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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

    I've always enjoyed Jack T Chick's "expose'" on Mormonism:

    http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0061/0061_01.asp

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

      It won't mean a thing to atheists of course, but definetely a valid explanation of why Mormonism is contradictory to Biblical Christianity.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  2. tet1953

    Saw Frankie boy being interviewed on CNN the other day. Given 3 opportunities to answer, he would not say that Mormonism is not a cult.

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

      Q: What's the difference between a religion and a cult? A: The number of members.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  3. JohnBorg

    I don't believe Mormonism is a cult. However, I think this demonstrates that evangelicals are willing to go for anyone who will help the rich. Evangelicals use to be anti-catholic as well, until people like Santorum and Ryan started popping up. Yet, Catholicism doesn't break orthodoxy, whereas Mormonism does (and very often). This is about power and money, not religion. Conservative Evangelicalism has long been a mask for power.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  4. KM

    Words can't describe the disappointment and sadness I feel after reading this article. Seems Billy Graham has lost his honor, and he's lost my respect.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  5. Shelly

    ALL religions are cults, Mormons included. Why remove the truth?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • SAM

      READ THE ARTICLE! (I'm just drawing attention, not yelling) Billy Graham's ministry is only doing this because they don't want to "get into a theological discussion about a religion that has become so politicized" right now. The reporter who wrote the headline is misleading readers.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  6. Suzan

    I would much rather have a Mormon that still knows Jesus, than a Moslem predenting to be a christian to be accepted by the American people. Do you think what is hapening in the Midle East during Obama's term is an accident?? think again!!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • jeremy

      He isn't a Muslim mooreon

      October 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Shelly

      ROFL HAHAHAHAHAH Poor simple minded fool.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Billy Graham Sells Out

      Pretty sure this is a satire. Notice the terrible grammar and spelling as well as complete ignorance of the tenets of all three faiths (hint: they're all different).
      If it was serious, well it's still hilarious in a sad kind of way.

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

      I hate to say this, but you only think that because he has an African name and is black. Be honest. If John Kerry was president, many of the policies would be the same, but you wouldn't doubt his religious faith, let alone assign him with a different one. Also, you have an obvious uneducated prejudice against Muslims – the majority aren't terrible.

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

      I hope you don't call yourself a Christian. Christians are supposedly non-judgmental and kind. You are neither. Not to mention, just uninformed.

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

      Are you out of tinfoil for your hat? Did the naughty aliens shoot their mind control beams at you?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Suzan

      I am from the middle east and I know a lot more about what is happening there than all of you only reading about it!!

      October 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  7. monarch811@gmail.com

    well it is still a cult

    October 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  8. JD

    Is it November 7th. yet?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • WES1964

      If only in our minds...

      October 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  9. Deva

    Billy Graham, you are a disgrace to the Christian faith. How could I, as a Christian, stand before a non-Christian and declare to him/her that Jesus Christ is the only way, the truth and the life – the ONLY way to salvation. Billy, tell me, please tell me.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Shelly

      You're no different! ANYONE who believes any religous nonsense is a disgrace to the human race.

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

      I am a non-denomenational Chirstian and I dont think we should point a finger at anyone specially if we don't know enough about his religion. Mormons are nown of their quality life and hard work, I wish the ones that don't believe in any thing could at least become Mormons

      October 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • sam

      Suzan...are you a different Suzan than the one that just spouted a bunch of insane nonsense about Obama above?? Uh, finger pointing...

      October 16, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  10. LDS Dude

    People really need to learn the definition of the word cult. You can't just label anything you don't agree with as a cult.

    Here is the definition: a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.

    Wow, not only does this describe every religion in the world, it also sounds a lot like every political party in the world.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • eqgold

      Here's a little shorter description:
      Q: What's the difference between a religion and a cult? A: The number of members.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  11. Tammy

    His web site calls Mormons a cult and then then they have the gall to say "As such, he never proselytized, targeted or labeled specific people, groups, faiths or denominations". Hypocrit much?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  12. Austin Cooper

    This is the reason you do not mix one's religious beliefs with government policies.. People decide what they want to belief or are against based on convenience .... Billy Graham preached Jesus in the 50s, 60s, etc, but never preached against slavery or the inhumane treat of the one race by the other...

    October 16, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  13. AgrippaMT

    It's amazing that Billy Graham is still alive and still such a racist bigot. He's been like that all of his life, and his son/successor, Franklin is even more so. Happily, one of these days, Billy will be burning in one of the deeper pits of Hell.

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

      Don't you think it is a bit arrogant to declare who is and isn't going to be burning in hell? As people we should be spending more time reflecting and acting upon on our own actions and ethical behavior, and less worrying about who's religious doctrine is the best.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  14. Plainjane

    Isn't that convenient. What a bunch of hypocrite, liars and wolves in sheeps clothing. A shame to ruin such a legacy. God is not happy with this.

