Franklin Graham Clarifies Controversial Comments About Trump, Obama

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 26, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Reverend Franklin Graham, son of well-known American evangelist Billy Graham made waves over the weekend with some comments about the possible candidacy of Donald Trump and the Christianity of President Obama. Let's take a look.


FRANKLIN GRAHAM, SAMARITAN'S PURSE: Donald Trump, when I first saw that he was getting in, I thought this has got to be a joke. The more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, you know, maybe the guy is right.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: So he might be your candidate of choice?

GRAHAM: Sure, yes. Sure.

AMANPOUR: President Obama has come to you and your father. You've all prayed together.

Does it bother you that people like Donald Trump for instance, right now making are another huge big deal about birth certificates and whether he's a Muslim or Christian and where he was born.

GRAHAM: He has told me he is a Christian, but the debate comes what is a Christian? For him, going to church means he's a Christian. For me, the definition of a Christian is whether we have given our life to Christ and are following 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 are a member of. A membership doesn't make you a Christian.


HANNITY: The White House wasted no time in snapping back, slamming back Reverend Graham for his comments.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it is unfortunate a religious leader would choose Easter Sunday to maybe preposterous charges.


HANNITY: And joining me now to set the record straight, the man himself, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelist Association, Reverend Franklin Graham. Reverend, how are you?

GRAHAM: Listen, Sean, it is great to be with you. If I was with you in person, I would give this book, "Billy Graham in Quotes." It's 83 different subjects. I'm going to mail it to you than anything you want to know about what Billy Graham thinks about the United States of America. What he thinks about abortion. What he thinks about the second coming of Jesus Christ, heaven, hell. It is all there and I want to send it to you. It would be a great resource for you, Sean.

HANNITY: First of all, all my best as always to your dad. It was a great honor when I had the chance to interview him as you know you were there.

Let me ask you, you said that Obama -- we've been talking a lot about this church that he went to on Easter. The comments of the pastor that we played, do they bother you?

GRAHAM: Well, does it bother me? No, it doesn't bother me. I regret that my comments had been misunderstood by the White House. Sean, when I talked about Donald Trump, when Christiane Amanpour asked me about Donald Trump, you know, I find the man a very interesting man and he's got a lot of good ideas and I think he may be right.

Not right about the birth certificate. I wasn't referring to that. I think that's what the White House interpreted. What I was talking about is his ideas about what it is going to take to get the economy of this nation back on track. I believe he does have some good ideas.

I think we ought to listen to some of these ideas. I think the White House would do itself a great favor by asking Donald Trump to come and give them some advice. We are in trouble as a nation. And I just grieve for where the direction we are going.

We've turned our back on God and our government, in our schools and our nation is suffering for it. I think our nation needs to turn back to God. We need to repent as a nation and turn again to the God of our fathers and put our faith and trust in him.

HANNITY: Reverend, you said on the issue, you met with and you prayed with President Obama. And you said for him, going to church means he's a Christian. You have a very different view. Some have interpreted that, that you were questioning his Christian faith. Your reaction?

GRAHAM: Well, first of all, Sean, for millions of Americans, they may not go to church. They hey not have any faith, but because their mother was a Christian or their father was a Christian, they would say, well, I'm a Christian.

So I think for millions of Americans, what church they belong to, for them the definition, well that makes me a Christian. But the Bible has a very clear definition as to a follower of Christ. For me as a minister, I want to -- I'm an evangelist. I want to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that who so ever believe in him shouldn't perish, but have everlasting life.

I want people to know how they can have eternal life and that's through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We can have that assurance at heaven. We can be sure that our sins are forgiven.

HANNITY: But you met with the president. I've never had that opportunity. He avoids me, Reverend. I think in the spirit of bringing people together maybe you can arrange that he finally, you know, stop ducking me and come on the show.

But what do you think when you hear Reverend Wright or this pastor that he went to this church this weekend that agrees with Reverend Wright and all the things that he said, g-d America, America's chickens have come home to route after 9/11.

I mean, does that bother you? Do you think that is troubling for a Christian pastor to be saying or agreeing with?

GRAHAM: No question, Sean. It's troubling and I wish the president could come under some good, sound biblical teaching. That's what he needs. You know, the president is a nice man. I know, Sean, that if you met him, you can't help but to like the man. He's a very gracious, gentle person --

HANNITY: You may be pushing it there. Through -- that's a lot of patience you are asking for.

Well, I bet I would like him personally, but I think his policies are literally bringing America into decline. There's no other way I can say it. He's hurting the country. His policies --

GRAHAM: I would agree with you. Our nation is in trouble, but, Sean, listen, it is not President Obama who got us into this position. It is the Republicans and the Democrats over many, many years of spending money from the future. They are borrowing from our children and our grandchildren and great grandchildren.

We are at a point now where this has to stop. I don't know if the president understands that. But we have to make a change if this country going to survive and be a force in the future.

HANNITY: I agree. I think his policies have hurt a lot more.

But, Reverend, I'm glad you had a chance to clarify our remarks. Send our best regards, my best regards to your dad and I'm looking forward to getting a copy of that book about your dad. Thank you.

GRAHAM: "Billy Graham in Quotes," I'll send it to you tomorrow.

HANNITY: All right, thank you very much, Franklin Graham.

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