By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney met with evangelical icon Billy Graham for the first time on Thursday at the evangelist’s remote mountaintop home in North Carolina.
Romney traveled to Graham’s residence in Montreat, just outside Asheville, to meet with Graham and his son Franklin Graham, a high-profile pastor in his own right.
Romney campaign spokesman Rick Gorka told reporters that Romney met with the Grahams for approximately 30 minutes and that they discussed religious freedom, religious persecution and growth of the Grahams’ ministry in China, Sudan and North Korea.
Towards the end of the meeting, according to Gorka, Billy Graham led a prayer for the Romneys, saying "I'll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that."
"What impresses me even more than Governor Romney's successful career are his values and strong moral convictions. I appreciate his faithful commitment to his impressive family, particularly his wife Ann of 43 years and his five married sons," Billy Graham said in a statement through a spokesman following the meeting.
"It was a privilege to pray with Governor Romney—for his family and our country. I will turn 94 the day after the upcoming election, and I believe America is at a crossroads. I hope millions of Americans will join me in praying for our nation and to vote for candidates who will support the biblical definition of marriage, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms," the evangelist's statement continued.
Graham, 93, has provided counsel to generations of U.S. presidents beginning with Harry S. Truman, and is the founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Staging revivals that he called “crusades” around the world, Graham has reached untold millions of people in person with his message.
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In the United States, his power and reach have transcended partisan politics. He has counseled presidents from both parties and met with President Barack Obama in 2010. Graham was hospitalized for treatment of a pulmonary infection earlier this year.
Romney first met with Franklin Graham, founder of the aid group Samaritan’s Purse, in 2007, when the Mormon White House hopeful was getting know many national evangelical leaders for the first time.
The elder Graham began his missionary work in 1944 when he started speaking at rallies for the Youth for Christ Campus Life ministry. Five years later, Graham was holding crusades in tents in downtown Los Angeles.
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Originally scheduled for three weeks, the crusades drew so many followers they were extended to seven.
His "last crusade" in June 2005 drew 230,000 people.
More recently, Billy Graham has weighed in on hot-button issues, including supporting North Carolina's constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, which voters passed earlier this year. This summer, Graham defended the president of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain for his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Graham has been in and out of local hospitals this year, battling respiratory issues. The pool reporter following Romney added in their report from the meeting, "Billy Graham's voice sounded somewhat weak but he did not look any more frail than his age would suggest."
CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.
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They just tried but failed to make God a Republican the party of fake? God did not want your Mormon Romney for the Oval office even with all your prayer for him to win!
Grahams , you need to know Jesus stayed out of politics & never over threw the corrupt Roman Empire!
No hotline to the Lord after all. God did not want Romney for the Oval Office!
I recall that Billy Graham told us during the Bush years that he supported all U.S. Presidents but that he was a Democrat. Nobody had known this before and, I suppose many, like I, had assumed he was a Republican, given his fundamentalist roots. He did not reveal his personal political preferences until quite late in life and that, I think, was one of the facets of his character that endeared him to all of us. He kept his religion and his politics separately.Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Franklin who is an opportunist and an egomaniac. I do not for one minute believe that Billy Graham, on his own and when he was of sound mind and body, would have made the declarations about Romney that are printed here. Quite candidly, I believe Franklin put him up to this and he should be ashamed. I have supported the Billy Graham ministries all my life as an Episcopalian and as a Democrat. Billy is the pastor to us all. For Franklin to have exploited him to this degree is awful and I will not support Franklin as the new leader of Billy Graham ministries. I believe that if Romney were elected, Billy would support him as our president, but I don't believe he would support the politics that got him there. I believe Billy would just as enthusiastically support Barack Obama as our President and, if Billy was truthful about his politics several years ago, would be voting for him as well. Shame on Franklin Graham!
many christians are in the kingdom of heaven but they think they are in the kingdom of God. May God help us all. Lack of deep teaching from the pulpit. Only focusing on abortion. Abortion is not the full gospel. Kingdom of heaven is church gathering. Kingdom of God is totally different.
Ray I agree with you 100% and more Pat roberson is a confuse old man who will not give up power to his son, poor billy can not remenber, and his son is in charge, if Billy son and all the born again
christians vote for a cult may God help then, do you want a mornan President in the White hous with 4 Wives, and worship a man name Joseph Smith, rather than Jesus Christ,Pat Roberson need to tell his listeners the truth about cults.
rommey first came out to run for President, all the christian stations said we do not want a cult in the white house, now the Christian are supporting him, the Bible must fulfill, in the last days we wil call evil good and good evil, I feel sorry for these so-call
christian, you need to get down on your knees and ask God for direction regarding voting for a cult. beause you all sure need it, sholom
Fun with anagrams,
Billy Graham: evangelist = Billy Graham: evil's agent
How come there are only 504 posts on this topic in five days, yet we currently have a post rate of 5ppm on what is essentially the same topic today, now at 1,332 posts in just 4.5 hours?
