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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. samueldavs

    yeha and I suppose people that come from the dead are not demons... yeha billy, when you die your gonna meet the demon jesus

    October 16, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  2. Becky

    Should we be surprised...of course not.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  3. Nick

    I have investigated them. It is a cult. Graham knows it is a cult. This is a political move period. Graham is being a stumbling block by doing this and many who might have been on the fence will now jump into the pit with Graham's blessing.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Bob

      Christianity is also a cult. Easiest conversion targets are sheeple in other religious cults. No surprises here.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • e-Claire

      I have investigated Nick and have found that he is not even a cult.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • al

      absolutely right, I can not believe a Mormon would be called a Christian by a trusted source like Billy Graham just goes to show, even church leaders can not tell the truth sometimes.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Nick

      Way to go Bob. You must have studied Mitt and stupid comments 101. Try to make some sense next time.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  4. Bob

    Hypocrites!

    October 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  5. Bazoing

    A cult founded in a migration established in part by plundering and murdering women and children of at least one other wagon train. A cult in which Satan is Jesus brother. A cult which wants women to be 'sweet." A cult which said Blacks were the sons of Cain and then, in the 1960's had a 'revelation' otherwise "because the time had come." A cult with many other evil attributes.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • e-Claire

      Similar craziness exists in Christianity and many other pop religions. Bizarro stuff, what religealots believe.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  6. Journey

    I read this and come to the same conclusion as most Americans...the Obama Administration has destroyed our economy to the point that even our elders have to sell themselves out and grovel for money.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • mitchmonster

      Where were you during G.W's two terms? With your head in the sand?

      October 16, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  7. mitchmonster

    Billy just sold his soul.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Romney did mention his God this evening. Did you know that we are all children of the same God? His, of course.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  9. mitchmonster

    How much was the check for?......

    October 16, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  10. Imaehia

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReeL-ZUk_y4

    October 16, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  11. dahdit

    'Ol Billy sure looks grumpy in that picture. Maybe that meeting didn't come off quite as well as Rove made it out to be. He wouldn't lie, would he?

    October 16, 2012 at 10:46 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 look's like he was prepared by a martian, walked out of casket.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Doug

      Duh.. yes he would !

      October 16, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  12. CSX

    Oh please. There are so many aberrations of truth it is not funny. Their Jesus was a man who was a sinner and became a god as they shall. The Christian Jesus is God and was NEVER a sinner. Hence inncne tBlood of the Lamb. They say they restored the church in 1830s, yet they agree we were a Christian nation in 1776. Cannot have it both ways. Graham folded from the fundamamentals to appease the liberal churches in 1950, and he is still drifting away from the truth.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      It is all hinduism, fabrication,

      October 16, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Gene

      This is wrong. Mormons absolutely do not believe Jesus was ever a sinner. Get your facts straight.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • curious

      Just wanted to set the record straight. I've been a Mormon all my life and nobody has ever taught that Jesus was a sinner. Our doctrine states that He was/is perfect which is the only reason He can atone for our sins.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  13. Doc Ock

    If this is not the most hypocritical bunch of garbage to come down the pike! Billy's going to turn on his own "faith" to help a rich, republican white man get elected? Says a lot about what he actually believes in doesn't it?
    Just when I think Religion can't do something more goofy, something like this comes along and proves me wrong.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  14. Joseph

    I have listened to Billy Graham since the 1960s at his crusades call Mormonism a Cult.
    Now I realize his is a gospel of convenience, not the Gospel of Christ.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Duh

      it is a gospel of breaking down the separation of church and state.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  15. David L.

    So racism trumps faith?

    October 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Doc Ock

      It would appear so. One rich white man supporting another rich white man. Values and faith? Only when telling others what to do.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  16. Lettie

    Couldn't care less what's on his site....but then it takes one to know one, right?

    October 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  17. Jerlwayne

    One cult calling another cult a cult then caving to political pressure to soften their tone (let's face it...we all need to join forces against the REAL cult – Obama and all the other Muslims, right?). Meanwhile science and reason roll on unscathed, and the headcount in fairytale cultland gets smaller and smaller.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  18. Pat

    The difference between a cult and a religion? In a cult, the guy at the top knows it's a fraud.....in a religion, the guy at the top is dead.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oooh, good one!

      October 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Athy

      That's a keeper. With your implied permission, I will add this to my list of zingers.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  19. Scott

    It's a Cult.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Doug

      The most evil force on the planet, religion... they are all cults.. Billy Graham is a big money phoney like the pope.. Give me a freaking break !

      October 16, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Duh

      The predecessor of Scientology. But what amazes me about mormonism, is how similar its birth story is to Islam.

      golden tablets discovered in a forest versus cave, angels stopping by to retrieve them for God, this chance encounter that gives them the spontaneously ability to translate the ancient text written on golden tablets into their native tongue. The angels stopping the retrieval so Smith or Mohamed can spend time perusing them but no one else gets to see them, both were into the long distance trading business, polygamy, and acknowledged Jesus but had a mission that superseding and improving on what Jesus delivered. Those lost tribes of Isreal being the Aztecs and Mayan indians, is going to be tough to prove.

      Invent a religion, then benefit from the power, wealth, tax breaks, and needy sycophants willing to die for your beliefs.

      If God just had the golden tablets floating in space a mile up for all to see, that would be more believable.

      October 16, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  20. snowboarder

    pragmatism trumps dogma for the religious elite.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:33 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.