Christmas Under Siege...

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Dec. 15, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: It's that time of the year when Christians are attacked for celebrating Christmas. So why do some people want to take Christ out of the holiday, out of Christmas?

Joining us now is the president of Samaritan's Purse (search ): The Reverend Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, is here with us.

All right. Before we get to the attacks on Christmas, and I want to find out how your dad is doing because so many people are fond of him. Well, let me ask you that — how is he doing?

REVEREND FRANKLIN GRAHAM, PRESIDENT OF SAMARITAN'S PURSE: He is doing quite well. Just finished preaching last month in California at the Rose Bowl (search), 90,000 kids on youth night.

HANNITY: Unbelievable.

GRAHAM: Here he is, 86 years old. And when he stood up to preach, the place was as quiet as any stadium I have ever been in. And all of the kids listened.

As he presented the Lord Jesus Christ, and telling these young people how they can have a relationship with God, telling these kids that God loves them and that Jesus Christ was God's son who died for their sins, and if they would confess their sins and turn from their sins and invite Christ to come into their hearts, that their sins would be forgiven. And 90,000 kids just sat there and listened.

HANNITY: Your dad is not a young preacher that he once was. He is 86 years old.

GRAHAM: No... Eighty-six.

HANNITY: I mean, to have 90,000 kids like that is a real, I think, testimony to him and the person that he has been throughout his life.

GRAHAM: And he's going to be here in New York in June.

HANNITY: I heard. I heard. And that is his last scheduled...

GRAHAM: Last scheduled crusade.

HANNITY: Doesn't mean the last one necessarily...

GRAHAM: No. He said, "Franklin, if I'm feeling good in June, I want to do another one." But right now, this is the last one.

HANNITY: And the thing is — and you and I discussed this earlier — you gave him such a hard time as a rebellious youngster. I mean, that poor father of yours.

GRAHAM: Can you imagine if Alan had been his son?

COLMES: I was a very good youngster, by the way.

HANNITY: I'm now on my ninth year of trying to fix this problem. And, with all due respect, I'm trying to convert and Hannitize him.


COLMES: ... his hair was a little darker when we started, and I gave him a few gray hairs.

HANNITY: Listen, only through prayer and fasting, the Bible says.

Anyway, let me ask you about this, because you know have been involved in this for how many years?

GRAHAM: This is our 12th year...

HANNITY: Twelfth year.

GRAHAM: ... with Operation Christmas Child.

HANNITY: And it's such a great idea. And before we talk about the attacks on Christmas, this is important.


HANNITY: Tell us what you're doing.

GRAHAM: Well, we have collected — these are seven — a little over seven million shoebox gifts. These are packed by churches, by individual families — not everybody belongs to a church — and puts toys for a child, little stuffed animals, a football, you got it, candy, soap, crayons, school supplies, a ball, some of them have flashlights and toothpaste and toothbrushes, those kinds of things.


GRAHAM: And we take these boxes to children in 95 different countries.

You lost the football.

HANNITY: I just dropped your football.

COLMES: I didn't mean for Hannity to get that football...


HANNITY: No, no, I'm putting the football back where it belongs. There we go.

I see you have toothpaste and a toothbrush and candy.

GRAHAM: And we ask people to fill them. And we will take them to children in other countries.

HANNITY: That's great.

GRAHAM: I just got back from Colombia, South America, this week in Cartagena (search). We have a team right now in Russia, in Beslan, where the tragedy took place just a few weeks ago.


GRAHAM: But I ask everybody to pack a box. This is what makes this different. Everybody that packs a box, I want you to pray, pray for the child that's going to get the box. I don't know where it's going, but God knows. And if we have 7 million people praying for 7 million people out there...

HANNITY: That's pretty cool.

GRAHAM: ... 7 million children, I believe God will hear those prayers and answer those prayers.

COLMES: How is it determined who gets these?

GRAHAM: Well, you know, if you give away ten, twenty, anything — how you do it — you do it one gift at a time. And we distribute them through — yes, well — but we distribute them through churches around the world.

We ask the pastors and the churches and their congregations to go into the poorest areas of their community, identify the children, and then we give the boxes to them. They distribute...

COLMES: You give to people of all faiths, people of all backgrounds?

