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.
billy graham makes me sick! mormons have been a cult all along until now. ha ha. CHRISTIANITY AND MORMONS ARE CULTS!!
ALL myth religions are cults.
Franklin Graham is a godless, hate-filled, bigot.
His father is not.
Plz google: Nixon Billy Graham Jew slur
Gee, what a surprise (not). After all, the most important thing to Christians right now isn't religion, it's politics!
They're both cults.
Can't believe he sold out. Mormons are crazy as loons. They are ,without a doubt, a cult. Billy should be ashamed of himself. All the great work he has done in his life and to put his support behind a mormon. Sad day indeed.
Sure, Mormonism is loopy. No doubt. But Graham is a thuggish, manipulative, thieving, nutjob in his own right. Let's not act like one is better than the other here.
Next will be the Moonies and the Scientologists. SHAMEFUL AND IDIOTIC *AND* DISHONEST.
I wonder if Tom Cruise will jump on his couch.
This is disheartening on so many levels.
It takes one [cult] to know one...
'a reference to Mormonism as a cult was scrubbed from the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association'. Scrubbed?? I wonder how much that 'scrubbing' cost in donations to the 'Association'? Just asking!
I was thinking the same thing. It wouldn't surprise me if a donation was put down.
This is the height of hypocrisy from a man who is no longer religious, but political. Shame.
No matter how much I hate Bush and what he stands for, corporate greed, and saying he sent them off to WAR for WMD...PLZ when most people world wide, know it was to secure Oil for the new century. I admire Bush for putting himself ""Out there""like I do, Hillary, Romney,Obama...
This election I have went from side to side:Romney for new money men,Obama's picked 2 many money men from Bush.
Obama teams already engaged world wide, a dismantling and reassemble Romney team, will put America on hold, stagnation starting 2013 no thanks!
Romney advises 17 0ut of 24 from Bush team, give me a break if it were one or two OK, 17 to much like a DO OVER! I don't want to disrespect those who lost their life's, the last time those guys were in Washington saying "" Trust us 3 weeks over, no loss of life""!
Stay classly San Diego (which in German is whale's v@gina)
It is really shocking to read that a Christian preacher of the stature of Dr. Billy Graham could declare in a public forum that he and his group have now "removed the 'Mormon cult' reference from his website after meeting" with Romney the other day. How scandalous could that be, I ask? Has he lost his faith, his convictions, his mind, his standing as a Christian, or what? Has he, for the sake of a secular political Party, forfeited his soul to a "cult"? Please tell me. As a Christian, I am all confused. Perhaps, I could understand him not being able to respect the Hindu faith when on a Crusade to India in 1957, and made some disparaging remarks about Hindus, but I am appalled to find him not honoring the Christ, in whose name he had preached all these years and gained fame for what he did. SHAME ON YOU, BILLY GRAHAM. SHAME ON YOU.
CNN censures my posts, not because of any profane words, but because they support a Christian world view.
Boy, are you new.
Have you seen all the Christian drivel here?
Didn't I tell you yesterday – no censor but some words have filtered words inside like subst.itute
Prayer changes things
Baptists have only been around for 400 years, but somehow think that they invented Christianity.
Lifelong Mormon here.
Evangelicals, Catholics and other Christian denominations acknowledge theological incompatibilities between their doctrines and sacred practices like baptism they are aligned with traditional Christian faiths in:
1) their rejection of the Book of Mormon as scripture, and ...
2) their rejection of the authority, revelations and teachings of LDS church leaders including any of the teachings about Christ that do not stem from the Bible or traditional Christian creeds.
By extension, many take the stance that Mormon teachings, including those of Christ, do not come from authentic sources and therefore the Mormon faith is not a Christian sect – notwithstanding the centrality of Christ in Mormon teachings or any agreement the teachings have with the Bible itself.
Not much more or less to the issue of 'Are Mormon's Christians?' than that. I respect this viewpoint that others have of my faith.
But I also affirm my belief in the centrality of Jesus Christ to my faith, the divinity of the teachings in my faith, its power to strengthen faith in Christ and its power to change lives for the good as manifested in my own life and others in my faith.
Others may not believe that I am Christian because there are aspects of the Mormon teachings about Christ that which they feel are fabrications or myths. But I believe I am a Christian and I invite everyone investigating the Mormon faith to do so with an honest open heart. I realize it a matter between yourself and God and I respect whatever conclusions you make.
Mormons are not Christians. They are no better or worse than any other group, just not Christian.
truth be told thinks she's a One True Christian, but wouldn't recognize another if it bit her in the ass. Twice.
Mormons are no more Christian than Muslims, Bahai or any other religion that recognizes Christ as a Prophet but not as the only Prophet and son of God.
Bible = historical accounts backed up by archeology
Book Of Mormon = historical accounts contradict archeology
Believe in the book of mormon all you want, but you are still not a Christian.
Mike, I don't have a horse in this race.... but I'm curious about something I keep hearing repeated: that Mormons believe in living prophets. Also, I've heard repeated that all Mormon men are members of the priesthood after the age of 18.
Thanks for any insight!
"Bible = historical accounts backed up by archeology"
Amy in Cambridge, yes, Mormons believe that God has again called prophets to teach His word, just as He did during Biblical times. And Mormon men and boys, beginning at the age of 12, who are living church standards, are given priesthood offices and duties (although the boys start out with duties such as passing the Sacrament - what many churches call Communion - to the congregation during Sunday services. Their duties and responsibilities increase as they grow older. A 12-year-old would not be called to be a pastor, for example).
Here we go...more subtle articles of CNN and the Media reminding us that Romney is Mormon and that they are "weird" while giving themselves cover of "legit" stories...expect more in the follwoing weeks...
Oh Bullsh!t, When a presidential candidate meets with Graham it's news. If anything, this story "legitimizes" Mormons via Graham's endorsement.
Uh...the weird sells itself, dude.
Well, it looks like billies mind has finally gone, so sad
Billy Graham would sell his soul to the devil for a postage stamp.
Please give him some credit. It would have to be a very expensive, rare, gold plated postage stamp.
why in the world would you say that??
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.