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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. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Now that things have slowed down a bit ...

    A 33 year old score has been settled. Jerry Falwell has his revenge from beyond the grave.

    Let’s look at a time line:

    ..................1979
    Jerry Falwell founds Moral Majority:
    Billy Graham refused to join Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, saying: "I'm for morality, but morality goes beyond sex to human freedom and social justice. We as clergy know so very little to speak with authority on the Panama Canal or superiority of armaments. Evangelists cannot be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle in order to preach to all people, right and left. I haven't been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will be in the future."

    ..................1980
    Mark DeMoss enrolled at Liberty University, Falwell’s school, in 1980, the year after his father died of a heart attack. Falwell, a fundamentalist preacher, would become like a second father.

    DeMoss’s dad had been friends with Falwell – DeMoss says it’s unclear if the insurance marketing company his father founded, National Liberty Corp., helped give Liberty University its name – and Mark found work in Falwell’s office after graduation.

    ..................1980s
    By the time he was 23, DeMoss was serving as Falwell’s chief of staff and spokesman, helping his boss run a growing evangelical empire that included the Lynchburg, Virginia, university and a new organization Falwell had helped found: the Moral Majority.

    The organization aimed to bring evangelicals back into the political fold, after millions of them had spent decades sitting out elections, convinced that politics were a dirty, ungodly business.

    Falwell taught him how political organizing works, from the grassroots to the very top. He took him to meetings with President Ronald Reagan, whom the Moral Majority had helped elect, and President George H.W. Bush.

    ..................1991
    DeMoss founds the DeMoss Group, a Christian PR firm in Atlanta.

    The firm, took Falwell as its first client and quickly added business from big Christian groups like Chuck Colson’s Prison Ministries, Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse and Christian Crusade for Christ.

    More than 20 years later, those groups are still with DeMoss.

    ..................2006
    Mark DeMoss approaches Mitt Romney about running for President.

    ..................2007
    Jerry Falwell dies.

    ..................2008
    Mitt Romney runs in the Republican Primaries, losing to John McCain

    ..................2011
    DeMoss is a Senior Advisor to the Romney Campaign (and his evangelical ambassador)

    ..................2012
    May, 2012 – Romney delivers the commencement speech to graduates at Liberty U.

    September, 2012 – Romney delivers “I will not take God out of my heart, I will not take God out of the public square, and I will not take it out of the platform of my party,” stump speech at Liberty U.

    October, 2012 – Billy and Franklin Graham meet with Mitt Romney and erase references to cults (like Mormonism) on Billy Graham’s website.

    Jerry Falwell (Moral Majority / Liberty U.) – connects to – Mark DeMoss – connects to – Franklin Graham (Samaritan's Purse) – connects to – Billy Graham and Mark DeMoss – connects to – Mitt Romney

    Following the connections, Falwell gets his revenge and Dr. Graham backs a Mormon and probably doesn't even know.

    Politics, as usual.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  2. Tom Joad

    How is it up to Hill-Billy Graham if Mormonism is a cult or not. Graham is a cult meister himself. Billy is the saint that told Bush it was OK to kill Iraqi's for Christ. All these phoney religions are morally bankrupt.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  3. Gwenie

    ...I am a Christian and I was very surprised and disappointed at Dr. Graham as I had a lot of respect for him, but , he is human and subject to error...People can try and twist it any way they want, but Mormonism is a cult..And the fact that President Obama is a Christian and the evangelicals are throwing him under the bus just floors me...I pray for the president every night and I will continue to pray and even fast for him until the election because to me he displays the qualities for "caring for the least of these"..Jesus has a special place in his heart for the poor, widows,and orphans and the whole idea that republicans want to take away any safety nets for these people doen't sound very Christian to me....They are truly a bunch of Pharisees....

    October 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Gwenie,

      don't be disappointed in Dr. Graham. This is Franklin Graham's work – and Mark DeMoss a Jerry Falwell Moral Majority and Liberty U. graduate who has been Franklin's PR guy for 21 years.

      DeMoss is Mitt's evangelical outreach guy.

