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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. bil z'bub

    just a sad deal because its an obvious cave in to the mormon camp by billy g who just got bought out. up to this point he was a pillar in whistle blowing in the non demoninational christian community and now he has proven to be like everybody else before him .. with a price tag attached. he should of cashed in when he was much younger and could drive that fast car fast and that fast woman even faster .. we're bought and sold: slaves.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  2. Morman criminals

    A bigamist Morman and one of his bigamist wives cost me and my siblings our father's estate through lies, deceptions, and perjury. Thankfully my dad never knew that his wife was a bigamist. Unfortunately, my state allows a bigamist to avoid trial by claiming that they thought they were divorced.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  3. Jesus

    Oh thank Heavens! Now I can take them off MY cult list.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  4. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    Religion's, hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by hindu Sanatan's, filthy goon's.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Jesus

      Umm, Hindu atheists...

      Maybe you should sit in the corner and chill for a few minutes and calm down. Maybe grab a dictionary while you're at it

      October 16, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • helix10461

      What are you talking about man? Take a chill pill and do some yoga. Ohm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Shanti Shanti

      October 16, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  5. ChuckB

    Wow, major theological differences were resoved with a 30 minute meeting. That has to be a record. The Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics can't reach an agreement after a thousand years, and, unlike Mormons, both are Trinitarian churches.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Mitsy

      Mormonism is more cult than Christian. They put their allegiance in Joseph Smith as well as Christ. Christ is sufficient according to most orthodox Christian denominations. There is nothing orthodox about Mormonism. Do the research on Joseph Smith & you will find that he was nothing more than an 18th century cult leader.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • ChuckB

      Mitsy, you may have misunderstood me; I agree it is a cult. I meant to be satirical about how quickly Graham would let Romney's political stands influence him. There is much of Mormon dogma that is repellent to (little “o”) orthodox Christians

      October 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • I wonder

      Mitsy,

      I wonder... do you think that "God" spoke to Moses? To Paul of Tarsus? Really?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Guest

      The Mormons DENY the trinity, Christians do not. NO, the Mormons are not a trinitarian church, they are a CULT!

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

      Wow. Get your facts straight people. Mormons believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy spirit. They do not "worship" Joseph Smith, but recognize him as a current day prophet. Just as all the prophets in the bible were men/mortals, Joseph Smith was a latter day prophet who received revelation. If you believe in the Bible and that God would offer revelation to Moses, John, Abraham... why not now? Why not in our day in age. It's all about faith. I suggest you pray and ask for your own answer instead of assuming that God loving people are all cult members. You need to stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  6. PoBoy

    Only until after the election. The right wing is reluctantly lining up behind Mittens in hopes of doing everything in their power to defeat the President. They care as much about Mitt Romney as they do Barney Frank.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  7. mb2010a

    Of course, they'll change it back after Romney loses the election...

    October 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • lisalovescorey

      Exactly! Well said.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  8. Chris33

    Mormons are a cult.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • John

      No.....Mormons are chistians not a cult. The definition of Christianity is to believe in Christ and the New testament, which Mormons believe in.......that sounds pretty Christian to me. A long time ago a group of people branched out from the mormon church and became known as the FLDS church, they believed in polygamy, and were by definition a cult. After years and years of rumors in incorrect information people started getting mormons (LDS) confused with the FLDS church. You are a perfect example of the misinformation.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Guest

      @John-You are incorrect. Mormonism IS a cult! You deny the trinity, and all that God teaches, making the Mormons a cult! The Mormons ARE a cult, have ALWAYS been a cult. You obviously do NOT understand what being a Christian is, because the Mormons are NOT Christians.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  9. Deez

    Religion = Cult

    October 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • deb

      Ha ha – Deez, short and to the point! AMEN! Totally agree with you.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  10. Billy Graham the Pharisee

    Thanks, Billy Graham – you have further exposed the complete hypocrisy of the conservative "Christian" right. As Slate.com's Jacob Weissberg aptly noted, Mormonism is "Scientology plus 125 years." For Christians such as myself, Mormonism is straight blasphemy, in that they believed God was a man on another planet long ago, and if they are good Mormons, they too will rise to be a god.

    And Billy Graham signed on to that bs, after decades of calling it a cult. That's your "Christian" conservative in a nutshell: political expediency uber alles.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  11. SkepticalOne

    Senility is a terrible thing.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  12. Everyman

    When Romney loses they will be a cult again.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  13. mrmefco

    So much to say- obviously, he removed the cult reference so that "his" followers know it's ok with HIM to vote for Romney. I tend to vote republican but crap like that makes me want to vote against whoever, or whatever he is voting for. What a dipstick he is.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  14. t3chsupport

    Well, of course it's a cult when it's just him trying to sell something, but if he's trying to sell a cult, he has to call it something else. That's just business. We all know Graham is evil anyway.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  15. 6km N of G Zero

    No longer a cult. How conveeeeeeenient says Church Lady.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      I think Romney could be Satan.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  16. Sly

    Ho ho ho ... and Mitt Romney just completed turning into a Hispanic.

    Jose' Christ .. who the hell cares what Bill Graham or Pat Robertson think ... they said the US deserved 9/11 because we were sinnin'.

    Ha ha ha ... religious pokies are so amusing.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  17. ItSjUsTmE

    Funny, Mormons are no longer a cult when it's a choice between the cult and a black man being elected. But gee, maybe I'm reading that all wrong, eh? Somehow I doubt it Billy Bob.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • mrmefco

      So many good postings, that one is dead-on. Hypocritical S.O.B. When Obama wins, it will be a cult again.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Jesus

      See, what's really funny, is that they may not be a cult anymore, but that doesn't mean any of them are getting into Heaven. Am I right? Back me up Christians.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • John

      MORMONS HAVE NEVER BEEN A CULT! No.....Mormons are chistians not a cult. The definition of Christianity is to believe in Christ and the New testament, which Mormons believe in.......that sounds pretty Christian to me. A long time ago a group of people branched out from the mormon church and became known as the FLDS church, they believed in polygamy, and were by definition a cult. After years and years of rumors in incorrect information people started getting mormons (LDS) confused with the FLDS church. You are a perfect example of the misinformation.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  18. Nsikan

    Flanklin Billy Graham reminds me of Eli's children. I hope Billy will not go to hell because of his son after all his labor for the kingdom of God. I fear, am afraid and very worried.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • fintastic

      @nsikin please, that is nothing to worry about because there is no such place as hell. It's just ancient mythology.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  19. jakibro

    Salvation for sale of course only if you aren't in that 47%. Atheism is the way to go.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  20. dave

    This is not a one-sided issue. Why does the media ignore that fact that Mormons do not consider other Christians as being legitimate? The Mormon Church believes they are the only true church.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      My Pentecostal grandmother told me that the Mormons and Catholics were going to hell. I think all Christians are a bunch of nuts.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Guest

      @SkepticalOne-I happen to be a Catholic, and I would like to know WHO gave your grandmother the authority to tell ANYONE who's going to hell?????????

      October 16, 2012 at 7:24 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.