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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. BD70

    Nice house Billy Graham has...all from donations. Romney can relate I bet.

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

      Mr. Romney does NOT get paid for or recieve money from his church. He donates his time as all other members of the LDS Church do.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  2. jed

    Shame, shame, shame. For years Evengelicals have railed against Mormonism as a cult. I attended a fundamentalist Bible college and year after year Mormonism was held in regard as two steps above devil worship. Now all of a sudden it's ok? These are the same people that railed on the president along with the other far right pundits about the president's association with Rev Wright but not a word about this cult that excluded blacks from its ranks up until the late 70's. Only after threat of revocation of their tax status did the great leader decide that blacks were people too and allowed them to attend services. The latest in the Religious Right is a man's religion does not preclude his or her ability to govern. Every so called candidate has had to go before them and pass a litmous test and now their hypocrasy is in full view now that Mormonism has been removed from their terror watch list.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Abinadi

      I think he just realized that calling mormonism a cult and nonchristian is just a bunch of baloney.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • gingerpeach

      People talk about the LDS Church when they know nothing about it . It is NOT a cult. And so some are just now understanding the church. We belive in God, the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. And that forgivenss is through the Son only.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  3. Steve S

    "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

    The Rev. Graham has NO love for Mormonism.
    But he has even LESS love, for the black liberal in the WH.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Lewy

      Graham has love for no one save for himself.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • david shoup

      Willard promised Billy G, Jesus will return if I win the White Temple...errr ..House

      October 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  4. JLM

    I guess money can buy religious beliefs. Now isn't the time to be selling your soul Reverend...

    October 16, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  5. Odyssey

    Put in simple words..RELIGION IS POLITICS! I used to believe so much in christianity growing up in Africa but coming to the USA opened my eyes. Its all a WHITE MAN'S conspiracy to hijack the world.I still believe in Jesus and the holy spirit but NO to churchism!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  6. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    omg. Someone throw a pile of dirt on top of that corpse before it starts to stink

    October 16, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  7. Wodewick

    I was raised in a fundamentalist home and was taught at an early age about the dangers of cults. Billy Graham supports a cultist over a christian president – wow! Franklin has been busy painting Obama as "not one of us". Now they embrace a guy who believes a whole lot of nutty stuff like the white salamander story and fulfills a Mormon prophecy if elected. I don't think any of them (Romney or the Grahams) have any convictions. I used to respect Graham – no more.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  8. Allan

    You guys aren't getting it. Graham appears to be supporting Romney not because he agrees with Romney's religion, but because he agrees with Romney's policies. What can't some of you understand that? Unless of course, Americans don't pick a President for their policies?

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

      How does agreeing with Romney's politics change his view of the Mormon church?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • BubbaPub

      Maybe it was because of the check Romney made out to them.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Up for a thought?

      Especially as he has railed against them for so long? Hmm Allan? Has the sound of hypocrisy not fallen on your ears?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • lordnimrond

      That's d u m b Allan, if it were just policies being discussed, then Billy would have had no reason to change the religious definition of "cult" as far as the status of Mormonism goes.... None whatsoever... And yet,...he did... Romney is attempting to have Billy use his RELIGIOUS status with his own disciples to get votes...

      It's grotesque!

      October 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • rjg

      money and donations buy anything

      October 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  9. Solitairedog

    Any group that teaches a doctrine other than Christianity is a cult? Hmmm. That would include Jews. Buddhists and Hindus and Moslems and even atheists.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  10. Carol

    Romans 5:5, says; "Hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to you". Do the Mormons have the Holy spirit, given to us by Christ when he died on the cross? Do they acknowledge his gift to man? Does anyone know?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Abinadi

      1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. (Pearl of Great Price, Articles of Faith, Articles of Faith 1)

      4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Pearl of Great Price, Articles of Faith, Articles of Faith 1)

      Does that answer your question. I am a real Mormon and will be happy to answer any questions or you can go to mormon.org and talk one on one with a member.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • lordnimrond

      Who cares? No one "knows" anyting when it comes to fairy-tales.... It's ALL made up horse puckey...

      October 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • dirtyrocket

      Are you kidding? LDS.org

      October 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  11. BOb the Prairie Dog

    NO ONE knows what happens when we die, and ANYONE claiming such knowledge is a liar who probably wants your money... or in this case, your vote.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • brown

      Whatever happens after our earthly life must be good ... nobody has ever come back! :)

      October 16, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • lroy

      We know some of the people in heaven because they've performed miracles and have become canonized saints (one in particular is coming up real soon!). We do not know, however, who-if anyone-is in hell.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • aldo

      I had the same dilemma until I read the Bible. It is very clear in the New Testament

      October 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Solitairedog

      They get around the need for a shred of proof by pulling out the word "faith." You just have to believe. Why? That's crazy like human sacrifice is crazy.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Abinadi

      14 All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
      15 I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand.
      16 They were as sembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death.
      17 Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fulness of joy.
      18 While this vast multi tude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful;
      19 And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance.
      20 But unto the wicked he did not go, and among the ungodly and the unrepentant who had defiled themselves while in the flesh, his voice was not raised;
      21 Neither did the rebellious who rejected the testimonies and the warnings of the ancient prophets behold his presence, nor look upon his face.
      22 Where these were, darkness reigned, but among the righteous there was peace; (Doctrine and Covenants, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 138)

      October 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  12. tony

    Guess who else's 2012 taxes we won't see now. And an illegal l bill in congress payback later.

    Obscene wealth always wants corruption to be legal. That's the road to power.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  13. No Theocracy for USA

    So Mitt talked Billy Graham into a flip-flop. LOL. I guess that makes god a flip-flopper, now doesn't it? The Rethuglicans will stoop to any level. I've got news for Mittens and "Billy god Gruff", all religions are cults based on supe rsti tion and mythology.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • One one

      God IS a flip flopper:

      "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life."

      "Yahweh said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the surface of the ground; man, along with animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them." Gen 6:7

      October 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  14. Jeff

    Disappointing Mr. Graham

    October 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  15. ga.democrat

    Apparently politics trump beliefs for the Graham's. While I should not be surprised, I am disappointed that they, like Romney, stand for nothing.

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

      The Grahams are pieces of garbage who have built an empire by exploiting the empty-headed masses.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  16. Geo

    Just shows that religion = politics. Maybe if Romney had met with Jesus, the Bible would have been revised.

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

      Thanks to the early Pope Emperors, it already has been.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  17. BoyamidumbTed

    The American Taliban are temporarily joining forces. Watch out America, they will be cruel and oppressive.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  18. wjeri

    By definition. A cult could be any religion.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  19. TruthOrLies?

    LOL @ one cult calling out another cult. Hilarious. But Mormonism is definately wacky. Hard to believe anyone would take an occultist and con artist like Joseph Smith seriously.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  20. FrayedJeff

    I was born into the Mormon religion, I'm an Atheist now. And America is a joke waiting for a punch line.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Mr Whistler

      God, Buddha, Allah and whatever the hell be with you buddy!
      Science rules, Atheists!

      October 16, 2012 at 6:50 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.