      I don't think that Dr. Graham can remember what he had for lunch.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • nope

      God has a plan. Please stop screwing it up with your fasting and prayers. OR, if he is omniscient, and changes his mind, he didn't really know what he was going to do, before you fasted and prayed. Get a grip. Use your brain.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  4. beau

    Religious sales people believe that they can sell their version of Christianity to weak-minded Christians. Mr. Gram is attempting to use his standing among Christians to influence the election. Thus, he has revealed his hand and should have no credibility with true followers of Christ. Mormonism does not adhere to the teachings of Christ and therefore it is not Christianity. Many will preach in His name, but beware of them. Christians are followers of Christ and know the he is GOD. Moreover, they are advocates for the poor and homeless.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  5. Broadcasting

    May you all be touched by his noodley appendage. Ramen.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • GAW

      And may a dirty pair of Mormon underwear fall on your windshield.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  6. fortysevenpercent

    One flip-flopper helping another flip-flopper.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      allowed by supreme court of USA.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  7. GAW

    The religious right needs more bed fellows...who better than the Mormons.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      looks like they do not believe in two in a bed at one time any more.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  8. Jesus is Lord

    Mormons are generally good people but they are definitely deceived. Mormonism is a cult. Read the testimonies of former Mormons to learn about them.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • JJ

      All Christianity is a cult. Try and step outside your bubble and grow a brain.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Jesus is dead.

      All the rest is fiction.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  9. Christian's Lie!

    What size of "donation" from the Koch Bros did it take for Graham to change religions?

    October 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Must have been large. Mitt desperatly needs the protestnts that call Mormons cults to vote for Mitt.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  10. Odyssey

    These guys are disgusting and annoying

    October 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      tell us some thing new new, they are certified and quqlified hindu's, crook's.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  11. beau

    I used to be a repub till congress was taken over by the tea party and Romney as our candidate.I cannot support a man who is a draft dodger and a tax evader.The repub congress has done nothing for vets,nothing for the middleclass.All of the good repubs have gone or have been forced out by the extremists that care nothing for the average joe or veterans like myself.Until we get real candidates that care for the middleclass and vets I will not vote for the repubs.Honor and respect,and caring for this nation is what the repubs used to stand for ,now we have wackjobs from the tea party holding america hostage and thats as un patriotic as it gets,it is hurting many americans,our economy and soldiers who are looking for work. Romney is not the answer he is the problem with America with his lies and phony religion...Sorry this voter will stay an ex repub till the party becomes honerable again.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      he is not a man, he is a hindu, ignorant Mormon.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  12. Mark Taylor

    II used to respect Dr Graham as an honest guy. Not so much anymore. Just another phony using faith to try to sway voter opinion. Sickening.

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

    Republicans are going to settle on an east coast, elite, millionaire from an aristocratic family? What is his experience that will make him a successful Conservative President?
    1. He fires people, lays off employees, and outsources jobs while pocketing the pension funds of those same employees.
    2. He is comfortable in an upper class setting. After all, America IS the upper class, isn't it? The little people, like you and I, are not really very important. People of Romney's class and background see us as livestock that can understand English.
    3. He does not care if Americans suffer. He has made lots of them suffer so far in his life. He's made of tough stuff. No weepy compassion will ever cloud his judgment.
    4. He knows how to destroy corporations and sell off their assets. He could use those skills to destroy the federal government, a stated goal of Conservatism
    5. After the Romney Administration is over in 2016 or 2018, Conservatives will say, "Hey, you can't blame us for the disastrous Romney Administration. He wasn't a TRUE Conservative. What we need is a TRUE Conservative like Ron Paul or Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum … or maybe govornor Palin."So the

    October 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  14. beau

    If you're a mormon:
    You believe in a man named Joseph Smith that declared himself a general against the American Government and then said he would create a Theocratic Monarchy with himself at its head.
    You also believe in a man named Joseph Smith that married a 14 year old girl – even though he already had plural wives – because he told the child's family they would receive instant eternal salvation if they gave her to him (Smith).
    You also believe in becoming a god after this life if you have committed to and followed all of your temple rituals sincerely and without deviance.
    You also believe that anyone that is not a mormon will NOT be allow to be with Jesus Christ or God, no matter how good they are, if they do not accept your gospel (religion) to be the only true church. For example. Mother Teresa will not be in heaven if she does not accept a posthumous baptism in the after life.
    You also believe that you must take on secret temple names, wear garments (underwear) that has secret symbols that are used in secret rituals in the temple as well as a blood oath that began in 1843, but ended in 1990 when there was a general uproar amongst non-mormons that found out about this particular ritual.
    You also believe Blacks and Native Americans were marked with dark skin for being evil in the pre-life or because they just displeased god.
    You believe that once you are a god of your own world, you with your heavenly wife will create spirit children that will then fill the earthly bodies of human on your own particular planet that you rule over...meaning that you are already (in certain terms) better than the God that created this planet.
    You do believe that Lucifer and Jesus were and are brothers. Sign A TRUE Conservative Republican."

