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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. Dejavu65

    I wonder how much did the super rich Romney pay him to take the "cult" word out....So Graham has had this on his website for over 20 years and all of a sudden he takes it off from one visit...believe what you believe Graham...these Repubs are really trying to buy this election!!!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  2. Sharon

    CNN--You have fallen to a new low with your attack on Billy Graham. Is that the best you've got???

    October 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Your Lord

      Billy Graham is the leader of a cult.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • ;p;

      Is it something that actually happened??

      October 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  3. Zarzoor

    left nut's head about to explode, just about, now!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  4. Henry

    If Romney loses it will be back up in a week.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  5. geoff

    Goodness, there's a lot of hate from the left. Why must he be a hypocrite, when he could just be opening his mind a bit? What about ex-smokers or reformed racists for that matter? Are they also hypocrites?

    It's not Graham's job to define what a cult is. His job is to preach the gospel. And he's good at it. He should stick to that. The fact that it took Romney staring him in the face to make that happen is not particularly shocking.

    In the end, it's one group of people on this planet dropping some of it's animosity towards another. All good. Better than many of these messages.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • sjajr

      What is the left? Left of what? Why is it people use abstracts like liberal and the left?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  6. Bob

    Billy boy needs to shut his yap, we've had about enough of that old man.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  7. ray

    i keep saying everyday these right wingers will do any and everything to get the blackman out the white house. now imagine these people on the right calls themselves christians, lies and more to come.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  8. DAVE H

    What a scary picture. These old,white devils having a good old racist circle jerk for Jesus. Sick!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  9. reasonablebe

    they made a pact with someone in a powerful political spot. that's my opinion.

    people don't change their beliefs overnight or months, and usually, not even over years on things that have to do with religious held beliefs and basics.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  10. MaryM

    'ol Billy Graham and son, big fail. Money can even buy off the Christians. Very sad indeed

    October 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  11. hudsony

    Mormon's do not hold to the basic truths of historical Christianity. Jesus has always been God, he did not become a god by following the teachings of the Mormons, who believe God looks upon all denominations other than Mormons as an abomination. Jesus is eternally God, not the brother of Lucifer. Mary was a virgin who conceived through the Holy Spirit not through a physical act with the Mormon god, who was once a man and became a god. The Mormon teaching that they to will become gods is not a christian teaching, but rather the teachings of a demented fool who lived in upstate New York in the 1800s who said an angel showed him where to dig up some buried golden tablets that are now nowhere to be found, because they never existed. Joseph Smith was a man who dabbled in the occult and decided to start a cult just like L. Ron Hubbard started Scientology just in a different century. What happened to Billy Graham and his son I do not know, but that does not change the false teachings of the Mormons. Just because they mix in a little truth with a whole lot of error and use Christian phrases which mean something entirely different than what Christians believe them to mean, they are no less false teachings. That said, it doesn't mean Christians can't vote for Mitt, just don't say he's a Christian and Mormons are Christians, because that is not the case.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Troglodytes Entertaining All

      More boring fairy tales... Isn't it time for you to grow up???

      October 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Tom Hartman

      Intelligent and well informed reply. Absolutely right on.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • csnord

      Jesus is a character in a popular work of fiction. Imaginary sky fairies have no place in rational discussion. The fact is that Mormonism does not have a corner on the cult market - all religious denominations are cults.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  12. ProclaimTruth

    How Hilarious that a Very Prominent Protestant Minister would ally himself with a follower of False Doctrine. Just because you claim Jesus in your doctrine, does not make you a SOUND and RIGHT Follower. The absolute Deity of God the Father IN Christ Jesus was the biggest obstacle for the people in Judaea when Christ was here. That He and the Father are ONE...Not just the son of God, But the Divine Spirit of the Almighty God Lives IN christ Jesus, and in fact, The Name Of Jesus Christ Is like saying you have taken Over the 50% share of your Dad's Company and TOTALLY represent HIM.
    Your Hatred For The Man with the Skin Color Is GREATER than your Love for Christ Jesus...It IS ABSOLUTELY about Race NOT about policy!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • csnord

      So ... vote for Obama because he's Black in order to prove you are not a racist? I think it is back to school for you.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  13. Ryan

    How much money did it take from Mitt for them to do this?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  14. Jan

    Isn't this the pot calling the kettle black??

    October 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  15. Troglodytes Entertaining All

    Instead of removing the part about Mormonism being a cult, Graham should have added something about Christianity being a cult.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Tom Hartman

      Since physics teaches that nothing can cause itself, we could just wait here until science can figure out how the universe caused itself lol. You guys kill me. Don't you realize that there are steeper odds against everything we know happening by a perfect accident than a creator? Think about it....

      October 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • csnord

      Hey Tom! Wrong, but thank you for playing. The fact is that science never said anything about the universe coming into existence from nothing. You need to get educated, and not from fairy tale books like the Bible.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • SFtraveler

      Love this comment. So true.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  16. steve-o

    All religions are cults.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • scairp

      I thought that way too for a long time, but a cult is something that lures you in and makes it almost impossible to get out, cuts you off from all. Every christian church, which is my only experience with religion, you can come and go as you please. No one took you into a room trying to browbeat you into staying or anything like that. I know there are cults that call themselves christians, but religion is really not what they are into, it's control,and often money too. I do understand that there are deep consequences if an LDS member resigns or just stops going to their temple, whatever they call it. They are often cut off from family, shunned if you will, they could lose their jobs or business connections, so by my definition, that is cult behaviour. So Billy Graham had it right the first time, and just because he has been convinced, at age 93+ years, that black man Obama is really a Muslim he will support the white cult candidate over the one who proclaims himself a christian and goes to church. I'm very confused.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  17. Bob

    You know Jesus was the first guy who kicked the money lenders out of the temple. He was very anti-Wall Street. If he were alive today he'd be a member of the OWS movement instead of the Tea Party. Imagine Romney telling Jesus "Your Socialist ways of helping the sick and poor will bankrupt this country!".

    October 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • steve-o

      Jesus also preached love the neighbor as thyself-how many teapartiers feel that way??one or two?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Romney would be right though.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  18. well there you go

    Well there you go... Jesus has spoken.. Mormonism is no longer a cult. I bet Jesus is happy, because they gave him cookies and milk before he made his proclamation.. now we all hope he remembers who he had cookies with tomorrow and what he said, but as for today.. the living Jesus, Billy Graham has spoken. LOL

    October 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  19. Nevada Swing State

    Wow, that's the lead story on CNN.com. That's some hard-hitting journalism there, CNN. How about reporting on a real story, like the fact that Pres. Obama is letting his underlings take the fall for his own failures in Libya.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • charlotte

      Oh, so now State Department decisions based on a GOP inadequate budget are entirely the fault of the White House, while the CEO for Bain Capital gets to continue to pretend he had no culpability for the evil that his company was wreaking. I see. Maybe you need a remedial course in reading comprehension, poopsie-pot.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Nevada etc

      the real story here is that Franklin Graham has taken over the family business. Billy backs a mormon!

      Jerry Falwell gets revenge for Billy refusing to join the Moral Majority in 1979 – facilitated by Mark DeMoss the evangelical outreach ambassador for Romney and the PR guy for Franklin Graham for 21 years.

      It makes you wonder if Billy even remembers that it happened.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  20. God

    LOL Mormonism is a cult, unlike all the other brands of Christianity and religion everywhere. ROFL

    October 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Alex

      And how do you define a cult Mr. God. Compliments on the name, I had forgotten that you can change your name even if you suffer from megalomania.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:44 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.