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Billy Graham site removes Mormon 'cult' reference after Romney meeting
Mitt Romney meets Thursday with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham.
October 16th, 2012
02:53 PM ET

Billy Graham site removes Mormon 'cult' reference after Romney meeting

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - Shortly after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney enjoyed cookies and soft drinks with the Rev.  Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham on Thursday at the elder Graham's mountaintop retreat, a reference to Mormonism as a cult was scrubbed from the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

In a section of the website called Billy Graham's My Answer there had been the question "What is a cult?"

Answer: "A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith."

"Some of these groups are Jehovah's Witnesess, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spritualists, Scientologists, and others," the site continued.

No longer. On Tuesday, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association confirmed that page has recently been removed from the site.

“Our primary focus at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has always been promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ," Ken Barun, chief of staff for the association, told CNN in a statement. "We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign."

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Romney is a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members of which are known as Mormons.

The information about cults can be found on cached sections of the website on Archive.org from June 5, 2010.

The theological question of where Mormons fit on the religious spectrum has drawn more attention because of Romney's candidacy. Mormons consider themselves to be strong Christians. Many traditional Christian denominations disagree, though rank-and-file members have their own views on the matter.

The removal of the post from the Graham group's website was first noted by the New Civil Rights Movement website and then later by the Asheville Citizen-Times, which reported that the information on cults was accessed as recently as Thursday afternoon.

Last week's meeting between Romney and Graham was their first.

After the 30 minute sit-down in Montreat, North Carolina, just outside Asheville, Romney campaign spokesman Rick Gorka told reporters that 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."

The evangelist who has been called America's pastor and has prayed with every American president since Harry Truman said in a statement following the meeting that "It was a privilege to pray with Gov. Romney — for his family and our country."

Graham met with President Barack Obama in 2010 and with Sen. John McCain when he was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in 2008.

"I will turn 94 the day after the upcoming election, and I believe America is at a crossroads," Graham's statement continued. "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."

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When asked about Graham's beliefs about Mormonism, Graham spokesman A. Larry Ross said in a statement that "Through an inclusive evangelistic ministry spanning more than 60 years, Mr. Graham was called to preach the transformative message of the Gospel to the whole world, regardless of one’s religious background, affiliation or none. As such, he never proselytized, targeted or labeled specific people, groups, faiths or denominations.

"Neither did Mr. Graham attempt to divide his audience before he had opportunity to preach to them. He has a genuine love for all people, and faithfully proclaimed the love of God to everyone, providing opportunity for them to respond by making a faith commitment.

"Mr. Graham’s calling is not to pass judgment, but to proclaim the biblical truth that Jesus is the only way to heaven, allowing every individual and group to fall along that plumb line," the statement went on.

"He further stressed that salvation is the work of Almighty God, and that only He knows what is in each human heart," the statement said.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, lists the LDS Church as a theological cult.  The Catholic Church also does not recognize Mormon baptisms as being theologically compatible with its own.

The LDS Church has long bristled at being called a cult.  Mormons note the many similarities and overlap between their teachings and that of other churches but point to their belief in other scriptures like the Book of Mormon as the reason they split with other churches.

In the 2012 campaign Romney has been generally quiet about his church, though his role as a lay church leader was prominently featured in the Republican National Convention, and his campaign has allowed members of the press pool accompanying Romney to film him attending services.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Billy Graham • Christianity

soundoff (4,065 Responses)
  1. SensibleJoe

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I guess politics have become more important than faith for the Graham family business. The champion of the Bible is now willing to countenance Mormon beliefs not found in the Bible - such as God being one god among many, God being a physical being who lives on a planet named Kos, and Jesus and Lucifer being brothers. The unthinkable has come to pass...

    October 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Everyone has their price and the Koch brothers have a big chequebook.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • RW

      SensibleJoe,
      Thanks, as an ex-mormon people think I have an axe to grind. You hit a lot of things right on the head.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  2. Josh

    Sounds to me like Billie Grahm changed his religious beliefs for political purposes...How devout!

