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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. xuaerdub

    Upsetting. I have taught Sunday School for 25 years and used your reference material. No longer will your name be mentioned. You have demonstrated your allegiance to your Party OVER your God. How much more of your "truth" will be changed for the sake of political expediency. My Bible talks about those who let their religeous conviction play second fiddle to their politics. Were they called Scribes, Pharasees, Sanhedren? Shame on ya Billy. And double shame on that boy of yours. What did this cost? Thirty pieces of silver?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • juny1958

      we do not know what is in Romney's heart or what he said to Graham. However, I refuse to believe that at 94 years old, Billy Graham has sold his soul to Mitt's campaign.....Over the years there has not been a breath of scandal about the man. Now we are supposed to believe he sold out? Give the man credit for a life well-lived

      October 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • xuaerdub

      Does not history pretty much label him a republican hack?

      October 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  2. lou50

    well he had to clean it up or support the anti christ!

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

    My bet is on Romney making a considerable donation (charitable on his taxes) to Graham. "Hey Billy, I heard you think I'm in a cult?" "How much is this going to cost me?"

    October 16, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • CaliforniaAC

      Sad, but true: everything is for sale, but it depends on how much is offered. Mormons have a website for question, but they only answer what promotes them. The Christian bible has over 300 prophesies about the coming of Jesus, ZERO about Joseph Smith, the mormon "prophet" from GOD who founded the Mormon Church. If it is not foretold by God it AIN'T TRUE.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 16, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Troglodytes Entertaining All

      Yes. It makes them worse.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Larry McDonald

      Can it change my tires. It's time for snow?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Up for a thought?

      Same poster. Same post. Every time. Someone is losing at life.

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

      Not true. I continually pray for you to stop trolling, but it never happens.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • NickZadick

      @Mavent HAHA good one! So...it looks like you Americans are going to elect Mr coocoo for cocopuffs!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • lordnimrond

      Does prayer change tires? Does Prayer change s.e.x.e.s? Does prayer change diapers? Does prayer change stations? Does prayer change pants? Does prayer change its own mind? Does prayer change batteries? Does prayer change socks? Does prayer change underwear?

      October 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  5. Larry McDonald

    Maybe Reverend Graham visited Jesus birthplace, in Nebraska and had an Epiphany?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  6. Geo

    It's interesting that Christians sometime cite their numbers (2 or 3 billion when they want to be big) as evidence that they are not delusional (2 or 3 billion delusional people?! Really?!). But they have no problem suggesting that Muslims are deluded when there are as many if not more of them. Or that millions of Mormons are mistaken. Those other guys are apparently too easily duped, but Christians are just too smart for that to happen to them.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • NickZadick

      Since all religions are fairy tales... it seems the % of people that got it right is very low... but we don't mind! we find you ....fascinating!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  7. rare_earth

    god damn, religion.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  8. Guest

    Why did he remove it? It WAS the truth. The LDS "church" IS a cult!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  9. Ed

    I bet Joeseph Smith would be amazed at how far his con has run.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Duh

      But will L. Ron Hubbard's mob overtake them?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  10. tefera

    The truth cooked!How dare Bill G. doesn't want to answer Piers Morgan Q? Street Q should be answered street answer.No compromise with the truth.Mr.BG got a chance to preach the Gospel infront of Piers Morgan shaw, but he cooked the truth about Mormonism.It is very sad.I respect the man of God but it remains in my mind that how he ashamed of the truth about Mormonism?

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

      ENGLISH!! do you speak it?

      October 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  11. Seve

    I love how removing the page about cults was spun as being to prevent it from becoming political when in fact it was likely a political favor to Romney and a way to show the followers that Romney is OK to vote for.

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

      If your religion doesn't agree with mine, then yours is a weird and scary "CULT"
      Please people, can't we all just get along?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  12. David

    I hope Billy Graham finds out how his representation of Jesus Christ has gone down the toilet by giving his support to Romney this way. It is such a sad situation in our country now. I grew up thinking the world of Billy Graham. Now, I can't remember why I ever liked him. He erased all that in one day. May God forgive you, Billy Graham. He will. But you have damaged His reputation.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  13. Palpatine

    are you threatening me master jedi?

