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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. blessedgeek

    Billy Graham removed Mormons from the endangered list?

    October 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  2. daniel

    What a shame that on behalf of politics Christians like Billy Graham and son compromise the healthy doctrine of christian ism because of human political benefits.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Jesus is dead.

      "chritianism" ? Heh heh. It's called "Christianity". It's FAR from healthy. You think that an ancient pi.ss.ed off deity that required his son to die, so he could feel better is a healthy religion ? It's sick.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  3. erik

    End Religion, what is going to happen to you when you die?

    October 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • End Religion

      You need to be more specific.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Looking at Clouds

      erik,

      We probably go to a magical land of flying unicorns, helpful leprechauns, everlasting rainbows, beautiful pixies and sparkling butterflies.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Easy

      It's exactly what it looks like: you just stop. That's it, nothing more. That's what all the evidence is, and everything else is just imagination and wishful thinking.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      Nothing. Your brain will stop working, and your consciousness will cease. Get over it.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • End Religion

      Personally, I'm holding out for "looking at clouds'" answer. But I am partial to sparkles.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  4. John the baptist

    Sorry Billy, It's a dark day when you invite a spokesman into your home that is a self declared priest in a cult and change your position of 75 years on Cults. Mormonism is a cult, Please reconsider your position and declare the truth, Jesus only.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      Proof Every Christian Goes to Hell by End Religion
      1) The only irredeemable sin against your Lord thy God is denying him, the Holy Spirit
      2) To deny is to refuse to admit truth of or to refuse to give that which is requested
      3) Any sin is to deny god of his commandments
      4) Therefore, even one sin results in a soul that cannot be forgiven. Sin once, and you're going to hell whether you repent or not. Since Christians are "born into sin" they're automagically damned to hell and cannot be forgiven.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • P. O. Carl

      If you are a christian, then either the authority that Jesus had stayed here after he died, and that authority would still be in the Catholic church. Or it was removed from the earth with the death of the apostles, and then was restored at some point. The Mormons believe that it was restored. There are only two possible christian churches available.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      The only truth. Jesus is dead.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • End Religion

      with regard to religion there is a 3rd, more distinct possibility: it's all bullshit.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Abinadi

      @john? Maybe Mr. Graham finally realized that saying the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a cult is a bunch of baloney! 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 17, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Abinadi, it's more serious than you realize:

      Under Dissociative Disorders (proposed) in DSM-V:

      Identity disturbance in individuals who have been subjected to periods of prolonged and intense coercive persuasion (e.g., brainwashing, thought reform, indoctrination while captive, torture, long-term political imprisonment, or recruitment by sects/cults, or terror organizations).

      October 17, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Abinadi

      Chuckle. Aw Tommy, such an immagination!

      October 17, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  5. erik

    Well all I can say of this was Billy Graham's decision his days on earth are coming to a quick end, maybe within the next year. God is not happy at all about this.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • End Religion

      lol, and you are somehow privy to god's feelings...? Feeling especially arrogant today?

      October 16, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      If God got mad, it means he is not eternal. You are SO dumb, you don't even know what those words mean.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • David

      You somehow, miraculously, know the Mind of God? Oh joy! The Second Coming is at hand!!!! Tell me, how often does he personally appear to you as a burning bush, pillar of flame, pillar of smoke, etc., to speak to you and only you, to give you the right to say "God is not happy." Where is the fire and brimstone, the mass executions he is so well known for committing when he is angered? Oh right, he's mellowed out in his old age and is now a god of peace and love. Must have discovered some good weed up there in heaven.

      Had he been interested in becoming the 'god' of all humanity, since we are all his children (right?) why didn't he appear to all cultures, instead of only to some otherwise insignificant middle-eastern tribal culture? Only one branch of humanity was worthy to spread the message to directly? Then I'd have to call him a racist, when a large majority of his 'offspring' are not even considered worthy of saving.

