CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In another provocative comment aimed at Barack Obama, evangelist Franklin Graham on Thursday accused the president of having “shaken his fist” at God by changing his position on same-sex marriage.
“It grieves me that our president would now affirm same-sex marriage, though I believe it grieves God even more,” Graham said.
“This is a sad day for America. May God help us.”
On Tuesday, North Carolina became the 31st state to ratify a constitutional amendment designed to block same-sex marriage.
The next day, amid an online clamor to move the Democratic National Convention from Charlotte, the president changed his longstanding position against same-sex unions.
“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told ABC News.
He said he had changed his mind after having talked with his family and friends.
Graham, however, said God created and defined marriage.
It “should not be defined by presidents or polls, governors or the media. The definition was set long ago and changing legislation or policy will never change God’s definition.”
The Rev. Murdoch Smith, pastor of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte, challenged Graham’s view, saying “I am always suspect when someone says that they know the mind of God.”
“President Obama stated that his position was evolving because he was open to what all sides had to say on marriage equality,” Smith said Thursday. “That openness … brought him to the conclusion that God blesses all who commit to one another in his presence.”
Graham, who now runs his father’s evangelistic association, had publicly criticized the president on spiritual matters before.
In February, during an interview on MSNBC, Graham questioned whether Obama is a Christian, adding that “Islam has gotten a free pass” under the current administration.
He was heavily criticized, particularly by African-American ministers, and later apologized.
When running for the U.S. Senate and in his first presidential campaign four years ago, Obama said he opposed same-sex marriage, partly on religious reasons, partly “because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient,” he said in the Wednesday interview.
Obama’s presumptive challenger for the White House, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, says he opposes same-sex marriage and favors an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to forbid it.
N.C voters passed their state amendment with 61 percent of the vote.