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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. riabm60

    Mormon billionaire Romney and his cult, no thanks.
    He is pushing his white horse prophecy.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  2. Greta

    You people are amazing. The reason they are standing with Romney is because they love this country and see that Obama is in no way a friend of Christians or a godly nation. Obama is godless and narcissistic. Romney will be a great leader who will preserve our religious liberties and uphold our godly heritage and strength.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • mr.knowitall

      WHAT EVER DRUGS YOUR TAKING, PLEASE SEND US SOME TOO....

      October 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Athy

      There is no god, Greta. Time to wake up and stop dreaming.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Ricky

      Bullshít. Keep religion separate from government, as our founder fathers intended, please!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • nottolate

      @Greta,

      "You people are amazing. The reason they are standing with Romney is because they love this country and see that Obama is in no way a friend of Christians or a godly nation"

      No, the reason they are standing with Romney is because they refuse to take up their cross and are apostatizing. They are showing what they really are: Counterfeit.

      34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.
      37 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life because of me will find it.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Well Shut My Mouth and Call Me Racist

      Blah blah blah, blah blah blah, I don't like black people. Blah blah blah, blah blah blah, I heard it on Fox News. Blah blah blah, blah blah blah, Rush Limbaugh said so. Blah blah blah, blah blah blah, so did Hannity and Glen Beck. Blah blah blah, blah blah blah, if black people start becoming successful what happens to stupid white people like me?

      October 16, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  3. PaddingtonPoohBear

    Mormons believe in an angel called "Moroni" so I think it would be more accurate if they called themselves "Morons."

    October 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  4. nottolate

    “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."

    TRANSLATION: We're on the road to apostasy now.

    That being said, Billy is so old now that he's probably senile and not even aware of this action. And because he is old and weak his organization has obviously been infiltrated by the enemy.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • nottolate

      @NickZadick

      "I'm pretty sure he gave us free will...which is why we are so fracked!"

      Really? There is no such thing as an unlimited free will. What God allows is for you to make certain choices. Any choice you make that interferes with his providential governance he steps in and overrides. Further, we know that God raises up certain leaders just to bring about the demise of others. See Israel as an example. God also has the ability to affect the human spirit in such a way as to affect their choices without their ever even knowing it.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • NickZadick

      you replied in the wrong section...actually I don't believe in your big book of fairy tales so there is no skydaddy running my life...but have fun with that! :)

      October 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  5. jimcolyer

    Mitt Romney is going to be president.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Balls McGhee

      and zombies will rise from the dead

      October 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Ricky

      I sure hope you are dead wrong.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • nottolate

      @jimcolyer,

      Even if he does it will be for your demise. So temper the celebration. It is God who really decides who's in power and not humans.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • NickZadick

      @Nottolate .. are you on drugs? god decides? I'm pretty sure he gave us free will...which is why we are so fracked!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  6. AmericaVoice

    Cookies and soft drinks with the Billy and mormonism isn't a cult any more.. Billy Goat is Joke and so are the GOP's

    October 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • jimcolyer

      MITT ROMNEY 2012

      October 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  7. Religion for Sale

    What a sellout. They don't want a theological debate because they already know the answer is that they would not accept standard Mormonism as a Christian faith. There is no theological way they are going to reconcile the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith's magic copper plates behind the curtain or that black people were considered the devil up through the late 70's.

    Any Christian voting for Romney should ask whether they'd equally vote for a Scientologist. If you are Catholic or Protestant then religious values certainly cannot be tied to your vote else I'd hope you'd also entertain introducing the Book of Mormon to your Pastor or Priest.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  8. Ricky

    We never learn our lessons, we know that every time in history that a religious group got too powerful, a bunch of people who did not agree with them ended up dead.

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

    Did Mitt flop again? He is a Christian now? Probably he is debating himself again.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  10. Ricky

    We are dangerously close to becoming a first-world Afghanistan, ran by Taliban-like Christian extremists.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • nottolate

      Ok, so cite the "Christian extremism."

      October 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  11. educator36

    Now the evangelicals flip flop–first a cult and now mainstream Christianity

    October 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  12. Ricky

    Horrible. It is scary to think that these brainwashed extremists have so much power in the US politics.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  13. CVR

    Wake up people!!!!