GRAHAM: All backgrounds. Now, of course, I'm a Christian.

COLMES: I think we know.

GRAHAM: I want every child who gets a box, I want them to know the true meaning of Christmas.

COLMES: Yes, yes.

GRAHAM: So, absolutely, I want Jesus Christ to be the center of this project.

HANNITY: Do you put a Bible in there?


HANNITY: You don't.

GRAHAM: But we do have literature that goes with it.

COLMES: When you have seven million people praying — and I do believe in the power of prayer — contrary to what you might think I might really believe. But what do you think — you know, there are stereotypes about liberals.

GRAHAM: Well, not with you.

COLMES: Thank you. What is that power, when seven million people can pray? Explain that, how that works.

GRAHAM: Well, first of all, these children live in poverty. These kids, many of them have never had anybody tell them that someone loves them. And when a pastor invites these kids off the street to come to his church, and he presents a program, gives them this box, tells them that God loves them and this has come from a family in another country, what that does for the child, to encourage them, to lift them up.

And, of course, I want that child to know God's love more than anything else.

COLMES: Right.

GRAHAM: We have had kids now that have come to this country that have been adopted that have now packed boxes and are giving boxes.

COLMES: Do you have any statistics in terms of how many of those kids became Christians or found Jesus Christ?

GRAHAM: No, no, I have no idea.

COLMES: But that's your goal?

GRAHAM: I want every child to know that God loves them. Absolutely.That's my goal. Every kid in the world, I want them to know that.

COLMES: Right.

I want to talk — and we're going to get into this a little bit in the next segment, as well — this issue of Christmas and what it means, and whether or not it is being removed from the public discourse.


COLMES: Can anybody really take your religion away from you? Nobody can do that.


COLMES: Nobody can take your faith away.


COLMES: So this idea that Christ is being taken out of Christmas, nobody can do that.

GRAHAM: And in the Sudan, the church in the Sudan has been attacked. They were going to eliminate the church, wipe it out. It has more than tripled in the last ten years in the Sudan.

The early Christians, the Roman Empire slaughtered them and put them before the lions. The church spread in groups. So is more opposition to Christmas, more opposition to Jesus Christ, the more it's going to spread.

COLMES: But what I keep hearing, that all these liberals or the ACLU (search), whoever the target is, is taking Christmas away from us. We're going to get into this a little further when we come back.

GRAHAM: Good, I'd love that.

COLMES: Whether that can really be accomplished by those groups.

HANNITY: If seven million people prayed for Alan to see the light and become a conservative, would that work, Reverend?

GRAHAM: It would work. It wouldn't take seven million. There's hope for him.



COLMES: It's good to have more than one opinion.

HANNITY: Franklin Graham. We're going to tell you, by the way, how you can join this great effort when we get back.

We now continue with Franklin Graham.

And by the way, is the Web site.

GRAHAM: That's correct.

COLMES: One can go to find out more about this great organization.

The issue of Christmas, and whether or not -- as we started to talk about in the last segment -- can anybody take that away from you? Nobody can do it. No group, no liberal group, who often gets blamed for these things, can take away your Christianness (ph)?

GRAHAM: They're not going to take away my faith, but they are trying to strip it out of our society, which has been a part of our history. And, of course, Christmas not just a holiday season. It's the birth of Jesus Christ.

God sent his son on a rescue mission out of heaven down to this earth for sinners, and I'm a sinner. And Jesus came as a baby born on this earth as a man, grew up, and for 30-some years, lived on this earth and he came to rescue sinners.

God's son, God sent him on a rescue mission. And this is -- listen, Christians have three days in the calendar which are very holy, Christmas, Good Friday and, of course, Easter, the day we celebrate when Christ came from the grave, where he rose again. These are very important holidays.

COLMES: Absolutely.

GRAHAM: And Christmas, to take Jesus Christ out of Christmas, to take Christ out and say "X-mas," "merry X-mas."

COLMES: Right. It's silly.

Look, I also think it's silly for certain stores not to say "Merry Christmas" or kids not to be able to sing carols...

GRAHAM: But there is an effort to take that out of society.

COLMES: I understand. But my point is this: Do you need the government to sanction or to put the stamp of approval on what your personal faith is?

