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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. Alex

    Hilarious. CNN will do anything to discredit and stain Mitt Romney's campaign.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Huh?

      Mitt Romney and his associates like Mark DeMoss are the ones who did this. Why is reporting the truth wrong?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • ;p;

      So which part of the article is not true, then?

      October 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  2. bookgirl

    Wow, I just lost all respect for the old man. May he go to his own burning hell. Hypocrite be thy name. Or, maybe he's just senile.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @bookgirl,

      don't blame the old man. This is Franklin's and Mark DeMoss' doing.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  3. amlcpamaine

    Believe me, after having had to collaborate with Romney and Bain when they took control of my employer, and having worked directly for his Bain partner who was 'planted' to engineer the company sale, I got a very close view of Romney. He has no soul. He treats business deals as a game – try and make more money than someone else and if someone gets ripped off, it's their own fault for being ethical and naive. Romney has spent his ENTIRE LIFE getting everything he ever wanted, mostly by paying people to bend over for his every wish. Why should Billy Graham be any different? Billy's old but Billy will bend over for money.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  4. Dasea

    i am proud of my body because god made me with something to wave around like a hammer. I can't say I havent wondered when my knees are together mainly because i look hot and i am lonely, but really I am proud of my replican democrat plllllbblbltbtbtbtbtbbt

    October 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  5. Jean

    I'm truly disgusted that a political group should try to leverage and corner Billy Graham into trying to "build a bridge" knowing that Mr. Graham has always been a man of peace first. That's really low, Mitt. Even for you.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Cheryl DeGirolamo

      I am disappointed that something the REAL Rev. Grahm ( Billy) believed strongly in for years all of a sudden gets pulled due to what? Franklin? Billy looks pitiful :(( and not too sure he is able to make a clear choice on his own, I understand Franklin because of the gay marriage and abortion issues. WHAT about the Mormon faiths beliefs? God is flesh and bone and multiple heavens the whole major differences mattered all the while till now? kinda off i think

      October 16, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  6. Moderate

    What a surprise, but not too much of a surprise. Senility is setting in here.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  7. One one

    The beauty of religion is that, because it is all made up, it can be whatever you want it to be.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  8. upwardquest

    Romney is a Charlatan who will say and do anything to try to get elected. He cannot be trusted. Although they vehemently deny it, the Mormon church is fully behind Romney. This is part of their plot to take over the USA and eventually the world and make everybody Mormons.

    President Obama for real. He helped me and thousands of other people keep our homes, plus doing a lot more for everyone. I voted for him in 2008 and again in 2012. Hopefully, you will vote for Obama, too. He deserves four more years!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • soundnfury

      What about Harry Reid? He too is a Mormon in full fellowship, and I haven't seen him back Romney. The Church takes no stance on political ideology.

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

      You are an intolerant person who has absolutely no understanding of who Mormons are or what they believe. Go to lds.org if you want to really find out about who we are. You could also try mormon.org. And God bless Mitt Romney for he will get us out of the mess Obama has mired us in.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Geo

      @tbf: If Mitt will admit that the Republicans under GW Bush entrenched us deeply into the mire from which Obama is struggling to free us, and that he could do something different to free us faster, then I would consider voting for him. But arguing that President Obama hasn't done a good enough job cleaning up GW's deregulated economic blunder isn't good enough. It sounds like Mitt wants to repeat the GW years. After all, the super rich weren't hurt by it - they instead found opportunity to buy up more assets at bargain-basement prices.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  9. ray

    hi cnn dont like the truth so real honest readers can read?? what a bunch of racists works at cnn

    October 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  10. Dasea

    i want to ask romney is it boxers or magic underwear?

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

      No need to ask Mitt Romney. Plenty of others have answered that question for you http://www.wham1180.com/pages/boblonsberry.html?article=10037569

      October 16, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  11. HoliUnderwearBatman

    If Graham thought it'd make him more money or gain him political influence he say Scientology isn't a cult.