    October 16, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • JJ

      Sounds as crazy as a Protestant or Catholic.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  15. EPB

    This family-owned franchise is on shaky ground...

    October 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Morally bankrupt perhaps, but plenty of cash in the till now, thanks to Mitt's SuperPACs.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      Supported by hindu's, ignorant's.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  16. Tom B

    People throw the word "cult" around like it applies to any group that holds to "unorthodox" teachings outside the "mainstream". I don't believe we should judge one another just because we have varying beliefs, but I will not stand by and be silent while certain organizations and religions use lies,fear and intimidation to pressure their converts to conform or get cast out and ostracized. These high-control groups ruin peoples lives and have blood on their hands. I don't care if it's the LDS leaders, the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, The Unification Church, Orthodox Church, Amish Bishops or your local priest, pastor, imam or rabbi – men love to control other men and tell them what to believe, how to dress, what to eat, what to wear, who to marry ...... the list goes on and on. Jesus did not come to turn humanity into a bunch of cliques. He came to free us as individuals and not to judge and control one another. His message had been ignored by man's "religion". A man can have faith in God but not religion (like me). A man can also have religion but no faith in God. These people who want to run your lives and tell you who and what God is and how to serve him are inserting themselves in a position they don't belong. We all need to take off the shirt we wear that says "Tell me what to do !" We all need to wake up and realize we are each individually responsible for what we believe and how we act and that IT IS OUR CHOICE, not because some knucklehead wants to be our "lord" and make us conform to his idea of reality. I have only one lord and that's Jesus, not any human.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • End Religion

      jesus and god do not exist. All religion is a fraud. Calling your beliefs "unaffiliated spirituality" or other hogwash does not help you dodge this bullet. If you suffer from a brand of this delusion, it is no less crazy than any other.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Tom B

      "jesus and god do not exist. All religion is a fraud. Calling your beliefs "unaffiliated spirituality" or other hogwash does not help you dodge this bullet. If you suffer from a brand of this delusion, it is no less crazy than any other."

      Was I attacking you or your non-spirituality ? I was talking to those who have belief in God, especially Jesus Christ. Yet you seem to enjoy making fun of me and my beliefs and making yourself look mean-spirited and contrite. Why don't you try building some bridges instead of tearing bridges down. I am not attacking you, so what gives you the right to attack me in such a mean way ?

      October 16, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      So, Tom, Jesus is your LORD and God? Can you explain the trinity to us, please.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • Tom B

      I don't believe that God is a trinity. I don't believe the Bible really teaches that, but I am ok if you believe that it does. I am not going to say you are not a real or good Christian because you believe or don't believe God is a trinity. To me, it is not a salvation issue.

      October 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • manbearpig

      Tom –
      Why believe any of it?

      October 16, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      So Tom does not believe Jesus is divine. How weird. And a new cult is born.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  17. Birdie

    Mitt and Billy now have something in common–bending and compromising to fit the moment. Truth be damned. They can keep that change...

    October 16, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      hindu strange bed fellow's.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  18. RaisedMormon

    That fact that the other "True Christians' would get into bed with Mormons now, makes them all cults!

    October 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      Ye, they will get in to bed with a female dog to please their hindu soul, filthy desire.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  19. John

    Isn't it wonderful when Baptists can overcome their religious bigotry to focus on their racism!

    October 16, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      For a reason, yes, just like a hindu hungry dog.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      It is amazing to watch religious people stomp and scream at all who don't share their delusion, then put it all aside in the name of racism.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  20. Rod M. Chicago

    Honestly, white people have a very low bar for supporting Romney...they've been looking for any reason to vote for him even though what he stands for is not in line with their beliefs.

    October 16, 2012 at 8:33 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.