GRAHAM: No, sir, I don't. Not at all. But what I'm saying, for us as a nation, Christmas is not -- this is a federal holiday, OK? It's a government holiday. It's been recognized all through our history.

And there is a group, there are groups in this country that hate Jesus Christ. They hate God's son. And they want to do everything to discredit his name, to take his name out of our society.

COLMES: Let me ask you. Is it possible to have an opinion...


COLMES: ... that this does not belong in the public square, because that is your opinion. In an intellectual level, without being a Christian- hater, maybe you honestly believe that this is not the proper place for religion, and that it should not be in the public square, in the public school, that there should be that wall, an impenetrable wall. Does that make one a hater of Christians, if you have that...


GRAHAM: No, but listen, this has been part of our history as a nation for over 200 years. We have celebrated Christmas as a nation and our government recognizes it.

There's nothing wrong with that. And, if a community is predominantly Christian and they want to put something out to celebrate their holiday, why not? If Jewish people want to put the menorah up, great. Do it.

But we shouldn't be prevented from our signs and symbols which we feel that are very sacred and holy to us.

HANNITY: Reverend, at a minimum there is intolerance on the left. And on another side of it, there's outright hatred...

GRAHAM: That's right.

HANNITY: ... and bigotry on a level that I don't think we have seen in our lifetime.

I want to ask you about a column you wrote in the Atlanta Journal- Constitution at the end of November. And the headline was "Christians Must Focus on God not Politics." But don't Christians also have to focus on politics in this context, abortion, immoral...


HANNITY: ... their positions on gay marriage and where they stand on that, war, peace...

GRAHAM: Yes. Sure. Absolutely.

HANNITY: So they really do need to.

GRAHAM: This was written right after the election.


GRAHAM: And we have gone through a very spirited election.

HANNITY: Oh, we know.

GRAHAM: Very divisive. And I think it's time for Christians to get back to what our focus should be.

We have got the next four years. Let's look at -- during the next election cycle. Let's deal with it.

But right now, let's don't be distracted by politics. We need to be uniting America. We need to work with people across the aisle. We need to work with liberals as well as conservatives to build this country.

COLMES: You really don't want to, do you?

GRAHAM: It takes good men like this, as well as good men like yourself to build our...

HANNITY: No, Alan is as good a liberal as they come. I mean...

COLMES: It's like as good as a leper as they come.

HANNITY: No, no, no. He is as good a -- but I mean that as a compliment. He is not as mean and divisive as a lot of people on his side, and I give him a lot of credit. He reaches out a lot.

GRAHAM: But there are some wonderful -- in the South, where I come from, there are some wonderful conservative Democrats.

HANNITY: Yes, Zell Miller.

GRAHAM: That feel like they have been, you know, shut out. A lot more than just Zell Miller. There's a bunch of them.

HANNITY: No, I agree.

GRAHAM: And they feel like they have been abandoned by the principles of -- the historical principles of the Democratic Party.

HANNITY: You know, before you came on, I had a big fight with Richard Aborn, who is a regular guest on this program. And you know how I feel? I feel that there are a lot of liberals, if they had their way, and they're still attacking the war today, mass graves would still be being filled...

GRAHAM: Right.

HANNITY: ... rape rooms would still be open, torture chambers would still be used, women would still be unable to go to work or school. We liberated 50 million people. It angers me that they can't understand that.

GRAHAM: Well, you know, that's OK. I have been to Iraq on a number of occasions. I have been many times to the Middle East.

I appreciate what our government strategy has been. And I'm not sure people fully understand that I think we have allowed the borders to be weak in Iraq, to allow the guerrillas to come from Iran, to come from Syria, to come out of Yemen. And they come in -- it's just like a big magnet. And it's been sucking and pulling them in. And you know what? Our country is...


COLMES: We've got to part company.



COLMES: By the way, our best to your dad. We hope he continues in good health.

GRAHAM: Thank you. Merry Christmas.

COLMES: Thank you so much. Merry Christmas to you. Thank you very much.

And we're not afraid to say that. And don't miss Jon Scott's special, "The Birth of Jesus," this Sunday at 9:00 p.m.

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