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.
I am amazed that the Christian Church is turning its back, just to win an election!!! 6 months ago this would not have been heard of. Now we are changing our core beliefs as a means to an end. May God have mercy on our souls.
romney = lesser of 2 religious evils
"Obama said he had begun to sense God beckoning him to submit to his will and dedicate himself to discovering truth. So one day he walked down the aisle at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago and affirmed his Christian faith. Remaining a member of the church for 20 years, Trinity, Obama said, is where he found Jesus Christ, where he and Michelle were married, and where his children were baptized."
Source: President Barack Obama By Mary Fairchild, About.com Guide
romney = the lighter of two skin tones, just say it
This is a evangelical version of an indulgence. Mitt, can you drop a few $$$ on our foundation and we'll hand you the evangelical vote. Protestants worship capitalism...nothing else.
"Democracy", care of the Koch brothers.
Christians telling other Christians that they're not Christians is funny.
Christians believe Jesus is the son of God who came to earth as man to die for our sins. They believe in the virgin birth and that Jesus is God's only son.
Mormons believe God has a bunch of wives and got one pregnant the old fashion way to make Jesus and then sent him down. They believe God had many children in this way and they're all just inhabiting people and/or waiting to be promoted to godhood.
Mormons believe that Christ is the son of God and humanity's savior. That's the definition of Christianity. Like it or leave it.
Christians are not polytheists. Mormons are.
Look it up.
This is unbelievable and so disappointing. I consider it another flip flop...this time a Graham flip flop...
might white of you jimmy. i look at this picture and i see the past. a past that is desperate to conserve itself. kinda crazy.
Mormonism is like the Christian version of Scientology.
Mormons are like Catholics and Jews: evangelicals believe they're going to hell, but they need them for their political agendas.
"Once the coin in the coffer rings...your soul from hell springs." Evangelicals stole that from the Catholics.
ALL slaves to State of Israel.
The first Mormon president is on the way. get ready guys!!
The Truth is: Mormons are A CULT. They belive that Jesus and Satan were spirit "brother" and were created. They donot belive in the Eternal Divinity of Jesus Christ. They donot belive in the Trinity. They also belive that the book of Mormon is a holy book, equal to the bible. Remember Acts 22:19 "He who adds or subtracts from the scriptures, God will take away his part from the Tree of Life. They beileve that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Now if all these things they believe does not make you a Cult I don't know what does. I used to hold Billy Graham in high esteem, but he has sold out his beliefs for political expediency.
Actually all Christianity are nothing but fakes, frauds and cultists.
Where in the Bible is it indicated that Jesus was not created, is part of a Trinity or is equal to God?
I may add that they believe that the Christian Bible is corrupt, and one individual, Joseph Smith, has the "corrected" version; the Book of Mormon. That is basically the definition of a cult. Also they believe that salvation is "partially" through Jesus, that God used to be a man on another planet, and that there is more than one God. There are lots of differences between the denominations, but any of these beliefs would disqualify it as a form of Christianity, and make it more like a religion roughly based on Christianity.
CNN propagates the idea that Mormonism is a cult. They had an article about how "no Protestants" are on the Republican ticket. If Mormonism is not a kind of Protestantism, then what the heck is it? There are only three choices: Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. To say that Mormons are not Protestants makes them non-Christians and a cult.
It's most like Islam if you're really looking for an apt comparison.
Whether Mormonism is a cult or not, I don't care.
Neither Mormonism nor Jehovah's Witnesses can be legitimately considered Protestant, though I think it is fair to call them 'Christian'. To be Protestant you have to follow the traditions of the Protestant reformers – those who "protested" the Catholic church.
There are several groups that are neither Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, yet remain Christian.
Growing up as a kid I was always a big fan of Billy Graham and I loved him dearly because when I was a child my mom was sick and he prayed with her and she recovered and was healed. In 1995 I was able to meet Billy Graham for the first time in my life at the Brendan Byrne Arena in NJ. Regardless of politics, I still love Billy Graham and always will. When I think of him and what he did for my mom I can't help but cry tears of joy. But how Reverend Graham can support a Mormon who is a member of a cult and snub the President who is a Christian is beyond me. But as I said, regardless of politics I will always love the Revrend Bill Graham.
Father and Son believe that President Obama is a Muslim.
I agree with Jack, Neither one of the Grahams believe that the President is a Christian. It goes to show that you have believe for yourself. At the end of life's journey, I am glad that I will not have to look at them (Grahams) for salvation.
Still love the Reverend Graham! He's a good man and he has done good all his life! And I love all those crusades of the 70's and 80's. Brings back alot of good memories.
The reference will reappear as soon as the election is over, either right away when Romney loses, or a little later on when conservatives realize yet again that their politicians have no interest in actually overturning Abortion Rights, or taking a strong stand against gay marriage. Hot-button issues like this are way too useful to the GOP candidates for them ever to actually "solve" them the way they keep promising to. They also know that their base will easily forget that none of the presidents they elected actually fulfilled these promises.
Oh, please I was a Mormon once. They really are cultists. They just happen to be a legal one.
Maybe Mitt will get Billy a pair of special underwear. They will suit up and frolic together dreaming of hundreds of virgins awaiting them on Kolob.
This puts the only person in religion that I had any respect for right up there with the the Pope and his band of merry men. Whether I believed what Graham said or not was a separate issue; I just saw him as one who would not degrade his personal beliefs for political posturing. So, so, so, sad. It would have been better for him to pass from this world with his dignity intact and let the changes be attributed to his offspring.
Yep... AND he was worried that "this Mormon kid's looking better in the polls... better hedge my bets so *I* still get my annual invite to the White House"!
btw... OBAMA 2012
Given the choice between God and Politics, right-wingers will choose politics every time. I guess ol' Billy was less worried about a Cultist being in the White House than he was about a colored boy living there.
How much did it cost Romney? It's a tax write off.
All the brainwashed cults have to stick together.
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.