MONTREAT, N.C. (ABP) — President Obama met Billy Graham for the first time face-to-face April 25, making him the 12th consecutive U.S. president to meet with the famed Southern Baptist evangelist.
Obama stopped by Graham's mountaintop home in Montreat, N.C., on his way to speak at a memorial in West Virginia for the 29 miners who died in a recent explosion. He is the first sitting president to visit Graham at his home. Graham has met every president since Truman, but at 91 he is too frail to travel.
"I am pleased to have had President Obama in my home this afternoon," Graham said in a statement. "He requested a meeting since he was spending the weekend nearby in Asheville. My son Franklin and I enjoyed a brief visit with the President, followed by a time of prayer together."
The visit came at an awkward time, two days after the U.S. Army withdrew an invitation to Franklin Graham to speak at the Pentagon May 6 for the National Day of Prayer after controversy over comments by the younger Graham disparaging of Islam.
Franklin Graham, honorary co-chair of this year's National Day of Prayer, told the Charlotte Observer that the Army's revocation came up during the conversation and that Obama said he would look into it. The younger Graham said he also thanked the president for appealing a recent opinion by a federal judge ruling the National Day of Prayer mandated by Congress is unconstitutional.
Franklin Graham, who leads the ministry Samaritan's Purse, is still scheduled to participate in National Day of Prayer in a service May 6 at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington.
Anticipating the 59th annual National Day of Prayer, Billy Graham encouraged "Christians everywhere to pray for our President, and for all those in positions of authority, and especially for the men and women serving in our military."