    October 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  3. Recovering Catholic

    Why stick to religious conviction when there is money to be tricked away from gullible fools or elections to be won? Billy Graham is a self-deluded phony and his son is a lying hypocrit. The two of them fit in well with the Rethuglicans...

    October 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  4. Martha in CF

    Well isn't that special............

    October 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  5. Reasonably

    Our cult is better than your cult – just ask us why! Typical alignment BS – if Romney wasn't the candidate there would not have been a change. Trying to rally the blind, mindless sheep.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Recovering Catholic

      would it be acceptable for me to endorse your comment by saying "Amen, Brother!"

      October 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Wouldn't offend me, but then I'm open minded and reasonable...

      October 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  6. Mark H

    Still a cult, see why:

    http://www.ExposeRomney.com

    October 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  7. my father recently passed

    mormonism is DEFINITELY a cult, make no mistake about it. and Romney is definitely a weirdo.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Orphan Annie

      Sorry for your loss.

      My father died 30 years ago and my mother died 20 years ago. I am a 68 year old orphan. What if I told you that they both have "spoken" to me since they died and said that ALL religions are wrong.... it is NOTHING like the religionists say.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Phazon

      Orphanannie that wasnt your parents watch out for the deceiver and call upon God to help you they will dissapear.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:18 am |
  8. tony

    Billy Graham & his cult of followers have a hard time admitting the truth – that their leader has sold out.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Reasonably

      God told him to do it in the form of donation checks.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  9. Newt Gingrich

    Mormon Bishop Mitten's MORMON AGENDA has begun!

    If it is not clear to you why Mormon Bishop Mittens has been running for President for over decade, that let me make it crystal clear:

    Mittens wants to be a MORMON GOD!

    October 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • John

      That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. You are just a perfect example about how uneducated people really are about the Mormon faith.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  10. MagicPanties

    So one cult stopped calling another cult... a cult.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  11. Harrry Baxter

    With every day that passes, Rev. Graham's legacy is turning to crap. It's sad to see this happen, because I've admired the man for over 40 years, despite his comments displaying evidence of racism back in the Nixon era. One wonders if his somwhat Right-Wing Son Franklin now is his "Power of Attorney", and is in control of the rapidly shrinking legacy. Too bad.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Pete

      I think that admitting you respect Billy Graham should be a death penalty offense.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  12. Pat

    I wonder if Mr. Graham realize that Mormons still believe that is okay for men to have multiple wives (in heaven) and that faithful Mormons will have their own set of planets over which they'll rule if they attain the highest level of the kingdom of heaven? Sounds like Mitt sold him the same barrel of crap that the LDS Church leaders have been pushing on the rest of the world for the last 150+ years.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  13. david

    Lets be real here, they took that page off because they did not want it to hurt Mitt, simple as that, Christians across the country are changing their views so they can justify voting for Mitt.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      Ya, they will accept hindu stupid monkey as their god too, if it will serve their hindu criminal reason.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  14. Kris

    It's fun to debate issues that simply cannot be reconciled.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  15. Ken in MO

    I used to respect BG...no more. Turns out he is just a politician afterall. Makes me sick.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      he is a hindu, racist bigamist.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  16. Andrew

    Ha! Politics trumps all, doesn't it! Political christians can be made sway so easily it's sickening. Essentially, Billy Graham just sold out Jesus Christ to a bunch of hacked-up, jacked-up politicians. What a shame. I wouldn't have believed Billy Graham could have EVER been bought. Oh well, now that he has I've lost all respect for his words.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      No surprise, his existence depends on hindu Pharaoh's.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • HAHA

      LOL! He's always sold out and the fact you didn't know that demonstrates how gullible Christians are.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  17. Rattan

    Billy Graham's setup is a personality cult! Let's face it – he's also a racist.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  18. RW

    Google "white horse" if your curious about what the Mormon's have in store for us.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • LinSea

      Your so-called 'white horse' is NOT Mormon doctrine.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  19. Bible Clown©

    The "Christian" hatred of Obama for not knowing his place is astounding. It's like you are all Muslims.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  20. AnimalFarmer

    Four legs good
    Two legs bad
    Four legs good
    Two legs better

    October 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • jvance

      Baaaaaad.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
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About this blog

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.