      But wait - he did send his message to another group. A group of searchers in the American mid-west, who heard a newer message, and have followed it with devotion and conviction ever since. A new religion, based on post-biblical revelations, perhaps given to a more worthy group of followers.

      Is their claim to their religion any less valid than yours? An incarnation of the Holy Spirit, first revealed to the Hebrews, then to the later Christians, and then to the Mohammadens, and then to the Latter-Day Christians. And then to the followers of Jim Jones. And then to the followers of David Koresh. Or maybe to the Reverend Moon. All the evidence is right there along with yours - that is, none at all.

      You discredit those who do not follow your beliefs, but why do you believe that the message you heard (from the time that it was given to your precedents) is the message to be followed now and not some later message given to others? Couldn't that newer message be the one you should be following instead?

      WHO ARE YOU TO DOUBT THE MESSAGE OF GOD???

      This message has evolved. Why haven't you?

      Oh right, 'evolution'... it just doesn't happen. But try telling that to bacteria, and every other life form to develop on this planet since then. REASON – an extinction-level-event that will slowly eradicate your religious nonsense. The sooner, the better.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  6. polycarp pio

    Cult is a good thing, it means outside the bounds of the accepted norms. We need cult christians who dont abide by the dead, wet noodle,dishwater Christianity of modern man, we need BOOK OF ACTS , Christians. Remember when the Church first began it was also refered to as a CULT. AMEN PP

    October 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • End Religion

      yes, please get crazier. People can't leave christianity fast enough due to the nutters. Get batshit crazy so it all collapses faster. Please do this.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      Yes, and remained so, for centuries. And in fact still is.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  7. erik

    Hell is real, it is reserved for the wicked!

    October 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Kire

      Munchkinland is real. It is reserved for the short.

      What, you are atheistic about munchkins?

      October 16, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Athy

      So you believe that fable that you were dunned with in Sunday school? Pathetic. And you call yourself educated?

      October 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • End Religion

      Will Pete's Wicked Ale be available in this purported hell?

      October 16, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Yup

      Actually, Flying Spaghetti Monster's hell has strippers and a beer volcano, just like his heaven. Only the beer is stale and the strippers have diseases . . . which really should matter as they cant kill you once you're dead.

      I wonder how Loving Jesus's Concentration Camp Hell is going to hurt when you don't have a body, and thus don't have any sense of pain. I mean, is it really just a cool light show for our party?

      October 17, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      There is no hell. The Sheol of the Old Testament was changed in the New Testament to be Gehenna, which is the trash dump fire which burned outside Jerusalem. Jeebus never said anything about hell. You delight in other people's suffering. You are a self-righteous Sadist.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  8. Guest for the moment

    Maybe the Mormons can dress up like Indians and instead of murdering settlers go after Democrats.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Your moment is over

      When they are done murdering the conservatives hopes for the presidency, then they can go murder the people who insult them the most: Christians.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  9. mhklein

    I always thought a cult was a religious group that tried to reinforce its beliefs by cutting off contact with the outside world. When one cannot measure beliefs against an outside standard, any belief is possible.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • P. O. Carl

      Good observation.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • End Religion

      klein, there is very little distinction between cult and religion. Generally, a cult worships a person as a god, whereas a religion worships a supernatural god. However it is then argued from one belief to another why one's brand of belief is not a cult. As it is used today, generally, 'cult' is used to disparage while 'religion' is applied out of consideration. But it is all the same fraud.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  10. WillieLove

    wow, what a lie. Billy has been lying to people all over the world. He is a pawn. Mormonism is a cult and nothing to do with the bible. the end is in sight...

