Skip to main content
U.S. Edition


Return to Transcripts main page


A Conversation With Reverend Franklin Graham

Aired December 16, 2005 - 08:34   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: A year of catastrophes to tell you about, like the tsunami, Katrina, the Pakistani earthquake. All of those things have really tested the faith of people not only in this country, but around the world. And yet our next guest says that times of tragedy can revive faith.
Reverend Franklin Graham of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association joins us this morning.

It's nice to see you. How are you?

REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM: I'm doing well. Good to be with you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: It' been a busy year, hasn't it? And I guess I mean busy not necessarily in a good way. Let's talk a little bit about volunteering, because I know that's what you said should almost be the person of the year, when "Time" magazine picks its cover of the most important thing. Why volunteers?

GRAHAM: Soledad, I saw in the Gulf coast volunteers coming from church vans from Iowa, from Minnesota, from all over the United States. And they gave their time, they paid their own way, and they came by the busloads. Thousands upon thousands of them just to help, not wanting anything in return, but to give themselves and paying their own expenses.

If you look at the Red Cross, and the tens of thousands of volunteers that give to the American red cross. And my organization, Samaritan's Purse, we've had thousands come through our organization to do mud-outs of home. That's where homes went underwater and they filled up with mud, and you have to go in with a shovel, and it takes hours and hours, and they do this for nothing, and they give their time and pay their own expenses. And we have seen all across the United States this year, the volunteer who just stands up, and comes and gives of themselves are just happy to do it.

S. O'BRIEN: But not just in the United States. I mean, because unfortunately, it's been a year of disasters around the globe as well. Let me ask you about something you said back in October. You were talking about what could happen in sort of spiritual revival out of New Orleans. And you said this, "There's been Satanic worship." You're talking about New Orleans. "There's been sexual perversion. God is going to use that storm to bring revival. God has a plan. God has a purpose."

Were you saying that the storm was retribution by God? GRAHAM: No, no, I've been very clear to say that I don't believe the storm is God's judgment at all. But New Orleans has had a history of being known for,like the Mardi Gras and these types of things, and that's really not New Orleans, but that's what it gets portrayed in the media. And there are a lot of churches and a lot of great people down there, that are hoping that as a result of this storm, maybe there will be a new era for New Orleans, and maybe there will be a spiritual renewal and a spiritual revival that would come out of the mud and the disaster of this storm, and that's what I was wanting to say.

No, it's not -- I don't believe it's God's judgment, because I saw churches destroyed. I saw fine Christian people lose their homes, as well as anybody else. So I can't say it's God's judgment.

Operation Christmas Child is your volunteer organization. And I know you brought this little shoebox with you. Maybe we can show it, because this is really the bulk of your volunteer project?

GRAHAM: It's Christmastime, and it's one of the largest Christmas programs.

S. O'BRIEN: What's inside?

GRAHAM: We have individual families. This year, eight million families are packing boxes like this for us. And this for a girl, it's a doll. It's got a note in it.

S. O'BRIEN: You can fit a lot of stuff in a shoebox, can't you?

GRAHAM: A lot of stuff in a shoe box.

S. O'BRIEN: And you're going to send this to 90 different countries, right??

GRAHAM: Ninety-some different countries. These are volunteers who give this, who pack these eight million -- and people ask me what's the most important thing to put in a box? Soledad, the most important thing is your prayers. Pray for the child that's going to get the box, because I don't know who will get it, but God knows. And if we have eight million people praying for eight million children, do you think God just might hear those prayers, and answer them and bring a little joy into these children's lives?

And I want these children to know that God loves him, cares for them, and that he sent his son, Jesus Christ, and that's what Christmas is all about, God sending his son to rescue mankind from their sins. If we put our faith and trust in him, God will forgive us of our sins and cleanse our hearts, and we can have that hope one day of being in heaven with almighty God. And I want these children to have that hope.

S. O'BRIEN: You're saying if you're a little kid who didn't get a lot for Christmas, or isn't going to get anything for Christmas, that is chock full of really great things, crayons, and doll and gloves. GRAHAM: Little gloves.

S. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question about the Christmas debate, which I know you're well aware of.