    October 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  14. ib42

    One thief to another.....welcome back!
    Bloody crooks.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  15. Carol

    The Billy Graham of the fifties would never have welcomed Mitt Romney, but of course he was a lot poorer then.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  16. Ryan in Miami

    I agree with the move to remove hate speech from Billy Graham's website. However, this just highlights the HYPOCRISY of the evangelicals. They spouted out hate speech against Mormons until it became politically expedient to support the Republican nominee. Evangelicals hate President Obama more than they love Jesus – Jon Stewart.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • SurRy

      The evangelical "christans" hate rMoney. Heck, they wanted anyone but rMoney. They were even going to take serial adulterer and liar Newt Gingrich over rMoney. Hilarious watching all these Republicans trying not to throw up while they endorse rMoney.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • juny1958

      most believers I know try very hard to examine their hearts for hypocrisy before speaking out.....however, for those who wish to demonize believers because of that very belief, we know we will never be able to persuade you of the truth of Jesus Christ......you will just have to go on living in your unbelief, and one millisecond after death, YOU can explain to the Judge of the Universe why you differed with HIM, just dont expect much sympathy.....there is enough evidence all around us to believe in Christ......He will hold you accountable for that truth

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

      Oh,..GOOD juny1958,....if you "know we will never be able to persuade you of the truth of Jesus Christ",....then please, PLEASE stop trying to.... We're all very tired of your rambling fairytale sentiments...

      October 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Timber72

      "Hate speech"...? So, wait...it's "hate speech" to acknowledge that someone else's theological philosophy is in opposition to your own...? Really...?

      "Your beliefs are contrary to mine." = "Hate speech"...?

      There was a time when people would have been happy to be called a cult, as that's what they were, and how they identified themselves. Now that's "hate speech"...?

      How very, very odd.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  17. genna

    This is sooo pathetic. This is exactly like how Nazi Germany hid all of its anti semitism when they hosted the 1936 Olympics. After the Olympics, they showed their evil faces again

    sick sick sick

    October 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Ryan in Miami

      I agree, this oozes with hypocrisy

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

      These guys are worthless bunch of nothing, actually giving "God" the creator a bad name ALL for their senseless profits.... they think they can change and no one notices....

      Freud describes in his psychology of masses Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.

      But a crook is always a crook, and history has proved it. Now these guys are hoping for the masses to believe in this nonsense at the last hour so the vote can be cast........

      in 21st century I feel so sorry for all of us.....

      October 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  18. Jan in Wa.

    Billy Boy has just exposed himself for the phoney he has always been. No one should be surprised by this.

    October 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  19. 4pease

    So old Billy's convictions change with the wind, just like Romney!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  20. Douglas Gwinn

    I just now checked billygraham dot org and I was able to find one (only one) reference to Mormons, not a flattering one. It was from an article in Decision magazine from May 1, 2008. The part about Mormons goes like this: "We heard from Christians who were once Mormons, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, agnostics, witches, Buddhists, Unitarians, New Agers, Muslims, Satanists and non-Messianic Jews." You know, Billy Graham tried but was never able to come to Utah to hold one of his evangelistic crusades or missions. The reason was that the Christians in Utah could not cooperate sufficiently to organize and carry out such an event. Billy definitely does not consider Mormons as within the fold of the orthodox Christian faith. However, his goal is not to beat people over the head for what they presently believe but rather point them to Jesus through the preaching and teaching of the Bible. I would that I could be as guilty as Billy of holding forth the truth!

    October 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Douglas,

      I bet there used to be more.

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

      There were more. The site has been scrubbed.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • NickZadick

      They are, and you are...debating which fairy tale makes more sense... what century is this?

      October 16, 2012 at 7:09 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.