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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. Phil

    All religions are cults. Definition: "Cult – A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object."

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

      I feel HOPE when I see people like you.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • SAM

      I'm shocked by how many people here haven't 'really' read this article. They are still a cult, they just don't want to debate it theologically during this election time with the mormons having become so politicized.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  2. SC

    The so-called "good Christians" really gross me out. They don't have any good principles they won't negotiate/compromise on. They will believe blindly, forgive and forget easily. These are the very same people who don't mean what they say and who don't say what they mean. These people and Romney can gang up together as they change their positions so fast as goat testicles swing from side to side so often.

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

      HAVE YOU READ THE ARTICLE? THEY'RE STILL VIEWED AS A CULT.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • fofo

      I wonder how much the crook Romney paid to bribe another crook?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  3. KaufmanD

    How disappointing that Mr. Graham would dabble in politics again. Didn't he learn his lesson with Richard Nixon? I do not care if it was Obama or Romney, I wished that the main stream iconic preachers/ministers including charities such as Samaritan's Purse would excuse themselves from the corruption that is associated with the political process. I guess Mitt didn't see Billy Graham as "high risk" like he did of the host of The View. Regarding Samaritan's Purse, I'll think twice before I give to your charity again. Pretty sad...

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

      I'm shocked by how many people here haven't 'really' read this article. They are still a cult, they just don't want to debate it theologically during this election time with the mormons having become so politicized.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • SAM

      Continue to give to Samaritan's Purse. The reporter here has mislead reader's with his headline. It only tells a small bit of the story and has caused an uproar!

      October 16, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  4. asdf21

    A cult is defined as a church that is start by a man. They were started by Jesus. So if you think Jesus was a man then yes they are a cult. I personally beleive Jesus is God, therfore making them christian.

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

      How convenient!

      October 16, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Rich - Vero Beach, FL

      The Mormons were started by a man – Joseph Smith and was considered a cult for the next 150 plus years.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  5. William Polhamus

    Did he remove his own cult of christianity from the list?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  6. Darthnormand

    I wonder what Billy Graham's price was. This is strange how one visit could change a religious leader/icon idea of blasphemous religions. Not judging, it is a fact.

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

      HEADLINE IS MISLEADING. READ THE ARTICLE. THEY ARE STILL VIEWED AS A CULT

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

      READ ARTICLE, HEADLINE MISLEADING!

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

      Sam...Good luck. Most come to the sites just to read the headline and comment. They need validation. They aren't interested in actually learning anything. Thanks!

      October 16, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  7. xuaerdub

    Oh Billy, this isn't the first time you've allied with the Devil. So, how much of this Mormon doctrine do we now adapt in our Protestant faith?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  8. asdf21

    The Church of Jesus Christ does not beleive they split from other churches they beleive they were restarted (aka restored) by Jesus Christ. Beleiving that the orig. church was more or less destroyed when the apostles ( aka peter james john paul est.) were killed.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  9. Saint_John

    The LDS church most certainly is a cult and they are by no means christians. Mormons believe that they will eventually become gods themselves and rule their very own planets. IIRC, wasn't satan's transgression the desire to become a god? Religions, all of them, make no sense whatsoever. They are all nothing but a stinking heap of lies. Lies on top of lies. Most christians do agree on who the father of all lies is. Pleased to meet you, won't you guess my name...

    October 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  10. Rib

    After listening to Dr. Graham all of these year I'm very sad to see that one would compromise the very name of Jesus for the sake of politic, When you know that the Mormon faith is oppose to the teachings of Jesus Christ,and when you are opposed to the teachings of Jesus, that means you are anti-Christ,,,,,, Very disappointed.!!!!!!!!!

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

    All my past yrs, Mormonism was hammered home to us that it was a cult. Just like the Church to bend come election time. Now, let's move on and be even more real, BG, FG and Joel...consider other beliefs like spiritual and unity movements that appear to me to be more in attuned to Christ's love than the fear and judgement of the traditional evangelical(my Way or Your Doomed Way) church...

    October 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  12. Witchmoon

    Unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable. A political candidate blatantly utilizing a religious organization to promote his agenda. Romney has really stepped over the line on separating church and state. Not all Americans huddle under the Christian umbrella!!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  13. Kelcy, Colorado

    Wonder how much Romney had to donate to the Billy Graham charity to get this done? Of course, it is not that Graham does not still believe Mormons are a cult or that he and his followers won't continue to preach that.....they just won`t have it on their website.

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

      HEADLINE IS MISLEADING. READ THE ARTICLE AND WHAT IT'S REALLY SAYING. THEY ARE STILL A CULT IN BGEA

      October 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  14. Deva

    Billy Graham, the Hypocrite!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  15. Dean

    Can we talk about how graham looks like a freaking undead corpse!? God help us he seriously looks like a living ghost that you would see in a haunted house attraction!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  16. jfb

    LOL

    October 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  17. Fn0rdz

    It will be a great day when (not "if") America elects a president who does not pray at all.

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

      Yes!

      October 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  18. Andreas

    Isn't it all B_S anyway?!?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  19. gman986

    I am surpised but not shocked the the Billy Graham Evangalistic Association would give in to politial pressures and remove the page about Mormons being a cult. I quit supporting the association years ago when I found out Franklin Graham was drawing close to a million dollar salary.

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

    This is indeed unfortunate, and shows how well Romney can portray Mormon propaganda. Let us not forget that Billy Graham is very advanced in age and may not be making the most well thought-out decisions. The Mormons have some very agressive ways to phrase their doctrines and explain those that people have heard of but can't examine unless they are actually members of that organization. That doesn't make them any more real. Mormonism is not scholarly Christianity and can't make itself be that by deflecting hard questions. I think Billy Graham didn't have the right questions for Romney, didn't have the aggressive push for Christian knowledge. It's definitely a step back for his ministry!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:15 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.