Why is that?
Perhaps it has something to do with the "removing the 'cult' reference"? Yes, that must be it.
You are so correct on this.
We need to carefully watch & listen to the GOP. Do all of you understand what's going on? Read between the li(n)es & see this:
Do you think that "W" or Cheney were on vacation or during the GOP convention? Maybe they called in sick? Or were they possibly detained due to more pressing matters? No, they were the Uninvited. Why have the Initiators of Wars, Economic fiasco makers, Raisers of Nat'l Debt, etc. be there as Living Reminders when the Party is trying so hard to help Americans forget their terms in office?
Romney & Ryan have said that they want to end a woman's right to choose. By the time Romney picks a couple of Supreme Court justices, THEY WILL! So truly desperate women will be forced to go again to back alleys to have these procedures performed by the illegal & untrained.
Romney fails in the International Arena. He simply can't handle the problems. Not only does he open his mouth & insert foot, he doesn't even TRY to be quiet about communications at #10 Downing Street with the U.K's Prime Minister!!!
Romney has fooled many people. Supposedly, now he cares about the middle class. Leopards DON'T change their spots. It's true; he cares only for Wall Street, not Main St. Don't be deluded by his last-minute rhetoric to the contrary.
He will flip-flop, lie, say & do WHATEVER it takes to be elected. Voters who have allowed him to pull the wool over their eyes will be shocked beyond belief if/when he takes office. Be forewarned- He. will. change. everything. Student loans, Medicare, SS, Firearm ownership, etc., etc., etc. This man is in bed with the NRA.
Be aware of his membership in The Latter Day Saints. This Is A Cult. It's not just another Christian faith. ( Please go through your search engine now, if you haven't already. Look up how Mormon beliefs differ from Christian beliefs. Among these beliefs: how all believers become gods after death, baptism for the dead, Abraham, Moses & Noah coming centuries forward in time and place to anoint Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism., etc. Take the time to familiarize yourself with words and expressions that you've never heard before. They'll be highlighted in what your reading. Look up Mr. Smith. He said he was visited many times by the angel, Moroni. There's no angel Moroni mentioned anywhere in the Old OR New Testament of The Holy Bible. Mormons look down on black people. And since they believe theirs is the only true religion, they also believe that the great majority of people are going to hell in a hand basket.
Look up the '116 pages', that supposedly are 'missing' from the original interpretation of scriptures as 'given' to Jos. Smith. If these were actually God's words, don't you think that God would have given them to us again? My theory is that its because he had to think up a large part of what he'd already thought up once. Heck, if I were writing a paper, I'd be mad too, if a lot of pages went missing!. Why did Smith conveniently come up with yet even more objects- in addition to his previously discovered 'golden plates'- to more CORRECTLY and concisely give a synopsis of his previous words? Why does the Mormon Bible change our original Bible to suit it's purposes? As Christians, we're admonished & promised being cursed if we ever add to or subtract from what's written in the Bible. Mormons, including Smith, have produced other writings & 'interpretations' of what God evidently changed His mind about or 'forgot' to add to the Bible- Pearl of Great Price & The Book of Mormon, to name just the 2 main ones. Please, please learn what the Latter Day Saints believe, so you can share this with others).
Romney has said he'll reduce the deficit and the budget. He can't tax the poor and won't tax the rich so you better believe it'll fall on the middle class.
About Billy Graham. He has never officially taken part in partisan politics. As adviser & minister to presidents, he couldn't very well do that. Why would he endorse someone when he might be wanted or needed later to meet with the 'other guy'? And why would he 'endorse' someone at this late date? I think its his son, Franklin, now calling the shots.
" I think its his son, Franklin, now calling the shots."
You betcha. Along with his buddy Mark DeMoss, Romney's evangelical outreach guy and Franklin's PR man for 21 years.
Mormons is a cult. If you are a christian, you should not endorse a cult leader. If you are christian, you should be a christian first. Christian republican need to put their faith before politics. Come on Billy Graham and Pat Robertson. You know what the bible teaches. We are to pray for our leaders, not castigate them. Remember what the bible says; It is God that sets up and bring down. Therefore it is the will of God that President Obama is in office. Therefore you are instructed to pray for and pray only. Jesus said Give honor to whom honor is due.
The Graham's are bigots and racists.
They just tried but failed to make God a Republican! He did not want your Mormon Romney for the Oval office even with all your prayer for him to win!
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.