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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. JD

    In a cult there is a guy at the top who knows it's all baloney.

    In a religion that guy is dead.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  2. Frank

    Say, I was wondering what year did that non-cult allows blacks into the priesthood? Was it a long time ago or might it have been pretty recently?

    October 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Primewonk

      You mean like the Southern Baptist Convention?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Netscanr

      1978. The top old guy they call the prophet had a vision. COINCIDENTALLY, the NAACP was preparing to file a discrimination lawsuit against the lds church the very next day. In the NBC show about the LDS church, their 'historian' as they call him, had no real idea why blacks were suddenly allowed to join the priesthood.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  3. Jack

    Next week the moonies won't be considered a cult on Graham's website. Talk about pandering to the devil....

    October 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  4. Aetheist Brit

    Did good old Billy have a revelation like the Mormons occasionally do to suit their needs? Wow the convenience of timing – no co-incidence is there that there is some election looming. Hypocrites and delusional the lot of them.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      They always have them just like hindu sanatans, filthy goon's while they are high on hem, the Cannabis, choice drug to have revaluation's of hinduism, absurdity.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  5. Danimal

    Billy Graham is just another lying flip-flopping racist who will do anything to force his politics on the country. I'm glad his expiration date is almost up.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  6. The Dude

    Bravo Graham! And while we're at it, and you and yours are endorsing politicians and legislation, how's about your churches start paying taxes? You know, since churches are becoming PACs and all...

    October 16, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • I Know Everything

      If there was an ability to "thumbs up" your comment, I would!

      October 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  7. Jake

    Oh please, enough of sticking religion where it doesn't belong. What's next..religious based government like the Taliban. WE are no different then they are...religion and government together.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  8. GetReal

    Billy Graham's senility has taken over!

    October 16, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  9. Jared

    The Mormon church has some great people. I have known many of them and they are some of the most down to earth and caring people I know. When I went through cancer I had many Mormons who took care of me and helped me in wonderful ways. Anyone who says they aren't a Christian church is just uninformed.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • ME II

      So all charitable people are Christian?
      Or are you just claiming that only Christians can be charitable?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Stephen

      I want to hear Mitt Romney's stance on plural marriages.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Karff

      You are reading more into the comment that what was written. It sounds as though he is stating that the Mormon religion is Christian. Nothing more.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Amelia

      "By their fruits ye shall know them," as Christ said. Yours is the only non-hate-filled response I've read here. Thank you.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Guest

      Don't know where my comment went. NO, Mormons are NOT Christian's. Do some research and you'll find out why! They aren't bad people, but they are NOT Christians!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  10. WV Gleeman

    I call BS Mr Graham. Swear on a bible you believe the Mormon faith to be a true Christian religeon and that those people will go to heaven. NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

    The truth is that the religeous right will band together and go against everything they belive in to retain power over the people.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  11. Flower doe

    obama 2012

    October 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  12. Jake

    The were a cult forever until Mitt ran for President. It's disgusting that these so called religious leaders are nothing but a bunch of phonies. Whatever respect I had for the Graham folks just went out the window. This isn't about religion, it's about a leader of a country.

    The more you look, the more we look like the Taliban. Soon it will cross the line like it does in the Middle East. Maybe not stoning, but denial of services, and maybe even burning at the stake. We did that kind of stuff many years ago, it's not like it never happened before.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • army61w

      Yes, you do sound a lot like the Taliban, and it is scary.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  13. Scholar

    Jesus had a word describing those who shout their piety on street corners like so many in organized churches tend to do daily. Find that word in Matthew 6:6.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  14. Nsikan

    I think instead of deriding Billy Graham, faith based voters that are for the president should do more than financial contribution. They should pray for the president and lift him up to God. Graham is human and subject to change like he just did but some of us know better. I see no reason why penticostal christians and other faith based voters should not rally around the president. I am a faith based voter and I do fast, pray and support our president.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Gwenie

      Nsikan..You have the best post on this blog..I totally agree wiith you...I am a Christian and I was very surprised and disappointed at Dr. Graham as I had a lot of respect for him, but as you said, he is human and subject to error...People can try and twist it any way they want, but Mormonism is a cult..And the fact that President Obama is a Christian and the evangelical are throwing him under the bus just floors me...I too also pray for the president every night and I will continue to pray and even fast for him until the election because to me he displays the qualities for "caring for the least of these"..Jesus has a special place in his heart for the poor, widows,and orphans and the whole idea that republicans want to take away any safety nets for these people doen't sound very Christian to me....They are truly a bunch of Pharisees....

      October 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  15. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    Human my mother, a domi'natrix, thanks to my Haramee (bast ard) Taliban father, pim~p, never allowed me to go to school, instead, sent me to Aghori Mullahs, dead body eaters, taught me a book of Mithra Quaran ism, denier of truth absolute, Satan Allah ism.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, absurd.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Cathar

      This comment reminds me that now would be a good time to order fruitcake for the holidays :)

      October 23, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  16. Realist

    Bottom line.. all religions are cult. Some are just mainstream cults.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Guest

      There IS a difference between religions and cults. Read up on it, because you are WRONG!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  17. awasis

    Do you know that Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are BROTHERS? Do you know that Mormons believe that God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are 3 different gods? Did you know that Mormons believe that Jehovah comes from the planet Kolob. Did you know the Mormons believe that you can become a God like Jehovah? Doesn't sound like Christianity to me.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • biobraine

      Who cares? Mormon beliefs are no stranger than other religions. I don't judge how good of a job someone can do based upon whatever belief system they were indoctrinated into.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Willie12345

      Are we not all brothers and sisters ?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Realist

      Oh great willie.. now you are saying we practice incest

      October 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • dotap

      I have been wondering when these issues might come up and puzzled that the religious right has been so silent on this. Thank you for raising them.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • John

      What you have said is a stretch from the truth. What mormons believe in is that everyone before life was brother and sister, and god was our father. Just like today we are all sons and daughters of the earth. So by saying Jesus and Satan were brothers just means that Mormons believe EVERYONE are children to God, making Jesus, Satan, you and me, all children of god. And by the way the definition of Christianity is to believe in Christ and the New testament, Mormons believe in both of them......so they sound pretty christian to me.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  18. AceGirlsHusband

    If Pope Billy says he's okay, then he's okay.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  19. Realist

    If that doesn't prove the manipulation and dishonesty among these religious.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  20. Eric

    This guy is retarded, his defintion of a cult is not even close to accurate and nothing like what the actual description reads. This guy is abasically saying if you don't believe what I believe then you are a cult. Actual cults have to be governed by a primary figure for example to actually be a cult. So to be honest the Pope fits this description and Catholics are far more of a cult than Jehovah's Witnesses for example. The witnesses are honestly the only religion that actually does what the bible says. The bible says "faith without works is dead", so his definition is DEAD wrong on so many levels, lol.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Realist

      if it's a religion, it's a cult. What's the big deal. Mormon/christian/muslim,, all the same

      October 16, 2012 at 4:05 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.