Obama visits Rev. Billy Graham while on his weekend break

President Barack Obama visited evangelical Rev. Billy Graham at his North Carolina home Sunday before departing the state from a weekend vacation.

Graham, 91, has advised many presidents, starting with Harry Truman in 1950. This will be Obama's first meeting with Graham.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told a pool reporter that Obama had phoned Graham on his 91st birthday last November and renewed their conversation about a visit when the president decided on North Carolina as a vacation destination.

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"Reverend Graham has obviously been an important spiritual leader for past presidents and for the American people for decades," Burton said. "He's a real treasure for our country. The president appreciates the opportunity to visit him at his home."

Obama attempted to visit with Graham while on the campaign trail in 2008 but the timing did not work for Graham, according to the pool report.

 Billy Graham has reduced his public appearances in recent years because he is suffering from Parkinson's Disease and other illnesses. 

 "Sounds like he's pretty good," Burton said about Graham's health. "Sounds like he's got some of the creaks that come with advancing age but the's still as sharp as he ever was."

Obama had a private prayer and conversation with Graham, according to Burton.

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The meeting comes several days after Graham's son Franklin was disinvited to the Pentagon's National Day of Prayer ceremony on May 6 because of comments he made in 2001 about Islam. The younger Graham called the religion "evil" because he says it encourages terrorism and treats women poorly.

A Pentagon spokesman said that Franklin Graham's comments were "inappropriate," according to the AP.

Asked if the visit would be awkward because of the episode with Graham's son, Burton ducked, saying "I don't know. We'll see." 

Franklin was in attendance at the meeting with Obama Sunday.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said Sunday on CNN that the decision to bar Graham from the Pentagon ceremony was "very unfortunate."

This post was updated at 1:28 p.m. and again at 2:16 p.m. A previous version was published at 9:29 a.m.