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

    Christians are so intent on turning America into some jacked up christian version of Iran, nothing but a dictatorship disguised as a theocracy, that they will even lie about the mormon cult. Both cults disgust me. Death to the blood god of the christians, muslims and jews.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      "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." This is the biggest load of B.S. that ever came out of the Billy Graham Crusade. After only one 30 minute meeting with Mitt Romney Billy Graham and Franklin Graham are now ready to purchase their own tickets to Kolob. I guess that "transformative message" refers to the fact that they transform the message whenever they need to do so to appeal to any particular cult.

      I never cease to be amazed at how "devout Christians" will change their beliefs at the drop of a hat anytime it is politically or financially expedient to do so. It is really hard to accept their definition of "truth" when that defintion changes so frequently. It would be like that commercial showing pro basketball in the future where the goal rises 15 or 20 feet after a player has already jumped to dunk the ball.

      Way to go, Billy Graham! Once again, you have proven that Christians just cannot be trusted or believed. But, most of us already knew that.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  13. Dasea

    just saw lady boys post srs and I could tell but it was like 99% the faces and the rest looks like a real republican

    October 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  14. SusieTX

    Wow! Romney met with Graham for 30 minutes and Graham has been born again! AMAZING!!! What I want to know is how much did Mitt pay him, and what kind of deals did he give to Graham to make this huge change in his life after 94 years on this earth? AMAZING!!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • well there you go

      Now Billy gets to be the "Jesus" of Mitts Planet... when they are both dead.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  15. Michael

    Well, Mormonism is still as much of a cult as any other religion. But, the bigger problem I have with Mormons and their beliefs is that Mormons believe ALL Christians are going to hell because they are non-Mormons, Jesus is the brother of Lucifer (look it up, it's what they believe), Women must remain pregnant through eternity after death, and Men become Gods who will own their own planet. Hmmmm.... Maybe Billy Graham should revisit his own beliefs before he simply changes them because Mitt was 'nice' to him during a meeting.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • asdf21

      You obviously do not do your homework. Taking second hand info never works. Its almost as bad as the politicians. Mormons actually beleive anyone who acepts christ will go to heaven.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  16. GRS62

    Wow...I have completely lost what little respect I had for Graham. Sad that you can modify (abandon) your religious views based on political motives and money.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  17. bot1

    Here are the characteristics of a cult:
    • Small? The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) has 14 million members in 132 countries. In America, there are more Mormons than there are Presbyterians or Jews.
    • Excessive devotion? Mormons are devoted to the Savior, but in appropriate measure He would approve of.
    • Unethical techniques? Ask the pie-throwers to name one.
    • Control by isolation? Even if Mormons wanted to, this would be impossible with 14 million members in 28,000 congregations throughout the world.
    • Control by threats? Again, evidence? Mormon missionaries may be exuberant, but do not threaten.
    • Dependency on the group? The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is just the opposite. Mormons want members to be self-reliant and independent so they in turn can help others.
    • Powerful group pressure? Only if that’s the way the critics prefer to define love.
    • Strange? Guilty as charged. Mormons plead guilty to all the strange things that were done by Christians in New Testament times that were lost during the great falling away in the aptly named Dark Ages, among them temple worship, baptism by immersion by the father of the family, vicarious baptism for the dead, definition of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as separate but united in purpose, salvation requiring both grace and obedience to commandments, prophets and apostles, unpaid clergy, and continual revelation to guide His Church.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • GRS62

      Somebody drinks the kool-aid!

      October 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Scott

      Bible = historical accounts verified by archeology
      Book of Mormon = historical accounts contradicted by archeology

      Believe in the book of Mormon all you want, it is still a deviation from Christianity.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • locutus

      @bot1

      nice try, you mindless twit

      October 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  18. MaryM

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

    October 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  19. Don

    Thanks CNN. Knew I could count on you for another dirty hit piece against the your enemies.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • SAC

      If you think that CNN is an illegitimate source of information, why do you bother to read their articles and comment? Obviously you think your own "sources" are the only representation of truth.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • lordnimrond

      Ummm,....if you don't like the way CNN presents their news, why the heII do you even come here? Just a troll, I guess?