Did you see in New York City? Do we have a picture of this, this limo that was driving around? It said, "Jews for it's OK to say Merry Christmas." I mean, this is sort of what it's come to now. And as much as everybody, I think, makes fun of it, it's become a punchline of a joke. Do you think people are taking the Christmas out of Christmas?

GRAHAM: I think people are fighting back now. I think it's most people said this is enough.

S. O'BRIEN: Do you think it's a real fighting issue, or do you think it's sort of a, hey, there's so many different people celebrating different things this time of year, let's just, you know, make it available to everybody.

GRAHAM: Well, first of all, Christmas is a Christian holiday. It's celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, and it's been this way for 2,000 years.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, Hanukkah falls on Christmas Day this year.

GRAHAM: And if somebody says happy Hanukkah to me, I would say happy Hanukkah to you. It wouldn't offend me or insult me one bit. And during Ramadan, if a Muslim said happy Ramadan, I would say happy Ramadan.

S. O'BRIEN: Back at you, man, is what you would say.

GRAHAM: Sure, absolutely.

But for us as Christians, this is one of the most holy of the holidays, the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. And for people to take Christ out of Christmas. They're happy to say merry Xmas. Let's just take Jesus out. And really, I think, a war against the name of Jesus Christ.

S. O'BRIEN: Do you rip up all of the happy holiday cards you get?


S. O'BRIEN: But you think there's a real an effort there to try to take...

GRAHAM: There's no question. I think secularists are trying to do this, to take Christ out of the Christmas. They don't want to rid of the holidays; they just don't want Jesus in the holidays.

S. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you about your day before I let you go. How is he doing? The last time we spoke, he was thinking that his work was almost done. I know he's had some health problems, right? GRAHAM: Well, he is finished as far as his public meetings. New York this last summer...

S. O'BRIEN: Until the next time he decides he's going to do one?

GRAHAM: He's been working on books. He's on his third book right now since New York when he was here in June.

S. O'BRIEN: He's written two other books since then?

GRAHAM: Yes. So he's really -- he's quite busy.

S. O'BRIEN: Wow. How old is he now?

GRAHAM: He's 87 and he reminds me, when I ask him to do something, he says, son, I'm just three years away from 90! Don't ask me to do anything!

S. O'BRIEN: Or ask me now because I'm three years away from 90. It's always nice to check in with you. Happy -- Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Ramadan, Happy Hannukah and all the above to you.

GRAHAM: And a Merry Christmas to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you. Franklin Graham.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Wow. Two books since June. Not bad. Not bad at all. What have I been doing since June? I don't know.

Canceling church on Christmas Day? Reverend Graham, what do you think about that?

GRAHAM: Canceling church? I wouldn't cancel church.

M. O'BRIEN: OK, good, all right. Well, you know, it's happening. There are some churches are closing on one of the most important Christian holidays of the year. The alternative, they say? Pray in front of the TV. The explanation and a debate this weekend. That will be at 7:00 a.m. Eastern time on "CNN SUNDAY MORNING."

Andy is "Minding Your Business," meanwhile. Hello, Andy.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" COLUMNIST: Hello, Miles. I've got some TV news for you. The first family cable package is out. Is CNN in it? Plus, racy U.S. television comes to China. Such an export. Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: I hate that picture. Anyway, we got to work on that.

SERWER: She looks good.

S. O'BRIEN: I was going to say, I look great in that picture!

M. O'BRIEN: I'm talking about me. I'm talking about me. It's all about me. Would you just leave me alone? A lot here's a quick programming note for you. Monday on AMERICAN MORNING...

S. O'BRIEN: More of that picture!

M. O'BRIEN: Do you get a feeling of that deja vu?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, all of the time.

M. O'BRIEN: Do you get a feeling of deja vu?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, all of the time.

M. O'BRIEN: There may be a scientific reason for it.

S. O'BRIEN: Really?

M. O'BRIEN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta will explain that for us Monday. And here's some deja vu for you. Remember, AMERICAN MORNING starts at 6:00 Eastern.

