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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. End Religion

    Billy Graham is an old white guy - does this make him a Graham Cracker? Does he taste better if he has chocolate and marshmallow sandwiched in between him and his son, the second Graham Cracker? Since Romney is involved, should this meeting have been called "A Meeting of S'mormons"? If there was a hell, they'd surely be roasted in it until they had melted ever so lightly, with the marshmallow toasted brown.... mmmm.....

    October 17, 2012 at 2:05 am |
  2. Sean

    It's funny what a visit and kissing the ministers ring changes, besides being White!

    October 17, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • sam stone

      Right, it was the ring he kissed.....

      October 17, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  3. Chris33

    Wall Street destroyed the world economy in 2008 with a derivatives Ponzi scheme. Now Republicans want to put a Wall Street thief in the White House. Do they really think we are that stupid?

    October 17, 2012 at 1:43 am |
  4. Geoff

    I wish men of God would not publicly engage in politics. It's disheartening that someone such as Billy Graham would do this, and go so far as to compromise his own beliefs to support Romney. Very sad. Penguins would never compromise their belief in God for the sake of supporting a political figure.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:35 am |
  5. Hey - let's have a KING rule over both the Mormons and the Evangelicals!

    October 17, 2012 at 1:33 am |
  6. AquinasMil

    ROMNEY to me maybe a Mormon, but his values & proven record, do not go against Christian principles, as opposed to Obama who claims to be a Christian but his record prove otherwise... NO TO PRO ABORTION CANDIDATE, NO TO PRO MURDER OF INNOCENT HUMAN BEINGS... YESSSSS ROMNEY ROCKS!

    October 17, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Scowl

      Please, for everyone else's sanity do us all a favor by shutting up and throwing your computer in the garbage. You are nothing more than a caricature, a living breathing joke and you have nothing relevant to add to any conversation. Keep your opinions and your asinine religion to yourself.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Christian

      You are so very very wrong!! Mitt Romney is Not a Christian!! His "values and record" are diametrically opposed to Christ's teachings!! His church is a church of Satan's! He believes he will one day replace God!! This man is a power-mad and wickedly greedy shyster!! Whereas Mr. Obama is a true Christian!!
      I am voting for the only Christian candidate! I am voting for President Obama!!

      Join me my fellow Christians by renouncing this man and his satanical ways!!
      Do Not fall prey to his cunningly made lies and deceit. He will lead this great nation away from God and deliver it unto Satan!!

      Lord, have mercy on us for having even entertained the idea of having this man as our leader!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • Christian

      Mitt Romney PROFITS from abortions!!!!!!!
      He is invested in companies that PROFIT from abortions!!!!!!

      Please stop this madness!! Mitt Romney is NOT a Christian!!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Charles E. Rutledge

      The President cleaned Old Rommey's clock tonite in the debate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OBAMA, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 MO YYEEAAHHSS!!!!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • db

      What is this obsession with fetuses? If you think abortion is wrong, don't have one. Furthermore, the Bible says all children go straight to Heaven and live on clouds with Jesus... so why are you weirdos so worried about these fetuses of absolute strangers? Do you think they are clogging up Heaven and there will be no room for YOU?

      October 17, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • End Religion

      I will officially be naming my next band Fetus Clog.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • 2020

      Romney is a pathetic liar, punishable sin. Romney buying his sainthood with money.

      Morman does not believe salvation thru Jersus blood shed for us.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:20 am |
  7. JohnB

    What a sellout. As long as I can remember Billy Graham and company have had nothing good to say about Mormonism. Now after a visit with a Mormon presidential candidate they scrub their website of references to Mormonism being a cult? Romney must have promised them something really special for them to suddenly erase history and rewrite it. Guess those values are not timeless after all.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • Christian

      The only thing that makes sense is that he has been duped and/or lied to!
      If he has indeed done this, he will answer to God for it!

