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.
Power hungry mutts... saying and doing anything to hold on to the precious. I am grossed out by all these guys.
Romney believes that one day he will himself be a god of his own planet. That is what is taught in Mormon Temples. To be a god? I would definitely classify this as a cult. If not, what else?
We are taught everyone can be more like God. There is only one God.
Franklin must be responsible for this – no way Billy Graham would get political. He loves everybody and would never choose sides. Franklin will never be his father for sure!
Not political? He slips into the white house every chance he gets... at least he's not Pat Robertson who used his international evangelism to trade in Blood Diamonds. All these guys are gross.
Mormons are a CULT. C'mon folks. The originator of the religion is from upstate New York and he and the other major figurehead of the religion – Brigham Young – both promoted marriage (on earth and in heaven) with multiple wives and have a "prophecy" every time they want to make a change to the original doctrine. And women are basically baby-making slaves. CULT.
Holy Cow . . . how many wives and concubines did the Prophets of the Bible have? And one more time,just for you, Polygomy ended over 150 years ago. Get over it. Check out LDS dot Org or Mormon dot Org for the truth.
"women are basically baby making slaves"...What in the world are you talking about??? I have never been taught that, nor has my wife. Apparently you know more about my religion than I do...or so you may think. According to your statement...my wife must be worthless, since we are unable to have kids....although, you don't want me to tell her that, because she has a mind of her own and she will give you more than her 2 cents worth.
Individual beliefs and/or spirituality are the only way to personally know the divine...
And guess what,...NONE of this,...NONE,...has any place in politics, in schools, in business practices, and law-making....
Thank you Jackysmama for telling it like it really is! I am so tired of ppl thinking and believing that Mormons are Christians! They are a Cult and Leeroy, get over yourself...yes, yes, I hear what you are saying with your forked tongue. You must be Mormon trying to convence others of the change. However, for those of us who live in the real world and around Mormans, see how they act and still do the say things and although they say they don't do these things...it's still amazing how you can still find them doing the very same things and it is still ok...and you really didn't see what you just saw! Wake up and smell the crap...Even Mormon's know they are a CULT!!!
How very convenient for Mitt. I wonder if the balance of Mr. Graham's beliefs are so easily disposed.
Here's a newsflash, Mr. Graham: It IS a cult. Just ask Mitt's god, "Elohim".
Seriously, though, I love seeing this kind of thing. It exposes just what a crock organized religion is.
Wow! A link to what a cult it but no link to what a Mormon is? Wow! Very telling!! Try LDS dawt com or Mormon dawt com
Ooops! I meant dawt org. LDS dawt org . . . or Mormon dawt org.
good for billy graham. and about his removing mormonism as a cult from his site, he finally woke up and got the 'real' definition. because, cnn followers certainly fit that category. frankly, everyone does for that matter, religious or not if they choose to follow any one thing or more with a passion. cult: 5a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work.
Or golden tablets given to Joseph Smith by an angel
I'm ashamed of Billy Graham. Wonder what it cost $$$$$ Mitt to pay him off?
I bet it didn't cost Mitt anything more than 30 minutes of his time with the old man.
Now, one of Mitt's SuperPACs funded by the Koch Brothers??? Franklin's next crusade is going to start off from a very strong, well-funded position.
Here is some video that will show you what mormons REALLY do: http://www.youtube.com/user/Mormon
The evangelical churches preached to me for many years that Mormonism was a cult, now today’s episode is, no, never mind we change our minds on that, once we take it off our website that erases everything we have told you for all these years . The evangelicals a Christian faith of cultural, expediency and convenience. These are the same people who want to cross oceans and go to other nations and cultures to tell them that their faith and religion is all wrong and they are on their way to hell.
As we read these comments we see the damage that Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham has done to the Christian community... The Word of God has warned us against teachers like Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham... As Paul wrote; "For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough".... This is why we must discern against Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham ... It is called church discipline they would do the same if some one was teaching falsely in there church... So Sad this is not the way to use the pulpit...
Mormons. See the REAL mormon church unrestrained: mormon.org
Flip floppers flip-flopping over cookies.
There ain't no cult in here. Ssshh, were talking to God.
I channel, Mitt listens. Then Mitt channels, and I listen. This way we have a full two way dialogue with the Lord.
As we read these comments we see the damage that Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham has done to the Christian community... The Word of God has warned us against teachers like Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham... As Paul wrote; "For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough".... This is why we must discern against Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham ... It is called church discipline they would do the same if some one was teaching falsely in there church...
agreed. They totally blew it. Horrible.
I see Billy has Mitt sitting in the "Edith" chair. I wonder if he calls him "Dingbat" too, and I wonder if Billy still shares Archie's view about Jews. He sure was quite the antiSemite back on those Nixon tapes.
This proves how far these religious leaders will go so that a black person is not the president. I want him and all the rest of these leaders to: 1. Retract all the tracks and books they have ever written stating Mormonism is a cult.
2. Go back on the air and retract all the sermons, teachings, tapes and videos they have produced in the past against Mormonism.
3. Return all the donations they have ever received from a black person.
If they do not do it publicly, I will send an open letter to all news, TV and media outlets in the world to highlight this hypocrisy.
Especially interesting considering that the LDS church didn't recognize black men as more or less equal until 1978.
So basically anyone that isn't a Christian belongs to a cult? And Christians wonder why their religion is "under assault". People are tired of their dogmatic intolerance of anyone who doesn't go to their church on Sunday...and we're tired of things like "Jesus is the truth!" being used as an excuse for that intolerance. Learn to play nicely with others, and stop listing any religion not your own as a cult, and you might just find your religion under a lot less "assault".
"Christians" as they are referred to here in Michigan are the cults. We're not talking about people that believe in God, Christ or the Bible. These "Christians" have their whole singular definition. These cults tell their members don't socialize (it costs money), don't do anything fun (it costs money), don't enjoy yourself (it costs money). Instead, give us every penny you have and if you do, we'll get you into heaven.
Any religious organization that spends less than 90% of its received contributions on helping society and the less fortunate – is a cult.
He still has it in his heart and he passionately feels it, but under pressure he had to drop it.
Mormons don't believe in the Trinity as most Protestants and all Catholics.
Funny that CNN finds this worthy to be highlighted. This story is nothing.
Considering that all you neocons want to do is inject religion into politics, there's absolutely a story in this. And it doesn't end well for the middle class or minorities, including women.
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.