CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Billy Graham's work as a pastor to presidents is coming to an end, but he is praying for Barack Obama as the nation's next leader begins his work, Graham's son said Friday on the ailing evangelist's 90th birthday.
Franklin Graham said in an interview that his father's mind remains sharp even as his body continues to fail. 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. "But he would certainly like to meet (Obama) and pray with him."
Graham's views of the world are 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. 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 his 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."
"But he's our president-elect, and those positions that he holds that are contrary to Biblical teaching, I hope that God will change his heart," said Graham.
Obama favors abortion rights, and does not support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He supports civil unions and believes states should decide their own laws about marriage.