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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. Thaddius

    @ME II:

    Nice tu quoque. You lose 1 point.

    =)

    October 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • ME II

      @Thaddius,
      I might have agreed, but my point was that they all are wacky, so why believe in any, not that you were being hypocritical.
      In fact, I didn't disagree that Mormonism is slightly wackier.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  2. Ruben Gonzales

    Shameful, for a great man to loose his beliefs and compromise his faith and justify a cult for gain... A man that lead so many to the cross to compromise in this way is a slap to all Christians... Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham are leading his flack to Hell by condoning and justifying this Mormon cult ... I will never listen or support them again.....

    October 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Greg C.

      Billy nor Franklin altered their principles; marriage is btween a man and a woman

      October 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • WeR4Freedom

      oooo...scary words. You must be in the Halloween mood. Scary stuff here :) Please he finally actually acted like a CHRISTIAN, unlike you and your post.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  3. sfommy

    Preacher with a Mountain Top Retreat – not much for following the teachings of Christ apparently

    October 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Greg C.

      Love the sinner not the sin.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • WeR4Freedom

      Not like mother Teresa anyway.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  4. Apotropoxy

    "A reference to Mormonism as a cult was scrubbed from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's website shortly after Mitt Romney met with the group's leader."
    ____________________________________

    Why would any Christian think Mormonism was a cult? Don't they know Jesus and Satan were created by the Father as Spirit Brothers, that the Father's home planet is called Kolob and that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • ME II

      How is that any more weird than the whole clay to man, don't eat the fruit, oh crap, now you've done it... suffer. story.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • WeR4Freedom

      So close :) LOL and Barrack Hussein Obama is not related to Sadam Hussein?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  5. apostate

    my number one reason for not voting for Mitt is that he is a mormon. mormonism is a psycho cult.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Tim

      as are all religions.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • WeR4Freedom

      Apostate... your words are as your name states...

      October 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  6. Boohincus

    This is typical of religion. It's just just corporatized 'spiritualism,' replete with all the dirty stinking hypocrisy of the big business that it is!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  7. fire0bama

    The 0bama Chicago thugs are a socialist cult.

    Vote 0bama out in November!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • jeremy

      Shut the f... up already

      October 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Thaddius

      Could you please define "socialist", moron?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  8. Chris

    Wow so for anyone's group not to be labeled a cult this is the guy you got to see?
    I want to meet him and represent the Crips!!!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  9. Dan

    Willard Romney is the consummate liar. Anyone who buys his tripe belongs to the groups referred to as the uninformed, intellectually impaired, OR a member of the 1 % club. American Crossroads ( AKA turd blossom, Karl Rove and his ilk) are conning the hard working middle class. Very sad.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • WeR4Freedom

      Your post is sad. Success doesn't come from being incompetent. However what you wrote it sounds like your the uneducated one here. Good luck with your career LOL. Food stamps is a good business isn't it?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  10. solowd

    can't wait for billy graham to die

    October 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  11. J. R. Roberts

    Can you say hypocrisy?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Dan

      Oh so true!

      October 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  12. GianCarlo

    This old man is nothing but a hypocrite. He needs to leave this earth, good riddance. This so called man of God is nothing but a money making machine. And why do prospective presidents have to go and get his freaking blessing. Who is he?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • a4mrtheist

      He will never leave this. There is no where to go but six feet under!

      October 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Haas

      Who the hell is he?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  13. Linda Ardizzone

    How convenient, impeccable timing.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  14. gager

    Religion is a cult and Billy is a scam artist.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • a4mrtheist

      Very true. All religions deviate in some way or their would not be so many. Bottom line BG sold out for the "good" of xtianity.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  15. Tino

    INCREDIBLE...Mormon church one time cult and now everything is ok?....SHAME AND MORE SHAME....

    October 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  16. Ambrose Smith

    Hey Billy Graham, why don't you bring in the Book of Mormon into church and preach from it? I dare you!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  17. fire0bama

    Dear Gov. Romney,

    The liberal media is out to get you. Please do not be afraid of them. We the people are behind you.

    Go Gov. Romney and Go America!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • gager

      I'm a republican atheist. Religion is a cult and a crutch for the weak.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Dan

      Didn't finish the 5th grade, correct?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • fire0bama

      Dan, I have a Ph.D. in engineering from a top 10 university.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • jon m

      Moron

      October 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • gager

      Finished a very nice education, that's why I'm an atheist.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • fire0bama

      A PhD in....dickery. Bend over Mitt, I'm right behind you.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • notogop

      I worked with dozens of engineers. I'm not impressed with your credentials or your position.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • WeR4Freedom

      I am not interested in any of your credentials because we are not voting for you losers...however we have a choice between a failed 4 year president Hussein or a Successful Businessman who was CEO of a TOP us company, Ran the OLYMPICS and was a GOVERNOR. The Choice is CLEAR AMERICA.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  18. Anne

    There is a big difference between teaching one's beliefs and brainwashing. Regardless of the "truth" of their beliefs, Mormonism is no more a cult than the Catholic church or any Protestant denomination. The real "cults" intimidate and brainwash their people.

    Okay, so Graham did the right thing in removing the reference. Whether he did it for the right or wrong reasons doesn't really matter to me. Maybe it is as simple as he met Romney and no longer "fears" what he didn't understand.

    I wish that more Americans could meet some of the more decent, good, law-abiding, non-terrorist Muslims. Then people wouldn't fear Islam, they would simply realize that the terrorists are not true Muslims any more than terrorist Christians are true Christians.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  19. onestarman

    Romney Meets with Billy Graham and BEHOLD Graham is a Million Dollars Richer and Mormons are God's Chosen People.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • WeR4Freedom

      I am pretty sure Billy Graham made all his money on his followers and not Mitt Romney... but it was a nice try.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  20. fire0bama

    CNN talks about whether the Mormon church is considered as a "cult" a few hours before the second debate. CNN does NOT want to talk about 0bama's record and failure.

    CNN "journalists" = small and dirty liberals

    October 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • skoodsports

      Are you serious? CNN has been riding Romney's jock for weeks now.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Thaddius

      ZOMG IT"S A LIBRUL CONSPIRACY!!!!!!!111111

      October 16, 2012 at 6:11 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.