      Either way, I reject it and I ask all other Christians to do the same.
      Mitt Romney is NOT a Christian. No mormon is a Christian!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • LinSea

      @Christian, I'm just curious –do you have any idea what the real name of the Mormon church is? I'll give you a hint, the word 'Mormon' is not a part of the church's actual name, but the name of whom we worship IS in the church's actual name.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:28 am |
  8. robert

    Interesting reading. All of a sudden Billy Graham decides he was wrong about the mormons. So what else is he wrong about ?. Threee weeks before the election he comes to this conclusion. What a hippocrite.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  9. Christian

    I cannot believe Billy Graham has done this! And he and those around him who supported this will surely answer to God for it! But, I for one will Not betray my beliefs and take them off of my list! I am voting for the only christian candidate! I am voting for Mr. Obama!!

    October 17, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Dippy

      It's "not", not "Not". Ha.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Christian

      @Dippy (You have an appropriate name!)

      I capitalized that word so as to emphasize it!!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • random1

      How can you vote for someone who is indirectly responsible for murder. I hate how people say im voting for the christain. Christ said to love your neighbor and enemy. Anyone involved in war directly or indirectly cannot then call themselves a christain!! Why is this so hard to understand?

      October 17, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • End Religion

      More exclamation marks please. We cannot tell if you're really serious unless each sentence has at least 5 or 6.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:10 am |
  10. Ed

    We need more Billy Grahams in this world. he has been a boon to the USA and a constant we have loved & respected for decades. The Mormon religion is like an musician playing a different instrument & the end result is always a song.. I went to a local Mormon church in the very late 90's and they preach from the Baptist Bible and it was quite an informative few weeks and for one who was looking for something I definitely picked up a few vital bits of information that wouldn't have been known by not being there. It's a religion that partakes in constructive activities even if some may seem bizarre..

    October 17, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • Athy

      What were these "vital pieces of information" you picked up?

      October 17, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Christian

      Mormons are Not Christians.
      Mitt Romney believes he will be God!!
      It is an abomination! And blasphemy!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Andrea

      I, totally, agree with you Chrisitian! Romney has no business being in politics! He is, just, showing the world Mormons are nothing but liars! Of course, he's NOT a Christian. He doesn't know the meaning of that word! He has a very evil look about him, especially, when he grins! And I use to like Billy. I guess he can't help it, he is senile in his older years!

      October 17, 2012 at 2:58 am |
  11. ThinkingMan

    It's still a cult.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  12. diane

    Amazing, Romney kissed the ring and now Mormonism is okay as if Billy Graham is some authority. I am tired of religious leaders who put themselves on a pedestal and deem what is proper or good or holy and what isn't as if they are God.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      Well apparently YOU think YOU know the mind of god.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • Roger

      She didn't claim anything.....troll!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      She did. She implied she had more authority than Graham.
      Troll.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  13. Bostontola

    When was the last time Graham supported a Democrat. It's not racism, religious zealots support Republicans. I guess Democrats can be just as dull as Republicans.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  14. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    Only by Christianity absurdity of a Christian, hindu and pagan. Filthy Christian Captain Crunch dog. Filthy pagan hindu pig dog. Filthy Randy Jackson dog. Filthy hebrew national beef dog. Filthy Ron Jeremy foot-long dog. NO DOGS!! Who let them be out? Quran means nothing else but path of triple abdullah absolute quantified. please visit ahmadinebinpaid.com/blog.html and click on word Choice to open file. But turn virus protection off before

    October 17, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  15. PurpleStikyPunch

    Romney and Obama are just chums in the same wealthy "elite" club, and both plutocrats. How can you support Romney OR Obama when both men are rich because of the very presence of class warfare? When both men directly benefit from social inequality, what person with half a mind of their own could rationally believe that they would change that social inequality and dampen their own aristocratic lifestyle? Dems and Republicans alike need to recognize the non-existent divide between the party leaders and realize that it's not one party that's right and another that's wrong, but that they are equally destructive because their leaders are equally selfish and malevolent. This country sucks because of it's brainwashed, party supporting citizens. Stop treating your political party like you're own personal, infallible religion. It's corrupt and dirty BECAUSE it's politics. Wake up or watch ALL super-rich candidates continue to subvert the public they've so successfully duped.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • ms

      That's exactly right. Both parties have their own agenda that only serves to divide this country. It's a two party dictatorship. Normally intelligent people have turned into name calling 5 year olds. I'm just ready for it to be over.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  16. Joe

