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 always thought the Mormons were exclusive. But now they accept a few denominations.....10s 20s 50s 100s
Funny, but I think you've got it the wrong way around.
Franklin's next crusade is happily accepting all denominations – 10s, 20s, 50s 100s.
....and VISA and MasterCard and Firstborns
More hypocrisy among Christians – what a shock. A cult yesterday...not today. ALL RELIGIONS ARE CULTS. The definition of cult is:
a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
the object of such devotion.
a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
Sociology . a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
Tattoo an elephant on a snakes behind and a republican will vote for it.
If it's all white! It's all right! I always thought Billy Graham was the real deal. How disappointing.
I don't give a hoot what organized religion one follows. There are wonderful people and horrible people in all of them. It's the zealots that I have issue with. Believe, have faith, pray, find the light and follow the light, let the aura of your shield shine, not the blade of your sword. There is one god, one spirit and if humans want to use the name of God to justify their zealousnes, whoa to them, they are blind and foolish. I have been to many earthly religious houses, I have seen the light in some and total darkness in others. It matters not where you go to worship in public, it only matters what you do behind closed doors when you go before God and seek him out quietly in humble joy. For it's your heart that he sees and knows.
Wow, Emma! You need a dose of reality.
So Emma, you are a "seer"?
Even God wouldn't want to know what I do behind closed doors.
So in other words Billy decided to go against God's teachings and embrace a cult religion inspired by Satan all because he got suckered in by one of the cult's disciples.
Is there no a$$ this man Rommley, this man will not kiss in his quest for the whitehouse.
I mean come on the list just keeps growing KOCH BROS. ADDELSON, RUMP, NORMAN, This man could never earn my respect.
I wonder if Billy Graham knows that Mormon's have 3 heavens, and they are the only ones that will go to the top! They say people like Billy Graham, that were spiritual, but didn't believe their way will go to the middle heaven. He would have to be baptized and sealed in the Mormon temple to get into their heaven with God! Don't fall for it Billy!
I will not condemn Romney for his belief's because I believe Jesus came to save the world and not condemn it.
I absolutely condemn the false doctrine of Mormonism – a religious belief made up by a delusional founder named Joseph Smith.
Looks like your delusion is similar to Romney's.
Man...where was this revelation for Billy Graham, Inc. the last 70 years. Romney must have promised the Graham family some serious access and contracts. These people are pathetic and have about as much in common with Mormonism, Christianity, and conviction as Gordon Gekko and the Music Man.
So were all the other denominations left in place on Billy's "Cult" list??? Funny how politics can influence religion like this. All religion is stupid, Mitt is too religious thus he is also stupid and the furthest thing from religion is Obama right now, thus I'm voting for him this election year.
this is the same graham that said that obama is a moslem.even though obama has never participated in any moslem activities.He went further to state that the seed of a father is passed on to the son.I want to know what made the old man changed his mind?talk about hipocrasy.My mother is an jew from nigeria& my father is a baptist,i guess that makes me a baptist.for this reason i keep religion at bay.
doesn't matter...a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet....however in this case IT STINKS...Billy/Franklin YOU ARE SO WRONG ON THIS
" The Catholic Church also does not recognize Mormon baptisms as being theologically compatible with its own." I guess you have to get an adapter.
These are the last days, read the epistle of Timothy about the events that will unfold in the last days. No greater sin has man committed that creating God in his own image. The truth is constant, all men are liars and sinners.
That bullshit would sound good in 1600 puritanical New England. Now it sounds like plain ol' bullshit.
Jesus was a man. I guess he is a liar...that's what you said.
End days huh? So, your fairy man in the sky (who doesn't exist) will finally show up on earth and zombify the dead and rain fire and wisk you away to your disney land in the sky and blablabla??? good luck with that! I'm not too worried about that...about you (fable lovers)...well... that's different!
What is sad is how Billy Grahams son has sold his soul to the devil. Forget what his dad did before.. put him in front of a camera, knowing he is senile, and prop him up and talk for him. Great Son
I'm sure one of Mitt's Koch Bros SuperPACs made it worth Franklin's while. All brought to you by Mark DeMoss, Franklin's PR guy for 21 years and Mitt's evangelical ambassador.
Somehow this doesn't surprise me. In order for the religious right to have more bedfellows they need to broaden their definition of orthodoxy or decline attempts to define other rival groups as heretical. For most of the religious right Mormonism has the clout and influence to join in the grand vision for religious conservatism in America. It is safe to say the the movement will be transformed into a conservative civil religion leaning on political power to carry out its bidding.
Smells like old school racism making a comeback in a down economy rife with fear. Old Southern white man having a conversation with middle-aged white men about how we can't possibly have black man as President. Tell us what can we do to help you son?
You hit it right on the head!
Mormonism is a cult. Anyone familiar with church history and theology knows that the official Mormon position is: Jesus is a created being. There was a time when Jesus was not. Mormonism has a different understanding of the nature of Jesus Christ than that of traditional Christianity (as expressed in the Nicene Creed). Up until now, Billy Graham has agreed that Mormonism is a cult, by saying so in his web site. That is no longer so. What changed his mind? Mormonism has not changed their mind about who Jesus is!
About time. Graham is a cult leader himself. Perfect example of the kettle calling the pot black.
A created being? What the heck does that mean? Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We believe that God sent Jesus to the Earth to atone for our sins. Just like any of the other main stream religions. We believe in Baptisms, and use the bible references from John The Baptist as a guide when performing baptisms. The long name for the Mormon Church is "The First Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." Why would we have Jesus's name in the name of our Church if we believe he is just a created being. All the people who make statement like you do not really understand what the Mormon church is about. You should do some research before you make statements about things you don't understand instead of just condemning them. Besides it really does matter if the President is a Mormon or Catholic or a non-Christian faith. The President doesn't run the country, Congress does. Even the Mormon Church has remained neutral and has not endorsed Mitt Romney.
How much did it cost?
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.