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.
Who gave Billy Graham the authority to define who is and isn't a cult in the first place? Can I just put up my own website and define whatever I want on it? Is that how this works?
He got it , while high on cannabis like Paul, way of bum's to have revaluation's.
Hey knucklehead Tyler,
No one said he is the authority. He is just giving his opnion. If you want to put a website up and say anything your knucklehead mind want to say, go ahead. That is what is great about this country. If you think Billy Graham is the authority then you are a bigger knucklehead than we all first thought. Mr. graham would be the first to tell you is is not the authority on this issue. God is. You don't like it then bring it up to Him. You want to start your own cult, then you answer for it, knucklehead.
He just took it off of his web page, you have to do your discernment. If you read the bible, then look to see what it says, then you do what is in your heart. I am not mormon, but I have met many mormons and I must tell you they are the nicest and most generous people I have ever met. I am a christian, and I know christians, and you know what, christians did not come across as nice or generous. I still believe that Jesus is Lord and christians are people and people are what is flawed, not Jesus.
Remember, the Repub party is ruled by 'born agains'. Someone like Willy Billy carries a lot of weight in their vote.
The surviving Mayan Native Americans would like to have their history back please, Mr. Romney. The church can't find the ruins of the Laminites, and Nephites in Missouri, or upstate New York, and so now this cult, with their fictional "scripture" with no regard for the truth, has decided to rewrite these poor people's history instead (explain to me, Billy Graham, when you decided to stop looking for truth!)
Tell us anything...make it all up! That is EXACTLY what a cult does.
It is funny, when it comes to power over the people religions and there difference suddenly come together. Up until this point christians called Mormons a cult. That would imply they are in legue with the devil. Now suddenly they are on the same side ? Exactly how is this gap in fundimental difference bridged so quickly ?
uple folks call it hypocrisy... these guys would make a pact with the devil to get abck into power...
You are so right. These folk don't know what they believe in.
Billy Grahm is now a right wing puppet.......SAD.... but god still loves him....
It's so cute. The Grahams think they can hide what they've said and what they've written and what they continue to believe. I wonder, do they think they can hide this from their god or are they ever-so sure that this god agrees with them and are only doing this for political reasons?
Pity that so many conservative theists can't recall that the internet is also largely a recording medium and things can't magically be hidden "under a bushel" when convenient.
this from the article above ""Mr. Graham’s calling is not to pass judgment, but to proclaim the biblical truth that Jesus is the only way to heaven" – well tell me something all you right wing nut jobs – WHY ARE YOU SO INTENT on judging and controlling on social issues????
what a bunch of malarky
Indeed. They want to play pretend that some magical god is telling them what to say, but all they do is try to gain as much worldly power as possible for themselves, depending on fear and greed to do so.
TAX THE POLITICAL CHURCH!!!!!!
The Mormon Church as well Aa the Jehovah Witnesses were declared a sects or cults by the Catholic Church for many reasons but ofcourse the right wing Evangelicals will do anything to lure the ignorant foolish and uneducated fanatics many racists to vote against the DEM party..they r all sheep going to their own slaughter..so pathetic. i'm still shocked that a Mormon full of so much anti-American values even became a presidential candidate.
So just because the Catholic Church named them a cult it is true? I think the Catholic church has quite a history of misinformation, so they probably aren't the most reliable source. The definition of Christianity is to believe in Christ and the New testament, which Mormons believe in.......that sounds pretty Christian to me.
@John-I happen to be a Catholic and my church can trace her roots all the way back to the time of Christ. Please enlighten me as to what this misinformation is that you talk about. The founder of the Mormon Church is Joseph Smith. The founder of MY church is Jesus Christ Himself! You do not have any understanding of what being a Christian is, because if you did, you couldn't in good conscience call the Mormon church a Christian church!
One cult supporting another cult... for now. They both support "holy wars" and both have sons who never served. How GULLIBLE ARE people?
typical way of hindu sanatan's, criminal goons.
Exactly..they love wars they do not participate physically in..Pat Robertson said to arm the African tribes so they can kill each other..a false Christian he is...true Christians seek peace and care for all.
"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..." – except gays
"Mr. Graham’s calling is not to pass judgment..." – except on gays and their right to marriage
What a load of bull. Shame on you, Mr. Graham.
No, he has love, submission for his hindu soul, filthy desire, none else.
poor "hindu atheist" guy is off his meds again. NIce to see more of your lies.
"Well, I(Billy) talked to Mr. Romney, and he assured us that he'd reverse Roe V. Wade, continue discrimintory policies for LGTB citizens and create more, and bomb as many brown people and Muslims as possible, so I told him I'd remove his cul....er..religion from our list."
Hey Billy ... Jehovah's Witnesses are the ONLY Christians who believe ONLY in the Bible and not man-made doctrines. Yours is a PERSONALTY CULT! Wake up and repent, buddy!
yay! theists who have no evidence for their claim now hating on each other for it. I'm still waiting for theists who are so sure that they and they are the only right ones to be able to show it. Healings of veterans hurt by IEDs? How about food for the hungry magically appearing? But alas, you all fail miserably and what's worse, you would kill each other over which of your imaginary friends are the "bestest".
That statement is laughable. The Jehovah's are the ONLY Christians who believe ONLY in the bible? For one, they aren't anymore Christian than Mormons are. Secondly the ONLY thing JW's do with the bible, is twist it to fit their daily needs! Give me a break!
Nothing more perverted and evil than religion – nothing. Of course – irrational belief systems allow for anything, because there are no logical constraints. In the end, a few religious people profit, receiving a great deal of money and power, and everyone else is a dumb schmuck. Religion is very close to political ideology – almost a twin.
Hey Billy ... Jehovah's Witnesses aere the ONLY Christians who believe ONLY in the Bible and nor man-made doctrines. Yours is a PERSONALTY CULT! Wake up and repent, buddy!
The ONLY Christians??? What a joke. Obviously you are JW so that explains the foolishness in your statement. Interesting point about man-made dctrine. Who changed the JW doctrine after the membership numbers exceeded 144,000? Hmm? Hello? Thought so. FOOL
Why don't YOU wake up and stop believing in your imaginary sky daddy!.
So now "Billy" believes that Mormon's do follow"the biblical message of the Christian faith"?
He is a prophet of hindu's, criminals.
once a cult ALWAYS a cult!!!
Now this is a hoot. He must have been carrying the golden tablets in his briefcase.
How sad. I can't tell you how many republicans i've known over the years
who told me that mormonism was a cult and not at all related to Christianity.
That is was a man-made religion. This is what THEY said. They said they
were into some pretty crazy stuff and said to stay away. How conveniently
they seemed to have changed their opinions. I think also if Graham wants to
have such sway over an election–his church needs to begin paying taxes.
It's very easy to have these strong opinons for free. If mormonism was on
his website as a cult it is embarrassing for them that they would take it down NOW.
I will not in the future hold graham with the respect that i did. He totally changed that
Word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Han, great, HUN, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity,
hindu's, deny the truth absolute GOD, essence of every thing and pray to hindu sanatans, filthy goon's, make their statues with clay with their hand's and pray to them as their god's to follow hinduism, racism, a crime against truth absolute GOD and humanity, deserving to be kicked out of humanity to live like their hindu stupid god monkey, they follow to justify hindu, filthy evolution. hindu, ignorant's an insult to be called human, follower of hinduism, racism, borrowed from animals. For truth about hinduism, senial of truth absolute please visit limitisthetrtuh.com
Umm, "hindered" isn't a latin word. Are you sure you don't need to renew your medication?
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.