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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. ElmerGantry

    So, I guess that Mitt Romney has convinced Billy Graham that the following are not telltale signs of a cult.
    1. Mormons believe that men will become a god of their own planet. That this god and his many wives in heaven (in Mitt’s case the first class level of the three levels of heaven) will spawn mult.itudes of spirit children on this planet.
    2. That Mormons believe that Native Americas are directly decedents of ancient Israeli peoples and as such are Jewish contrary to all genetic, archeological, and linguistic evidence. The same applies to Polynesians of the South Pacific.
    3. That Mormons wear special undergarments for the purpose of protecting them from the outside world. Why would a president Mitt Romney need secret service agents? Seems like an opportunity to save the gubmint some money and staff.
    4. Mormons believe in posthumous baptism. Sure it is officially denounced, but it is still widely practiced.
    5. Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers.
    6. Mormons believe god resides on or near a planet named kolob.
    7. Joseph Smith translated the “Book of Abraham” from some Egyptian hieroglyphics before Egyptian hieroglyphics were understood. OOOOOPS! The actions of a con artist.
    8. Speaking of con artist, Joseph Smith practiced the con know as glass looking aka money digging. The practice of finding buried treasure on farm lands with the use of seer stones. Almost forgot, all for a price of course! And guess what, none of the farmers ever got any buried treasure, only a thinner wallet.
    Mitt must have cast quite a spell on Billy Graham.
    Oh the things Mitt and the Greedy Obstructionist Party of NO! will do prevent a democrat from winning the election. Remember from the beginning of the Obama administration the very public mantra was “our number one priority is to make Obama a one term president” and the Greedy Obstructionist Politicians made good on their promise with record numbers of filibusters and anonymous objections with the sole purpose of making government as non-functional as possible.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • JJ

      It really doesn't matter. The sheep will fall in line behind their leader just as Catholic parents do with their pedophile priests.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      @JJ,

      i Know. : (

      October 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • End Religion

      Money: The Universal 'Convincer'

      October 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  2. garyR

    another flip flop, etch a sketch republican cynically using religion in this case..

    October 16, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • swingstater

      That is not a recent development. Here's the deal. The GOP really only worships the God of money.

      If they had any true Evangelical morality, they would have banned Newt from the party for (a minimum) of two long-term mistresses and three marriages. My Southern Baptist grandfather would never have tolerated that in a leader.

      If the GOP had any true morality as people, they would never call the poor and the beleaguered middle-class "parasites" simply leaching off the rich and all for outsourcing their fellow Americans' jobs to China. And my grandfather sure would have had even less tolerance for that sort of greed and selfishness.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  3. midnitejax

    So Billy Graham's purse just got a little thicker when the LDS "donated" to his so called "church". Either that or look for chapped lips on Romney for kissing keaster big time.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • noneedtobebitter

      Say Franklin Graham! He is a conniving false christian and wants his Daddy empire.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  4. sassyladyfl

    Wow buddy...even the baptists are getting on the morman bandwagon...

    October 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • dj

      no its more of the united disgust of gay marriage

      October 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      dj, EXACTLY what do you have against gay marriage?

      October 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • dj

      Personally nothing if i saw a gay couple i wouldnt mistreat them i cant help my facial expression like laughing or anguish..As a christian I hate the very thought of it with a bloodlust passion.

      October 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  5. Davidbiz

    The definition of a cult is simple: It's what the big congregations call the little congregations!

    October 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Got that right.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • JJ

      Cult – the other guy's religion.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  6. James PDX

    "As such, he never proselytized, targeted or labeled specific people, groups, faiths or denominations."

    So, wait, Graham's label of Mormonism as a cult that you removed, that never actually happened? So what was the whole point of this article then? I'm completely lost now in some kind of Twilight Zone.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  7. Tony

    Ok, so how much was the "contribution" to the good works of the ministry? We all know of the connection between big church and big business.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  8. Dave

    Don't Mormons believe that they are the only true church? That everyone else is wrong?

    October 16, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Dave

      I'm hoping a Mormon answers that question btw...Another question, do Mormons believe that the President of their church receives divine revelation or speaks to God directly? For example, when the Mormons gave black members the same rights as their other members in the 70s, wasn't it God telling the prophet of the Mormon church that it was time?

