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.
In a cult there is a guy at the top who knows it's all baloney.
In a religion that guy is dead.
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?
You mean like the Southern Baptist Convention?
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.
Next week the moonies won't be considered a cult on Graham's website. Talk about pandering to the devil....
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.
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.
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.
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...
If there was an ability to "thumbs up" your comment, I would!
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.
Billy Graham's senility has taken over!
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.
So all charitable people are Christian?
Or are you just claiming that only Christians can be charitable?
I want to hear Mitt Romney's stance on plural marriages.
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.
"By their fruits ye shall know them," as Christ said. Yours is the only non-hate-filled response I've read here. Thank you.
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!
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.
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.
Yes, you do sound a lot like the Taliban, and it is scary.
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.
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.
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....
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.
hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, absurd.
This comment reminds me that now would be a good time to order fruitcake for the holidays :)
Bottom line.. all religions are cult. Some are just mainstream cults.
There IS a difference between religions and cults. Read up on it, because you are WRONG!
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.
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.
Are we not all brothers and sisters ?
Oh great willie.. now you are saying we practice incest
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.
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.
If Pope Billy says he's okay, then he's okay.
If that doesn't prove the manipulation and dishonesty among these religious.
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.
if it's a religion, it's a cult. What's the big deal. Mormon/christian/muslim,, all the same
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.