Mitchell Reports | February 21, 2012
>>> are republicans trying use religion as a political weapon against obama. now it's franklin graham talking on " morning joe " about president obama 's faith.
>> to therefore by your definition, he is not a christian?
>> you have to and him, i cannot answer that question for anybody. allpy know is that i'm a sinner and that god has for given me of my sins because i put my faith and trust in jesus christ . that is all i know.
>> i do not get it, reverend. i do not mean to harp on it. why can't you just say yeah, he is a christian. he says he is and he goes to that is all i can go on, i have told people this many times, i accept him as what he says. if he says he is a christian, i'm not going to say he is not. all i know is what jesus christ has done in my heart and how he changed my life.
>> here is presidential historian with us michael beshloss. i thought we would get through the campaign without going here, but here we are. and chris said earlier, once is an accident, then the second day, and the third day, we are talking about the same thing. so here we are, this was franklin graham on " morning joe " going there as rick santorum did. and also, you know, first let's talk about the president's faith. bringing up the question of the muslim issue, that was long resolved and reinjecting jeremiah wright .
>> long resolved despite the number of people that still think that he is a muslim. it's incredible. the other thing is that it was probably legitimate more to talk about jeremiah wright four years ago because people did not know who obama was. one way that candidates use religion is sort of shorthand, this is a candidate that i do not know, but if i know his religious belief , it gives me a sense of his character.
>> isn't it a way to define someone as other, outside the mainstream, not quote american, but not only his name but his k kenyan father.
>> there was ministers at a time, where there was problems with protestants and catholics that try to do the same to kennedy.
>> jimmy carter was a bit controversial because he was the first reborn, vowed reborn candidate that we knew about, and was teaching sunday school and was deeply religious and different.
>> and that was a time that many did not hear about born again christians , a lot of people said though, if carter is such a deep christian that suggests to me that he will not do the terrible things that richard nixon did during water gate and that helped him but a lot of people in the democratic party said they were worried about how much of a religious man he was.
>> it was interesting that there was no alcohol in the white house , we would go to the white house christmas party and as a born again christian, and baptist, he did not permit alcohol. he was strict in his observance. let me play a bit of what happened a moment ago this morning.
>> you do not believe he is a muslim?
>> cnot a muslim?
>> i cannot say that totally because muslim has gotten a free pass.
>> how so?
>> coming out of the arab spring, islam is taking control. the minorities the christian minorities in egypt were protected now those minorities throughout the arab world are under attack.
>> so that is merging a lot of issues together. and the other thing, you having raised the question of kennedy and smith being catholics. now the mormon issue, christians not viewing more mans as christi christians , how do you feel it effects things?
>> romney tried to stop it by giving a speech saying i should not be judged on my religion it will not affect my political decisions, taking it almost directly from the speech that john kennedy made in the 1960s .
>> you think he will have to confront it again?
>> if people are making the argument and great graham was suggesting that barack obama has a view on the middle east because he is a secret muslim, or has relationships that is the opposite of what romney was trying argue and opposite of what kenny was trying argue. if people start to think that his religion will affect his views.
>> what is it about religion and politics , how do we use religion to define ourselves and who a candidate is?
>> the problem is the founders left it unsolved. they figured that the relationship between church and state was something that each generation would have to negotiate and we are doing it again. but i think the biggest influence is this, before 1960 , party hacks chose nominees and religion was not important, they knew these people. now, a lot of people are voting for romney or santorum, and they take a very close at what kind of religious belief they profess to get a sense of who this guy is behind the scenes .
>> and rick santorum clearly trying use the issue to redefine who barack obama is.
>> thank you very much.
>> thank you.