      October 16, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • LouAZ

      EVERY church believes that !

      October 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Dave

      Do Mormons believe that the President of their church receives divine revelation or speaks to God directly? When the Mormons gave black members the same rights as their other members in the 70s, wasn't it God telling the prophet of the Mormon church that it was time?

      October 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      That has been suspended until after the election. Romney / Ryan2012

      October 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • swingstater

      Indeed they do.

      If you aren't Mormon, you aren't going to the third (highest) level of Heaven. You can't even attend their church, unless you are LDS.

      But, from their greedy and amoral behavior, I would guess what happens to them in the Afterlife isn't really troubling the Republicans too much.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Dave

      ...actually, no some churches believe that we all are essentially praying to the same God and that the goodness of your heart and intentions or what you did on earth determine who goes to heaven or hell...I think the distinction is that Mormons are the only ones who make it to heaven....

      October 16, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      So, it seems they are completely compatible with the Christian church on that point! I believe them both.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Abinadi

      The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is based on the teachings of Christ and the New Testament. Christ founded his church on apostles and prophets. Ephesians 2 states: "19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
      20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;"
      Apostles and prophets are absolutely essential because they hold the keys to the priesthood. If the apostles all die, the authority is lost along with revelation; we no longer know the mind and will of God and Christ is no longer the "chief cornerstone". False teachers and priests arise and we are "carried about with every wind of doctrine". Paul taught in Ephesians 4: "11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
      12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
      13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
      14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;"
      Without apostles and prophets we cannot come to a "unity of the faith" nor be perfected in Christ. Without a prophet who speaks authoritatively the will of God, only confusion can reign as people argue what God meant and uninspired men tamper with the holy scriptures!

      October 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  9. RaisedMormon

    Romney is proof positive that Mormonism is base in dishonesty, hypocrisy, and false precepts. The fact that the other Christian Religions are deferring to him now is proof that they are bogus as well!

    October 16, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • foxfire

      Sorry but the Billy Graham would endorse Hitler to keep the Democrats out of office. Their tax free funds and living the life of the wealthy should be investigated.

      The family is a real hoax...sorry to say. They at one time didn't want black attending white churches. Religion is a sorry business...I use to be one of them.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  10. Beth

    I just find it appalling that both Billy Graham's son Franklin and Jerry Falwell's son can use their fathers as props..(Fallwell who has already passed away and Billy who as you can see is not well) to further their own agendas..getting more for their own pockets. If they were honest, they would admit that both their fathers did view Mormonism as a cult and they are going against their strong beliefs that built both Billy Graham Ministries and Liberty Baptist Church/ Liberty University. Not only did Falwell welcome Mitt with open arms, he even had him present the commencement address..and of course as always will be busing students to polls to vote Republican. Hey, they are the ones who will have to answer on this one.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Beth,

      there is a connection: Mark DeMoss.

      DeMoss graduated from Liberty U and worked for Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority. He struck out on his own as a Christian PR guy and has had Franklin Graham as a client since the beginning, 21 years ago. DeMoss is Mitt Romney's evangelical outreach ambassador.

      If you don't think that one of Mitt's SuperPACs made a large donation to Franklin's next crusade, then I have some swampland or bridges you might like to buy.

      You might remember that Billy Graham refused to join the Moral Majority. Falwell now has his revenge from the grave.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  11. MarkinFL

    This is so like an arranged marriage and the Tea Party is the intermediary. This is a political marriage designed to strengthen both sides while they both hold their noses.

    If nothing else, I get to see the Christian right have to embrace a psuedo-consevative Mormon in order to avoid a moderate black man.

    This is rich!

    October 16, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @MarkinFL,

      rich is the word I'd use to describe the donation that a Koch-funded SuperPAC probably made to Franklin's next crusade.

      This 'marriage' was arranged by Franklin's PR man of 21 years and Mitt's evangelical reacharound guy – Mark DeMoss. If Mittens wins the White House, Mark DeMoss will be hailed as the new Karl Rove.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      I just took another look at the picture above and Billy Graham looks about as happy to be with Romney as he would the Devil!

      HAHAHAHHAH!

