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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. guest

    wow-pastor i work for says it's a cult-guess Graham broke bread and changed his mind.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  2. NoTags

    Billy Graham adopted the 'new age religion' theology several years ago. There is a video on YouTube where Graham talks about this with Robert Schuller.

    I was really hurt to see this since over the years Graham lead many people to Jesus Christ. Graham then deserted Jesus Christ; "I am the way, the truth, and the life:" (John 14:6) when he accepted 'new age religion' theology.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  3. smart man

    Jesus Never Existed dot com

    October 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  4. pimpernickel

    Billy sure has integrity doesn't he?

    October 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • grafixer

      ...Anything for the GOP. Anything. The religious right will do or say... ANYTHING. That simply isn't moral.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  5. JoeS

    The truth is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is actually the only true Christian Church.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • grafixer

      EVERY Christian church says that. Every one of them. None are any better than another. They are all exclusive – which is incongruous with what their Jesus taught.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • mylife55

      Sure they are, troll. Go wash your magic underwear.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  6. smart man

    Christards are the biggest cult ever. All stupid people.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • pat carr

      Christards LOL i never thought of that one

      October 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • mylife55

      What a cute and sad little atheist.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  7. Robert

    There is only one truth! Truth is absolute! Oh, well, we can make an exception for politics. I knew this day would come.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  8. Dorkus Maximus

    Billy Graham makes Jesus cry.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • ME II

      Apparently everyone makes Jesus cry

      October 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  9. Texas

    Imagine that; a cult calling a cult a cult.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  10. Shane

    Way to stick to your faith Graham. Sell out to the Mormon because you don't like the President.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • kirby

      Isn't that just amazing...........really sad

      October 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • urouttolunch

      Hey, the candidate came and kissed the ring of the great Graham. What do you expect?

      October 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  11. Dorkus Maximus

    When asked about the BGEA removed reference to Mormonism as a cult on their website, Billy Graham replied, "Cult schmult!"

    October 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  12. no friend of vatican

    i think the old boy was duped by tricky mitty

    October 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  13. sean

    Now you get to vote for either a Christian or a Mormon. You will break bread with one in heaven and the other won't be there. Ephesians 2:8-9,
    Romans 10:9-13,
    John 3:16

    October 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • sam

      What kind of bread is in heaven, anyway? Is it the kind they tell you not to fill up on in restaurants?

      October 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • sean

      its the best bread you'll have ever ate. And you won't gain any weight.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • ME II

      Who grows the wheat for bread in heaven? ... and where, for that matter?

      October 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • grafixer

      You won't break bread with any of them in "heaven".
      -Americans 20:12

      October 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  14. gunnard larson

    any politician who actively seeks the endorsement of a narrow minded old goat has lost my vote. My parents took me to see the old BIlly as a child. Even then I could tell that he was nothing but a money grubbing mind hating conman.

    I bet the Grahams and Romney had lots to talk about it. Mostly their obscene wealth in the face of global poverty. And how they have gotten wealthy by selling a false religions.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • James

      You do realize the Graham's have prolly done more to help world poverty and other issues than most people in our generation right? Maybe before you open your mouth and speak false truths about them you should do a little research and see what these men actually do. I volunteer for one of their organizations, Samaritan's Purse, and we do a lot of work to try and make the world a better place for those less fortunate. They donate their time, money, and efforts in a lot of these causes. It's ok if you aren't a religious person and you chose not to believe, but no reason to run others down because of what you THINK about them. You don't know their hearts or motivations...believe it or not but some people in this world really do love God and love people and spend their lives showing that. It's not all about money like you think it is.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • gunnard larson

      I know what samaritans purse is. Like I said my parents were fundimentalist missionaries. As a youth I participated in similar "religious charities." pennies to dollars my friend. The grahams give just enough to make it look like they are generous just like all christians who make a good living off of other peoples suffering.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  15. Sally Wells

    What a patoot kisser Graham has become.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  16. ricksta

    The funniest thing is 'Ole Billy doesn't know the definition of "cult."

    October 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  17. Bushney

    They must kiss the snake.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  18. mike

    All three of them need a kick in the nads.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  19. bob

    The LDS churchs doctrine is actually more like the original church set up by Christ than any other church on earth.
    After Christs death, The original church that was set up by Christ was changed and corrupted over time and many teachings and doctrines lost.
    The LDS faith is a very Christ centered faith!

    October 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • ME II

      Really, according to what?
      Gold plates buried in upstate NY?

      October 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • ME II

      Don't get me wrong. "Traditional" christian religions are ridiculous too, but seer stones? .... really... come on.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • barbraS

      Then why is Joseph Smith the prophet if Christ is so revered? Also, Christianity requires that the only holy books are the Old and New Testament. LDS has a third, hence they are not Christians. Which is okay, but really, stop calling yourself Christians!

      October 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Up for a thought?

      Not the first pair, but the second pair of plates:-)

      October 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • ME II

      BarbraS,
      Hey, they believe in Jesus as the Christ (or savior). Why wouldn't they be Christians?

      October 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • freethinker2012

      Church and state should be separate. There is no business for personal beliefs to interfere with tax policy, war, the rights of people, education, etc. If any religious organization gets political and makes lofty donations to candidates, they should be taxed heavily as corporations and individuals are taxed. A bit of fairness is needed in our government. Maybe then, Mr. Ryan's tax plan would work.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • ME II

      @Up for a thought?,
      Good point. The first ones were just of show, right? The real ones were later.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • grafixer

      "After Christ died... the original Church was set up by Christ..." Doesn't that make you think that men actually set it up? If not... if your god was doing it from afar... then there is no reason to believe that your god did not also set up all other faiths before and after that. Geesh. This is nonsense.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Thaddius

      Mormonism is only slightly less wacky than Scientology.

      The Christian Bible is oddly silent on Kolob.

      The Christian Bible doesn't teach that its devout members will become gods themselves and be given a planet / universe / unearthly domain to rule as its diety when they die.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Brainiac

      If Mormon's want to be like the original church they need to toss the book fo Mormon, for starters.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • ME II

      @Thaddius
      "Mormonism is only slightly less wacky than Scientology."

      ... and Protestantism is only slightly less wacky than that.

      ... and Judaism is only slight less wacky than that

      Try reason.... 0 wackiness.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • LinSea

      barbaraS, throughout the Bible, the Lord called prophets and apostles to teach His word. Mormons believe He has done so again. The Book of Mormon is another testimony of Christ–it further supports the teachings of the Holy Bible. We know there are differences between us and traditional Christianity, but our very most important belief, like all Christians, is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Savior and that it is only through Him that we can be saved. We try to follow Christ's teachings and live the way He taught we should.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • NoTags

      Joseph Smith was nothing but a shyster and false prophet which he proved by falsely translating the Egyptian burial papiri as the book of Abraham.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  20. nvmature

    Billy Graham and certainly his son are avowed Republicans. I find it embarrassing they would politicize religion in order to get Romney elected.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
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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.