    October 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  14. Mark 1976

    Religion has no place in politics. Ever.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      I agree. Running a country should be about making practical decisions based on the facts, not turning the doctrine of your faith in to laws.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Ricky

      That is true. This is the reason our founding fathers believed in the separation of church and state. For the first 70 years of the Republic, congress would work on Christmas day, so they would not look like favoring any religion.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  15. mr.knowitall

    I SAY ALL TRUE BELIEVERS MUST STOP FOLLOWING GRAHAM DYNASTY. THEY HAVE SOLD OUT, TO KOCK BOTHERS AND GREENBACKS

    October 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Athy

      Writing in all caps is childish. Turn off your caps lock.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  16. BH

    It's sad that so few "Christians" understand what that word really means. Christ is Lord. Christ is God. The Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three facets of the same being. Jesus was not merely a creation or a child of God, but was the manifestation of God Himself upon the Earth. That's why we are called Christians. Because we worship Jesus, who is both our Savior AND our Lord. This has been the foundational definition of "Christian" for nearly 2000 years, and every major Christian religion, from the Baptists to the Catholics, believe it (albeit with some squabbling about the details).

    Mormons don't believe that. Mormons believe (like the Muslims, Hebrews, and other non-Christian Abrahamic faiths), that God is God and that everything else is a creation of God...including Jesus, who became a God himself. The Mormons do have a version of the Trinity called the Godhead, but it is made up of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, which are THREE INDEPENDENT Gods. Mormons are, by definition, polytheists (they believe in multiple gods). They are, by definition, not Christian. You can ONLY call Mormons Christian if you rewrite the 2000 year old definition of the word itself.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Balls McGhee

      how dare you pit one religion against another. they are all immature and irrational.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • JP

      BH.... The definition "you" provided of being Christian is not quoted in Biblical text. Please provide biblical scriptural reference of what a Christian 'is" and your accusations will be relevant!!!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • nottolate

      @BH,

      "It's sad that so few "Christians" understand what that word really means. Christ is Lord. Christ is God. The Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three facets of the same being. "

      You start out by saying Christian "don't understand," then immediately spout heresy yourself not understanding the doctrine of God by the above. Shall I dissect the rest of your post?

      October 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  17. Guest

    "Romney/Ryan 2012"

    – People that want the U.S.A. to continue to exist and not go bankrupt.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • raul

      yeah right.. funny how they didnt bring his religion up .hey hes white thats good enough for me. Sounds like alqueda to me! no thanks.. i like the united states of america.. Not the Corporate states of amerika.

      This book described itself as a chronicle of early indigenous peoples of the Americas, portraying them as believing Israelites, who had a belief in Christ many hundred years before his birth. Smith dictated the book of 584 pages over a period of about three months[5] saying that he translated it from an ancient language "by the gift and power of God".[6] During production of this work in mid-1829, Smith, his close associate Oliver Cowdery, and other early followers began baptizing new converts into a Christian primitivist church, formally organized in 1830 as the Church of Christ.[7] Smith was seen by his followers as a modern-day prophet.[8]

      October 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Marzxyz

      Romeny/Ryan announced their partnership last August in front of a Navy battleship, even though neither of them served one day in the U.S. military. Draw your own your conclusion as to whether or not these fellows are the real deal or snake oil salesmen.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • kramer

      Seriously..!?? So You all learned absolutely nothing then when all these same Rmoney / Ryan Polices FAILED under Dubya Bush and Republicons during the 2000's..!??

      Well, they "Succeeded" if their Goal was to Bankrupt and Meltdown the U.S. Government, Economy and World Economies All at Once..!!

      Shockingly, that probably was the Republicon's exact Goal all along as they HATE U.S. Government, 47% of All Americans, and running Up Record Debt with No Improvements for America is a sure Plan to Now call for Auesterity..!!

      October 16, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  18. Ricky

    Testing

    October 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  19. EchoesX

    Mormonism IS a cult. So is mainstream Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, etc. Don't like it? Take it up with Merriam-Webster. People just don't like their particular brand of insanity being associated with images of blood stained altars, human sacrifices and mass suicides.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • jd

      I don't like this either but lets show some patience and wisdom
      God is in control, not Graham and Certainly not Romney.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  20. Barry

    Billy, you are right. America is at a crossroads. And Mitt would take us in a disastrous direction. As much as I respect this man's legacy and years of ministry, I am saddened that at the end of his days, he surrendered his previous good judgement when it came to avoiding direct involvement in politics.

    October 16, 2012 at 7:13 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.