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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. xuaerdub

    Billy, it's tough enough ministering to our communities without you becoming the lap dog of the rich AGAIN !! Are you ministering to the richest 2%? Well bless your heart. And leave the 98% to the rest of us ( half of which your team has labeled as worthless wards of the state). They associate us with you and now, they just really don't like you. Why don't you stick to the simple message of Christ and leave oppression of the poor to Satan and his minions.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  2. closedmind

    Is Reverend Graham now willing to call Joseph Smith a Prophet. Does he now believe in the Book of Mormon? I did not think so, just more pandering to the GOP by the Christian Wrong.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  3. southernsugar

    Mormonism is a cult. Period. Jesus warned us NOT to believe in false prophets....lo' and behold, Joseph Smith shows up and people that aren't really
    Christians 'believe' his trash. Oye Ve!

    October 16, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Bob

      Jesus was a false prophet.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Athy

      All religions are a cult.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  4. elijahi34

    Deuteronomy 28

    October 16, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Athy

      Astronomy 101.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Economy 101. Hands down.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Athy

      Shitonomy 101. Basic course all fundies and vangies should be required to take.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Lobotomy 101: what most of the fundies appear to have undergone prior to birth.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  5. Observer

    An imaginary friend club is an imaginary friend club is an imaginary friend club.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  6. PETER

    Very disappointing the Grahams did not stand by their biblical view.
    What politics can do !

    October 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  7. Greg M

    It isnt a cult now just because Billy Graham said it wasnt? In my books, it is and will remain so. I had family who were Mormons ( may they rest in peace) and they were very kind people, but I always thought their religion was nuts- but then again, I think most religion has been corrupted by man kind ( but that is a different comment, for a different day). If Billy thinks its a cult, then he should have stuck to it, rather then change his feelings about it, because it might offend some one. I guess that means Billy, is too concerned about being politically correct, rather then sticking to his faith.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  8. elijahi34

    if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book ( rev 22- 18. The word of God is set. there is no such thing as extra books or testimonies from God. Moses talks about those plagues in Deuteronomy 18.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • Plentu

      If the word of god is set, then obviously prayer cannot do anything either.

      Prayer's for jerks. Proven.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  9. aaron

    Never thought that Graham would be a sellout. Mormon believers get their own planets and become the gods of those planets after they die. Not in line with Judeo-Christian beliefs in having only one God before you.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Bob

      You know what's also not in line with Judeo-Christian beliefs? Reality. It is silly for you to make fun of their faith when yours is just as crazy.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  10. Bart

    How very convenient.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  11. Bob

    LOL, god. This is all too funny. Why don't we also ask our leaders where they stand on the tooth fairy and Santa?

    October 16, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  12. Milton Platt

    Of course, after the election, the website reference will go back up.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Yup

      It'll be put in large font and bold when Romney loses.

      New Graham headline will be "Phony nutso MORMON CULT couldn't even beat a nigra president . . . but I, Billy Graham, am over that racism problem I had in the Nixon administration."

      October 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  13. David Crosby

    The Christians were once considered a cult ...And still are by some people...

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

      of course that is true, that also makes the Jehovahs Wisnessnes not a cult. Wfho does that leave out the Roman Catholic church?

      October 16, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  14. Acdsasf

    Bottom line. If Mitt wasn't running for President, Graham would still consider them a cult.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • 25HCC

      Graham has a money IV keeping him alive.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  15. alfranken

    just shows that the "Christian" religion will and has made a contract with the devil.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  16. I TOLD U SO!

    Thats billy graham look like that old guy from poltergeist.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  17. Bruce

    Just because Billy Graham says they are not a cult doesn't make it so.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  18. KAYNDAEMAH

    And you wonder why organized religion is losing respect.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Griderrr

      The church is faling intune with the prosperity messages. I say love all, but do not accept the doctrines...

      October 16, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  19. Fritz Hohenheim

    There isn't even anything rational you can say about these guys other than: Screw Them!

    October 16, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  20. sdgman

    They are a cult.. Graham is a sellout

    October 16, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Milton Platt

      All religions are a cult to all other religions

      October 16, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Athy

      All religions are a cult... To everyone!

      October 16, 2012 at 11:11 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.