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.
Mormons murdered Everett Ruess and hid his body and belongings.
– a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.
– a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal.
Not much wiggle room there.
I see lots of wiggle room. Whats the difference between shared beliefs and veneration of a shared ideals?
Your definition of a cult as a group who venerates the same person sure sounds like christianity to me.
oops, did I miss your intended sarcasm?
LOL! You may have, but no worries!
Yes, I was making the comparison between the two words as being no different....not much wiggle room between the two to be able to differentiate.
You are slightly correct. I was told that in Latin "Cult" means a group. So if you go by this definition then you are correct. In this context though, he is referring to a group that deviates from historical Christianity. In that respect, Mormonism would be considered a cult of Christianity.
If this isn't politically motiviated I really don't know what is!
Don't get me wrong; religious domination doesn't matter to me, I am christian and what Mr. Romney believes are his belief's are his, but the second he dictates to me or anyone else that they have to believe one way or the other; then there will be a fight about religious freedom from me. That is why I so strongly disagree with Pat Robertson and the Religious Right.
That is why I will not vote for anyone that attaches themselves to the Religious Right!
hinduism, absurdity called Christianity is nothing but hinduism, opportunism, justified by hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, seculars.
Whoa there little pollywog!! You must be kafir to call everyone else filthy! Did you set your wife on fire today? Are you going to stone your daughter for dampening her panties?
How much $$$ did Mitt promise to Billy?
half of the loot after having been elected.
Whoa there little piggy! I was raised as a Christian but the most pious people I have met are Hindus. Their relationship with God is so much closer, stronger and healthier than that of Christians and Muslims. In fact, just a tiny bit of study would show you how much Christianity follows Hinduism. Start with the polytheistic "Trinity" and go from there.
Prayer changes things.
Yeah ! keeping hoping you will go away.
What do you care if there are atheists? Will you go to hell because there are atheists on earth? Show me the scripture.
Wow – wonder how big that donation was!
Millions of dollars my friends make people change their mind. Modern days Balaam.
So correct Bob and the fellow named Rob who agreed with you. We know there is collusion. Republicans are desperate because they know that they are losing. Romney is frightening.
Evolution of thought. Someone saw a different light? Or does the hatred/dislike for Obama outweigh the considered conclusion on the nature of Mormonism?
Obama is, you know, shhhhhh, "colored". Why he is black. Jesus was English for a reason!
The only difference between a 'Cult' and a 'Religion' is the number of members
Franklin Graham is an avowed racistr and speaks often and publicly against people of color. He and his sister are fighting each other for power inheriting their father's religion business. Itr will be laughable watching Graham's children expose the truth about owning a private religion business when their father dies. Money conquers all and these family religion businesses are all about money. Almighty God went out the window centuries ago when people discovered how much money they could make pimping His for private wealth. Mitt Romney has a private planet where he and the rest of the Mormons are going when the die and none of us ar invited. Mitt should tell all of us just where the planet Kolob is and how is he going to get there? Spaceship?
You are right about the religion business. Look at the TBN creeps. That old harlot looking pink-haired trollop Jan Crouch needs another facelift! Maybe another wig or a jet plane. Those people are a joke and they have stolen money for decades. We need to implement a special tax code for them and make them account for all the money they have absconded with and make them pay it back in taxes. I agree with you about Franklin and his sister trying to take over the religious "dynasty" when the old goat kicks the bucket. He cannot go soon enough for them. Talk about a family feud.
I didn't even know he was still alive
So essentially, what this is, is one of the rare, and only times that differing religious views actually do come together under one umbrella to promote something they both can find middle ground on....like legal discrimination against gay people, laws based on the beliefs of one religion only, control over women's bodies, etc...
What Graham meant when he said "I'll do everything I can to help you..." was that deep down he really does believe Mormons are a cult, but his dislike of a black Christian exceeds his dislike of a white cultist.
Exactly. Well put
Money grubbing religious hypocrites. All of them witches.
please don't misuse the term witches. I know lots of witches. Most of them are decent people.
Perfect analysis of the situation. They hate the President's skin color and will do anything to get back at him. They are the old south all over again. Die, Billy Graham, please go to the other side quickly. Face your God and let Him tell you how wrong you are. You are risking hellfire to treat another Christian that way to favor a cult member.
Wow, poof! Once a cult, now a mainstream religion. Billy Graham says so, so God must agree... NOT!
So they got bullied into changing their minds....Way to go Mitt!
When a cult has been around long enough to garner its own cultic splits, we call it a religion. All major modern religions on earth today are cults.
Pot v. kettle; they's both cults
How do you say hypocrite in baptistee? Oh yeah, hypocrite
Probably offered a cut of the revenue stream.
Don't fold Billy! They are a cult who have distanced themselves from Christianity from the beginning. Only now when they wanted to be accepted by the mainstream do they refer to themselves as Christians.
Someone else said it, but its true...
The only difference between a cult and a religeon is the number of adherents.
After all these years,
what a sad figure have you become,
Mr. Billy Graham.
A sellout would be an understatement.
Yes, yes, yes...very sad. Sell out!
It is disgusting to watch that old fossil kiss Mitt the magic undies guy's behind for some strange reason. Mitt is on the way to hell and Billy won't be far behind for the treatment he is sending the Presiden't way. Tax all churches, religious organization, etc. They don't deserve free money. TAX THEM FOR THE DECADES THEY HAVE STOLEN MONEY.
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.