    October 16, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  11. Eroc

    A perfect example of where Graham and all of the Religious Right hold their faith and integrity...in their wallets. Sold to the highest bidder.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  12. polycarp pio

    To make it to the kingdom of heaven you must believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God come in the flesh, to be a christian you must act like and do the works of Christ. I see very few "Christians" in the world today and many believers. PP

    October 16, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • End Religion

      Mankind's entire pantheon of gods, including Jesus and the Abrahamic god, never existed. All religion is a fraud. Calling beliefs "unaffiliated spirituality" or other hogwash, while still holding out for some sort of pseudo-christian being or afterlife, does not help one dodge this bullet. If you suffer from a brand of the delusion that holds any of it as "reality", it is no less crazy than any other.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  13. My reality is crumbling!

    So Mormons are christians now?

    October 16, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • If Christianity was your "reality," then you have no reality

      Mormons are now Christians if they can win elections. If they lose, they are cultists. IF they don't obey in office, then they are cultists. Everytime they make a mistake in office, they are cultists.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • End Religion

      We're all atheists.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  14. Really now, just how godly can a guy be who has pretty much said "screw the poor"

    November 7 is going to be hilarious! Utah will go into a stupor as they realize their prayers didn't work and their god and angels don't help and America would rather have a guy the mormons wouldn't let in the building 40 years ago than have the corporate raider in magic undies.

    Even the senate is going to stay Democrat.

    Limbaugh better stock up on his happy pills to get him through this, and Glen Beck hasn't had a good cry in at least a week.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • End Religion

      Unfortunately you know as well as me they have that game down cold. A loss will only mean people practiced free will and god works in mysterious ways.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Yup

      Yeah, you're right. They will point to some inscutible part of Revelation or The Book Of Larry or something, and say that this is part of a prophecy that is almost fulfilled, been almost fulfilled for 2,000 years, almost, just cusping, wait for it . . . . waiting . . . definitely going to maybe happen . . . end times still, right on the edge . . . send us cash . . . yes, doom and rapture soon . . . send more cash . . .

      October 16, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • End Religion

      You know them well, Grasshopper.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  15. Dave

    Yes, Mormonism is a cult.

    But I'm pretty sure this is mostly the work of Billy's son, Franklin. Billy became political once in his ministry, and always regretted it. Billy's son is putting words in his father's mouth again (just like in the North Carolina Amendment 1 instance).

    October 16, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  16. vwman

    It is so sad to see Billy Graham allow himself to be a photo op for Romney in an attempt to convince evangelicals that Mormons are not members of a cult.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • End Religion

      Don't be too hard on the old man. He was likely tied to a hand cart and wheeled out under the influence of depressants. He probably thought he was in Heaven and didn't even realize it was a photo op.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • WillieLove

      Franklin is a weak person of God. i will not question his call but his actions. baptist people need to wake up! also, stop the evil men who pre y on kids in the baptist church.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  17. Realist

    So the generic-Christian cult previously identified the Mormon cult as a cult.. but now since the generic-Christian cult wants a cult-Mormon to be President, they no longer think Mormonism is a cult. Ummm. Yeah. That's not transparent at all.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  18. End Religion

    Where can I learn more about this LSD Church?

    October 16, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • manon

      You can learn more at http://www.mormon.org

      October 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • P. O. Carl

      http://www.lds.org should be a good place to start.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • End Religion

      Thanks but I must have gotten the letters confused. I asked about the LSD Church. I am looking for some lysergic acid diethylamide and you folks sent me to these weird sites where a crazy cult of people believe they will become gods after death, run their own planets, and they have to wear special underwear? Apparently their church was founded by a known con man who perpetrated yet another con on all these gullible "followers" by pretending to find some plates in the ground or something, then claiming the age-old "I was visited by an angel".

      That's way too fantastical for me. Just give me a good ol' acid trip, please.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Geff

      Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:37 am |
  19. clay

    If you sell out at a little enticement like this, how will you endure real tribulations? Has it been talks only all these years?

    October 16, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  20. Guest for the moment

    All of these comments is why I choose He'll.

    October 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • erik

      My friend, you really don't want hell.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Athy

      I want hell! Give me hell! Bring it on! I dare you to send me to hell!

      October 16, 2012 at 11:51 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.