      And Romney looks like he thinking to himself "shove this down your high and might throat old man! Cultl Bwaahaahaaa

      October 16, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  12. LouAZ

    Hilarious ! Getting close to death the Great Billie Graham is trying to cover all the spots on the Table.
    Well, after the Mo's he only has about 3000 other religions to cut a deal with as well.
    Get busy, Billie, the Voodoo Hoodoo Doodoo is comin' to get ya !

    October 16, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Voo Doo hoo doo ain't running for President. Romney / Ryan 2012

      October 16, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • swingstater

      Graham will not be going to the Mormon third (highest) level of Heaven. That is what they believe.

      And, while I don't care what others believe (as long as they don't hurt others) the LDS does have "cult" elements. They forbid their members to drink coffee, alcohol and even soft drinks. They regulate the clothing that they wear and forbid tattoos and other body art. They even forbid men growing any sort of facial hair. They also demand their members wear special sacred underwear.

      And, of course, no outsiders can set foot in their church–not even to attend a wedding.

      And, in case of the fundamentalists LDS, they are a very closed society that still practices polygamy–some with underage children. For those that are lucky enough to leave, they cannot then ever contact their families. Google FLDS and read all about it. And Mitt and the mainstream LDS says absolutely nothing about them.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  13. lesmoore

    The grahams do whatever is politically convenient. They are the true cult and get to be tax free.
    I have worked in their headquarters and I can tell you I've never felt more weirded out in my life by the
    cult-like culture there. Absolutely sickening. Billy looks like a demonic figure from a horror movie too.
    His son is an arrogant moron. Bottom line – All religion is a cult. Billy doesn't get to define who is and who isn't.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  14. PA86

    What? You mean Mitt did not ask if the cookies were from the local 711? And he actually ate them? But seriously, I always admired Billy Graham for staying out of the political arena and not taking sides so much publicly. Since Franklin first came on the scene, as a Christian, I was not pleased. I have political opinions that I do not expect other Christians to necessarily hold the same. And as a Christian, I also believe God gave man the freedom of choice. I do not believe in any attempts to "legislate" what I believe as being the law of the land.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • Beth

      I don't think Billy is making any decisions..he's a very sick man with Parkinson's and I think it's pathetic of his son to prop up his father and change his father's views on the website to accommodate his own political views. I believe Billy Zgraham never faltered in his beliefs and ow to have members of his organization just change them is wrong.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • williplantsman

      I'm with you!

      October 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  15. Lars J

    Most of life is subjective and people are free to claim whatever they wish about themselves and the groups they identify. But once in a while life forces on people a choice which creates an objective statement from them whether they want it to or not. In this case, the question of whether politics is more important than theology to many American cultural Christians is clearly answered.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  16. Hneftafl

    Cookies and soft drinks? These are grown men, right?

    October 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Can't serve Mittens coffee or tea!

      October 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • swingstater

      The LDS is forbidden soft drinks as well. Y'all should go check out ex mormon . org.

      There was a funny story of a new Mormon convert who went to the store and decided to buy some Coke (gasp! the horror!) She said a female LDS official caught her and announced to the rest of the store in a loud voice item by item what she was buying to shame her.

      And there's lots more of that which make the LDS sound more like the 15th century than the 21st.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I'd like someone to try and humiliate me in Public, wouldn't be a smart move....

      October 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 16, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  18. J2

    If someone claims to be a follower of Christ but advocates for exactly the opposite of what Christ taught isn't that being anti Christ?

    We built it? – Really? Not according to the Bible: “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

    Success = having a lot of money? Greed is good? Not according to the Bible: 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

    23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

    Obama is a real Christian. Romney is a self-centered hypocrite who will do/say whatever it takes to get whatever it is that he thinks he deserves.

    31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    October 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  19. Tom Adams

    I don't like organized relegion. It spends more time helping itself than people.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Until a Republican has helped himself to all he wants he does not have the resources to help others. I got mine get yours and I ain't helping you. Romney / Ryan 2012

      October 16, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  20. JDV

    So strange how the "Christian" right can gloss over a non-Christian as their candidate. These are the same people who crucified Bill Clinton for being a "draft dodger" for his student deferments. Where are their questions about Willard's military service during the Viet Nam war? Because he was doing missionary work for a cult in France?

    October 16, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      As our new commander in chief he will be doing missionary work restoring America to moral integrity. Romney / Ryan 2012

      October 16, 2012 at 8:20 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.