But the preacher, who has counseled every president beginning with Eisenhower, is not in line to mentor Obama. “My father feels like his time and day for that is over,” Franklin Graham said in comments published by The Associated Press (AP) news agency. “But he would certainly like to meet (Obama) and pray with him.”

Graham’s views of the world are reportedly still respected in White House circles. Republican presidential candidate John McCain visited Graham at his mountainside home during the campaign, and Obama tried to meet Graham but wasn’t able to do so because of the preacher’s poor health.

Though never partisan in his preaching, Billy Graham is a registered Democrat., AP reported. His son expressed concern about Obama’s views on abortion and gay marriage — an issue Franklin Graham raised in a meeting with the Illinois senator — saying that he and is father are conservatives who believe the Bible speaks clearly on those issues.


“President-elect Obama heard our position,” Franklin Graham said. “And I told him that this was very difficult for us and hard for us. It’s a moral issue that we just can’t back down on.”

About 160 of Graham’s close family and friends celebrated his birthday with an intimate gathering Friday, November 7. ata barbeque near the evangelist’s mountainside home outside Asheville, in the American state of North Carolina.

His ministry had received some 100,000 greetings — including a video from President Bush — from people who told stories about how he changed their lives. Graham’s son said they would be bound so that someone could read a few dozen letters to him each day.


Encouragement is partly what Graham needs. He still struggles with the loss of his wife, Ruth, who died last year, and Frankin Graham notes his father has said he has more friends in heaven than on earth.

An avid consumer of news, Billy Graham still listens to television — he has macular degeneration and has can’t read more than the headlines of a newspaper — and follows the events of the day. He spends much of his day napping and resting, and Franklin visits on Sundays to try and coax him to make the 100-yard walk to the barn next to the mountainside home in Montreat.

The celebration was attended by all five of his children, most of his 19 grandchildren and many of his great grandchildren, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Organization said. Graham’s health is fragile. He was hospitalized overnight last month after falling over his dog while trying to pet it. He had elective surgery earlier this year to update a shunt that controls excess fluid on his brain.

The shunt was first installed in 2000 and drains fluid from through a small tube, relieving excess pressure that can cause symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. “I’ve learned that these latter years can be some of the most fulfilling of our lives,” the evangelist said in released comments.  “I am grateful for each day, thankful for the measure of health I have and am overwhelmed by this celebration. But I think we can come back and celebrate again next year.”


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