of hypocrisy stemming from comments he made last month on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour” and said the North Carolina-based evangelical minister owes the president an apology.
Bishop T.D. Jakes (above) blasted the son of The Rev. Billy Graham for questioning President Barack Obama’s religious faith.
“I find it insulting,” said Jakes, chief pastor of the Potter’s House, a 30,000-member non-denominational mega-church in Dallas. “We didn’t question the Christianity of President Bush when he said he accepted Christ, and I’m disappointed in Rev. Franklin Graham in that regard.”
In an Easter Sunday interview, Amanpour asked Graham if it bothered him that people like potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump questioned Obama’s birthplace and his religious affiliation. Graham replied: “As it relates to Muslim, there are so many people that wonder where he really stands on that.”
“Now, he has told me that he is a Christian,” said Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “But the debate comes, what is a Christian.”
“For him, going to church means he’s a Christian,” Graham added. “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. That’s the definition of a Christian, it’s not as to what church you’re a member or. A membership doesn’t make you a Christian.”
White House officials didn’t hide their contempt for Graham’s comments the following day.“I would just say I think it’s unfortunate that a religious leader would choose Easter Sunday to make preposterous charges,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “and I’ll leave it at that.”Jakes told Martin that he wished Graham had the diplomacy of his famous father, “who brought the gospel to people without being nuanced by politics because when you do those things, you offend people that you are actually called to save and to serve.”
“And I would hope that he would see the rationale in apologizing for such statements – because if the president’s faith is suspect, then all of our faiths are suspect because the Bible is quite clear about what it takes to be saved, and the president has been quite open about his accepting Christ and him openly confessing it before men,” Jakes said. “And if it’s good enough for the Bible, it ought to be good enough for the rest of us.”
Some media-watching organizations panned Amanpour’s Graham interview, saying she gave an open and uncontested microphone to a "someone who doesn’t think Obama was born in the United States.
Graham is no stranger to controversial statements. The U.S. Army disinvited him from participating last year in a National Day of Prayer event at the Pentagon because of statements he’s made in the past about Islam.
After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Graham said Islam “is a very evil and wicked religion” even though then-President George W. Bush went to great lengths to say that the attacks were conducted by evil men and had nothing to do with one of the world’s oldest religions.
But that didn’t stop Graham from telling ABC News five years later that “I know about Islam. I don’t need an education from Islam. If people think Islam is such a wonderful religion, just go to Saudi Arabia and make it your home.”
And last year Graham told CNN that he thought Islam was a “very violent religion.”