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

      READ THE ARTICLE! (I'm just drawing attention, not yelling) Billy Graham's ministry is only doing this because they don't want to "get into a theological discussion about a religion that has become so politicized" right now. The reporter who wrote the headline is misleading readers.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • pbernasc

      God does not exist, he is a fictional character... like Santa Clause

      October 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  15. demsrule

    This is pathetic! One preacher I thought would never sell out! Across the board the religious GOP has suddenly "changed" their minds on Mormonism. This is the same thing the Bible warned "true" Christians about-...they will turn to fables...!

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

      Christianity turned to "fables" the moment of the Aposltes were killed. A perfect example is the Council of Nicea when Christians began mixing the ideas of Neoplatonism in with the teachings of Christ.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  16. G. Hawkins

    That is crazy.. So the Mormon Church is a cult one day and not a cult today because you want to Christians to vote for Romney... I love Rev Graham but this is a terrible move on his organization's part...I have been critical of so call "Rev" on the Democratic side and now I'm disappointed with the so called Evangelical Christians on the Republican side... God is not political and we shouldn't try to manipulate people using His name... on either side of the aisle ....

    October 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  17. George

    What a sad story....Billy Graham is proving more and more that he sold out. He came out with this inclusion teaching about ten years ago, maybe more. If he teaches what the Bible says, like he states, then, call it like it is. Mormon doctrine is totally different from what the Bible teaches. Their beliefs are based on the teachings of one man, Joseph Smith. He was a scoundrel of scoundrels if you look back in history. People that knew him even state that he was an opportunist and he was known for making up wild stories even before writing the Book of Mormon. I wonder how many people are going to continue to side with him on this, because many of his board of directors like Greg Laurie and even Chuck Smith will still say that Mormonism is a cult. Big rift coming, get ready!

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

      Most Christian Churches having teachings that deviate from the Bible. If they all followed the words of the Bible the same, there wouldn't be so many churches. Mormons simply don't believe in the precepts of the ancient creeds such as the Nicean Creed, Apostles Creed, etc. Also, Joseph Smith wasn't a scoundral. I don't know what history you're reading.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • George

      @Warren...

      It's called American History. Look back and you'll find it. Stop looking at what the LDS say is history and search it out for yourself. David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Hiram Page and others who started the LDS with Joseph Smith attest that the Mormons were trying to kill them!!!! What a prophet huh? Shut your mouth and stop defending things you know nothing about!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • George

      And as for the Nicean Creed and Apostle's Creed, I said nothing about those things. I said the Bible. Sure there are many churches and denominations that are sincerely wrong as well. David Whitmer started the Church of Christ, which is wrong! Charles Tate started the Jehovah's Witnesses that are wrong! Those that advocate them are wrong. Any person or group that teach contrary to the Bible are wrong. There is no gray area!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • George

      Also, here are just a few of Mormon falicies....Mormons believe that Jesus is the brother of Lucifer – not true! How can Jesus be his brother if Jesus created him? Jesus is creator read John 1:1. Black people are a result of there complacency in the war between God and satan...where do you find that in the Old or New Testament? God continuously repeats Himself in scripture by more than one witness. Case in point Isaiah, Jeremmiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and most of the other prohets said the same exact things. Nobody in the Bible said that about black people! Jesus said there'd come a time when false prophets would rise and Paul said if any angel of light comes with any other doctrine than what you've heard from us, do not accept it. Mormons teach that Joseph Smith will sit with God and Jesus as judge at the end of time. That's not in the Bible either.

      Mormons deviate from more than creeds...they changed doctrine and plagerized the Old and New Testament to create the Book of Mormon, Pearl of great price, and all the others – changing things as they needed to fit their teaching! I think I've made my point enough.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  18. starman

    FYI: They are all cults. Some have just been around for a few thousands of years and have created enough of an altered universe of false history for their brain washed indoctrinated members that they don’t see it.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  19. fire0bama

    0bama + Biden = empty suit + an angry laughing old man

    Romney/Ryan 2012!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • pbernasc

      stupid people a re those who seek self inflicting pain, man u r soooo stupid

      October 16, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • jeremy

      Angry...laughing.... ummm. Can you comprehend what you just wrote?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Plainjane

      this is a reply to fireObama – I suppose you or anyone in your family is looking forward to retire with social security, or needing help when they get sick from Medicare, or, I guess you don't mind the 1% paying l4% taxes, while the rest of us hard working Americans have to pay 30%. Are you serious???

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

      @Plainjane:

      Oh, I'm sure fire0bama is independently wealthy.

      *LOL*

      October 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  20. Lonewolf

    This is pure politics. Graham using the pulpit to promote a candidate who's religion he believes is a cult, but because Romney is the final Republican candidate, he is willing to to take a step back on his long standing beliefs. What a hypocrit.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:10 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.