S. O'BRIEN: We do?

M. O'BRIEN: AMERICAN MORNING starts at 6:00 a.m. Eastern. Andy Serwer is here. And family friendly cable.


M. O'BRIEN: And I asked in jest the day they first announced this. I said, well, of course, we will be a participant in that.

S. O'BRIEN: AMERICAN MORNING for sure will be on.

M. O'BRIEN: Maybe not.

SERWER: Well, not exactly, as they say on those TV commercials. That's right. Time Warner Cable has the first of these new family friendly cable packages. They're going to be introducing it next year. But they just announced what's on it.

So what's on it? Let's see. Guess what? We're not. AMERICAN MORNING, which is that racy cable news program, I guess...

S. O'BRIEN: Hey!

SERWER: ... is not on it. CNN Headline News is on it. And they said -- we talked about it and they said these are smaller bites, maybe more appropriate for younger viewers or something to that extent. Well, whatever. You can see here the Disney Channel's on it.

M. O'BRIEN: This has something to do with attention spans, maybe? SERWER: That's another -- yes. Boy, these young people. And the Weather Channel. Cartoon Network -- Cartoon Network is not on it.

M. O'BRIEN: Wait a minute.

SERWER: That's a Time Warner property.

M. O'BRIEN: Because of Adult Swim, I bet.

SERWER: There are some adult programs on that, and I think that's the reason why. I think also we notice here that what is also not on there? Nickelodeon Basic is not on there. Nick Games and Sports is on there.

S. O'BRIEN: Huh, that's weird.

M. O'BRIEN: Nickelodeon Basic? You mean, like TVLand?


M. O'BRIEN: And that is not on there?

SERWER: It's not on there. So I don't know, we'll have to talk to Mr. Brit over there at Time Warner Cable.

M. O'BRIEN: It's that racy Brady Bunch. Boy, they were on the edge.

SERWER: Total cost is to be $33 a month. Thirteen dollars of that would go to this thing and the balance, the $20, would go to be getting the network programming. So that's all this all -- it will be interesting to see if it succeeds. There's no guarantee this is going to work. And, of course, this is our parent company, the same Time Warner as CNN.

S. O'BRIEN: That left us off!

SERWER: That left us off. What did we do wrong?

S. O'BRIEN: Why? Why, man?

SERWER: We tried so hard.

All right, let's talk about more TV news here. "Desperate Housewives" is coming to Beijing. And this is also an unusual idea. It will probably be a huge hit over there. But, you know, of course, the Chinese authorities have been reluctant to have programming this racy on their television networks. But it's going to be on there and apparently will be dubbed. No doubt some things will get lost in transition, don't you think?


SERWER: I mean, different cultures.

S. O'BRIEN: They probably hope some things are going to get lost in translation on that show.

SERWER: But don't you think people are going to watch it there? I think they will.

M. O'BRIEN: Not on their family cable.

SERWER: Cable package.

S. O'BRIEN: But they will watch.

SERWER: Yes, they haven't started that there.

S. O'BRIEN: No question about it. All right, Andy, thank you very much.

SERWER: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, we are wrapping up 2005, just about. JibJab Brothers have a year in review for President Bush and really for the nation as a whole. Here's a look.


SERWER: I like how they have subtitles.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, well, it helps out. Because they way write, "I tried to get to Cra-aw-ford."

SERWER: Right. And then it goes pretty quickly.

S. O'BRIEN: Poetic license if ever heard it.

SERWER: There's some good rhyming in there, though.

S. O'BRIEN: Good rhyming, good tunes. "Turkey in the Straw," "Auld Lang Syne." You know, can't mess with those two.

M. O'BRIEN: You know, I'm now sort of realizing overnight on the famed family cable thing is watching some of these things.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, this whole thing could keep you off the family list.

SERWER: Sorry kids, you can't see that.

S. O'BRIEN: Go back to bed, children, or should you be going to school?

Short break ahead. Coming up this morning, the very latest on the developing story here in New York. The nation's biggest bus and subway system still running, but a phased-in labor strike could begin within hours. We got a live report on that, just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, if New York City transit workers don't get what they want, a phased-in strike could start within hours. A live report on this developing story. They're trying to ratchet up the leverage here a little bit, and I think they're succeeding so far on that front. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines