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.
Politics first, following the teaching of Christ second. (Not that I care but these Baptist followers are huge hypocrites.)
As an alienated Baptist myself – you're sadly, sadly right.
I'm glad to see the guy who played Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars films is still getting work. He did a pretty good job in what was a dreadful series of prequels.
I see this as nothing but another political move by a religious organization....plain and simple. I don't think the LDS Church is a cult, never have, but it is funny how so many evangelicals and other protestant Christians have....but now they won't? Or won't through this election anyway? Interesting timing....to say the least!
"A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith."
Last time I checked, no denomination of the Christian faith recognizes a book written by an American in the early 19th century as the word of God. The Bible (New Testament or Old) says nothing about God being a man living on planet Kolob, either. There is also no mention of the Garden of Eden being in Missouri. It's also hard to miss that the Mormon faith is polytheistic. Christianity doesn't view Adam as a god, but Mormonism does. In Christianity there is only one God. I also don't remember anything in the Bible about people with dark skin being marked by God for being "unrighteous".
I don't care what Mitt Romney's religion is and wouldn't call Mormonism any more of a cult than other religions, but let's not pretend it's Christianity. Mormonism is about as Christian as the Prophet Mohammed or Lord Xenu. Billy Graham taking Mormonism off of his list of cults when it clearly fits his definition of a cult is a shameless betrayal of his own ideals based on partisan politics, and it's disgusting and sad.
Seems Christians would rather have a Republican in office than a Christian. Seems money is trumping religion. Isn't money the root of all evil? What do you guys think about yourselves when you vote for more money rather than more Christianity?
Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?
Actually, it's "love of money" that's the root of all evil. Either way, suits them to a T!
Mormon Church's do not have crosses on their steeples, they do not believe that Jesus is God.
This brakes my heart, i was raised going to Billy Graham meetings and our family has always considered Mr. Graham a true Evangelical, a man that had the heart of Christ.
My only guess is that he needs to put his full support behind Mitt due to the fact that Obama has turned his back on Israel and is unable to lead this our country.
You have hit the nail squarely on the head.
After the Obama's spent TWENTY YEARS in Wright's 'God damn America', anti-American, racist church, the church's website tripped over itself, sanitizing their links ... in a feverish attempt to remove references to their 'Black Values' code, which demanded an oath from the Obama's to provide preferences to Blacks, before all other races. Unfortunately, along with the church, the biased, pro-Obama, mainstream media ignored, or buried stories exposing this practice.
Maybe that story would have gotten more play if the far right wasn't so busy calling our president a Kenyan Muslim Communist.
By the way, here's a direct quote from Rev. Wright about the Obamas ”Church is not their thing. It was never their thing.”
whatever howard, you forgot to do some sad weeping about how he's supposedly also muslim.
Hey, look! They already mummified Billy Graham! :)
what money and racism can do, .. amazing isn't it ?
Religion is for people who use all the muscles in their bodies except the one that counts. Religious people are scared to use their minds.
Are you an admitted muscle-head?
Mind is an abstract concept, not a muscle.
iIt was a play on words.....duh!
The act of isolation involved [in concept-formation] is a process of abstraction.......happy now?
This is sad, Billy Graham & son are like Mitt Romney. Which ever way the wind blows. First you are for then you are against. I have never in my life time witnessed such phonies. It's no wonder religion is getting such a bad name & people are leaving the church. I will never attend a church that brings politics into the fabric of what a church is supposed to stand for. Sad.
Anybody think Billy Graham looks like the Emperor from Star Wars? Maybe cross with old man Potter from It's A Wonderful LIfe?
Y'all are so funny. Why do you care what Billy G or his son or anyone else thinks about the Mormons? Is that what determines what you believe? Is this how it works? Mormons are sincere, genuine, loving people. Give it a break.
And there are Mormons out there who are horrible c.unts also.
They sure genuinely loved over 100 European immigrants when they dressed up like indians and brutally murdered them in 1857....
Would have never thought that Billy Graham would sell his soul for political purposes. Wow. And this close to meeting his maker, too. Looks like Mitt isn't the only one with shifting values.
The Mormons are definitely a cult. I live in Mesa, Arizona in an area with a high concentration of Mormons. There is a strong amount of control and coercion with their scheme. They have a very clean cut image but if you do not buy into their program which requires a commitment of 10% of your income then they will cut you off and call you an apostate. They try to isolate you in hopes that you will become so miserable that you will realize that their way is the only way. It won't work with me. We have found other community networks and friends. I don't like their tactics and warn anyone to stay clear. They are wolves in sheeps clothing.
I am very sorry you had a bad experience. If Mormons behaved the way that you describe then they have reason to repent. That said, please don't paint millions of people with the brush of one person's viewpoint. I have never been taught to reject or isolate anyone. Quite the opposite. I have a brother who has rejected the Church and the whole family is still very close. People make mistakes regardless of their religion.
Mormonism IS a cult if you use the fundamental definition that it teaches beliefs which take away from the efficacy of Christs sacrifice on the cross...but ...so what. This isn't a Theocracy and we have freedom of religion here. I'm not looking for a messiah but a secular leader to lead the USA.
What's the secular purpose of a gay marriage ban?
Lindsey Graham (R-SC) does the GOP math, and doesn’t like what he sees:
“The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
Joe Biden is your typical angry white man.
Vote 0bama/Biden out in November!
"Blah blah blah I hate you CNN but I come post here anyway baaaaawwwwwww, I'm so hardcore cause I spell Obama with a 0, baaaaawwwwwwwww."
"A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith."
Mormonism is still a CULT by BIBLE teahings.
The Bible does not teach that Satan and Christ are Brothers. That all whites become gods and blacks become angels. The list goes on and on.
Voting for Mitt is voting for a satanist.
Billy Graham's statement is in keeping with Biblical Prophecy. IN THE LAST DAYS, THERE WILL BE A FALLING AWAY. PEOPLE WILL BELIEVE LYING SEDUCING SPIRITS. Billy is just fulfilling this prophecy.
Amen my brother. Nail this loser to the wall.
Millions of dollars my friend make people change their mind. Modern days Balaam.
Senator moajority leader Harry Reid is a Mormon.
CNN, stop your dirty trick to make the Mormon church an issue a few hours before the debate. Stop discrimination against other people's religeous beliefs!
And by other people, I just mean me! trollolololololololol
Why is it that professed haters of CNN continue to frequent the site to presumably get all their news here? Or do you just like to troll through the internet spreading your self-righteous bile?
Uhhhhhh....Harry Reid don't like Mitt either
If the shoe was on the other foot you would be screeming like a banshee.
It is an issue because the religious right is giving Mitt Romney a pass because he is a Republican. Why didn't Graham take Mormonism off of his list of cults for Harry Reid?
A cult (from the root word OCCULT, meaning "hidden") is, by definition, a group or congregation which maintains a significant degree of secrecy and exclusion in regards to their practices, rituals, and initiations.
Go ahead and try to get in to the Salt Lake City LDS temple and see how many uniformed thugs intercept you. If that isn't secretive and "cult-like" then I don't know what is.
Your ethymology is wrong. "Cultus" in Latin means just worship and it is a cognate of "culture".
According to thedictionary, a cult is any "system of religious belief or teaching", which means that ALL religions are cults, and the only difference between them is the number of people they have managed to con into following them. The idea of someone who believes in magic underwear and secret handshakes to "get into heaven" having control over nuclear weapons is just as frightening to me as the idea of someone who believes that an invisible magic man in the sky speaks to them through voices in their heads having control over nuclear weapons; they're BOTH certifiably insane.
secrecy, this is the group that sends people to your door to tell you about what they beleive at their own cost. The group that when they fist open a temple they open there temples for the whole world to come see again at there own expense. Yes they are really secretive.
I love how christian churches come up with their own random definitions of the word "cult". I'm a Mormon and I have read all kinds of anti-Mormon literature which tries to disprove the church and it's beliefs. You give 1 or 2 reasons why you think the Mormons are a cult religion and you leave it at that and come to the conclusion that there is no response, no rebuttle and what is worse is that you are probably too ignorant to even think about making the effort to go out and search for the response! It drives me crazy!!! Please people, I beg you. Try to be a rational human being and listen to what you are saying. For those of you who don't believe in Christ, or God for that matter, then you obviously don't care about this other than your own objective to be a good person (Which I believe Christ is the perfect role model). But for those of you who have faith in Christ, that he is the way to true happiness, I would encourage you to think before you post. Be loving and understanding. Seek the rational knowledge behind things like "Mormons become Gods and Blacks become Angels" (which is false by the way). I'm a Mormon and according to some of the definitions of "cult" do match up to Mormons, BUT please revisit your definition of cult and make sure you are understanding the connotation. Technically we can call all religions "cults" by a dictionary definition.
Millions of dollars my friends make people change their mind. Modern days Balaam.
that is totally messed up.
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.