      Go be a deliberate d o u c h e somewhere else...

      October 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  20. Jason

    It has been well known that the Grahams and the Evangelical Church view Mormonism as a cult for a long time. It has been referred to time and time again. To say that this was a non political move is complete Malarkey! They are willing to silence their beliefs. These so called principaled famous preachers just dont want their followers to have a reason to vote for the other guy. Billy Grahm is willing to sacrifice his own religious beliefs for politics, not a very good Christian if you ask me. He should stick to his guns (no matter how obsurd, if that is how he and his church really feel) and lead his flock in church and leave them to their own elsewhere.

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

      @Jason,

      the Grahams you say? NO. Billy maybe, but not Franklin. Franklin is a wannabe Republican king-maker. This was all facilitated by former moral majority guy, Franklin's PR man for 21 years, and Romney's evangelical ambassador, Mark DeMoss.

      Jerry Falwell now has his revenge for Billy Graham not joining the American Taliban. Billy backed a Mormon and I bet he doesn't even remember it.

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

      Anything you can imagine is possible.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      A 33 year old score has been settled. Jerry Falwell has his revenge from beyond the grave.

      Let’s look at a time line:

      ..................1979
      Jerry Falwell founds Moral Majority:
      Billy Graham refused to join Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, saying: "I'm for morality, but morality goes beyond sex to human freedom and social justice. We as clergy know so very little to speak with authority on the Panama Canal or superiority of armaments. Evangelists cannot be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle in order to preach to all people, right and left. I haven't been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will be in the future."

      ..................1980
      Mark DeMoss enrolled at Liberty University, Falwell’s school, in 1980, the year after his father died of a heart attack. Falwell, a fundamentalist preacher, would become like a second father.

      DeMoss’s dad had been friends with Falwell – DeMoss says it’s unclear if the insurance marketing company his father founded, National Liberty Corp., helped give Liberty University its name – and Mark found work in Falwell’s office after graduation.

      ..................1980s
      By the time he was 23, DeMoss was serving as Falwell’s chief of staff and spokesman, helping his boss run a growing evangelical empire that included the Lynchburg, Virginia, university and a new organization Falwell had helped found: the Moral Majority.

      The organization aimed to bring evangelicals back into the political fold, after millions of them had spent decades sitting out elections, convinced that politics were a dirty, ungodly business.

      Falwell taught him how political organizing works, from the grassroots to the very top. He took him to meetings with President Ronald Reagan, whom the Moral Majority had helped elect, and President George H.W. Bush.

      ..................1991
      DeMoss founds the DeMoss Group, a Christian PR firm in Atlanta.

      The firm, took Falwell as its first client and quickly added business from big Christian groups like Chuck Colson’s Prison Ministries, Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse and Christian Crusade for Christ.

      More than 20 years later, those groups are still with DeMoss.

      ..................2006
      Mark DeMoss approaches Mitt Romney about running for President.

      ..................2007
      Jerry Falwell dies.

      ..................2008
      Mitt Romney runs in the Republican Primaries, losing to John McCain

      ..................2011
      DeMoss becomes a Senior Advisor to the Romney Campaign (and his evangelical ambassador)

      ..................2012
      May, 2012 – Romney delivers the commencement speech to graduates at Liberty U.

      September, 2012 – Romney delivers “I will not take God out of my heart, I will not take God out of the public square, and I will not take it out of the platform of my party,” stump speech at Liberty U.

      October, 2012 – Billy and Franklin Graham meet with Mitt Romney and erase references to cults (like Mormonism) on Billy Graham’s website.

      Jerry Falwell (Liberty U. / Moral Majority) … connects to … Mark DeMoss … connects to … Franklin Graham (Samaritan’s Purse) … connects to … Billy Graham (who refused to join the Moral Majority and always called Mormonism a cult)

      and Mark DeMoss … connects to … Mitt Romney

      Following the connections, Falwell gets his revenge and Billy backs a Mormon, but probably doesn’t remember it.

      Politics, as usual.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:41 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.