    So, Mormons are not a cult only because Billy Graham says so. To me Billy Graham is a cult too.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • f4xtrafn

      Of course he is. As are all the other evangelical super churches with their screaming adulterous preachers. Just shows Graham's insincerity. But then, Graham's a buddy millionaire so he's just supporting one of his own anyway.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Christian

      I think Billy has either gone senile and was duped! Or Romney had lied to him!
      This man is Not a Christian. He believes in a god who lives on planet Kolob!
      And, he believes he will become God and supplant God when he dies!
      It is an abomination and blasphemy!!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  17. AuntySocial

    I remember when I accepted a few visits from a couple of Mormon missionaries. The first visit they talked about Joseph Smith and how he didn't know which denomination to belong to so he prayed on it. The supposed answer was that they were all false. One thing I know about cults is that they say they are the one and only true way. They believe that the Baptists, Methodists, Episcopals, Presbyterians, Catholics, etc... are all false. They teach that. I haven't been to too many churches in my time, but the Mormons are the only one that I know of that say that.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Ron Yorgason

      You might be surprised, because the Mormons have one of the most open theologies of who goes to heaven. In the catholic church, if you're not baptized before you die, you can't make it. Even babies that die at infancy, it's too late for them. Other churches are a little more open, maybe just say a prayer and accept Jesus. I'm not sure what they say about babies who die, but what about all the people in all the world who have ever lived, who have never heard of Jesus? What will happen to them? Mormons believe everyone will have an opportunity to learn and accept Jesus. They also believe baptism is a requirement to go into heaven. They believe people can still learn about Jesus after death & before judgement and get an opportunity, so they do baptisms here for them. I don't know of any other religion that has such an open theology of who may be saved.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Christian

      They claim to be "Christians" but it is an abominable lie!
      They have absolutely Nothing to do with Christ!
      They teach that Satan and Christ are brothers!
      They teach that God lives on a planet named Kolob!
      They teach that they too will be just like God when they die!
      Mitt Romney is in league with S a t a n ! ! ! !

      I am voting for the Christian candidate! The one who has acted most Christ-like!
      I am voting for President Obama and Joe Biden!! I believe they are the answer! Not Mormons!
      WHAT HAS THIS COUNTRY COME TO?? Lord, have mercy on us!!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • Jknows

      @Ron Yorgason can you explain the reasoning & logic behind the Mormon practice of Baptizing the Dead? Did a family member ask you to perform this ritual or did the deceased ask you to?.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • LinSea

      @Christian, as a Mormon, I absolutely believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, and I have faith in, worship and love Him as my Savior. You have some inaccurate information and misunderstandings about us, but please understand this: Everything I believe in revolves around Jesus Christ and my faith that because of His sacrifice for us and His love and grace, we can be forgiven of our sins and saved.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:03 am |
  18. Karl

    LOL... Fail! Nevermind the 2/3 of the worlds population that are apparently going to burn because they're not Christian, and or do not accept Christ as their savior. Sorry Bob Marley, Mahatma Gandhi, and many other peaceful, spiritual loving individuals; I guess you didn't make the cut. I guess you are "God's favorite people"

    Christians are so far out of touch with reality, it's disgusting. I guess we are supposed to forget the fact that Christianity and thr bible are just a bunch of stolen, rehashed versions of ancient civilizations such as Sumerian, Babylonian, Egyptian, etc. Even Christ is a stolen story from other solar messiahs: Horus, Krishna, Dionysus, Mithra, etc... It's all Pagan people. It's all in relation to astrology (the Sun of God) Underneath every Christian, is a Pagan. If they knew anything about religious history they would know these things. Oh and by the way, we want our holidays back!

    October 17, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      Yup. Even "salvation" is a "goof", built on the "sin" in the Garden Myth, which was taken from the Sumerian Choas myth.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  19. myway

    Is that how Graham wants to end his career, being known as the guy who broke Christian ranks to help KO Obama? I guess racism trumps puritanical thinking. If Mormonism is OK, why not recognize Coptics, Gnostics, Jews and Islamists as equals to American Christians? They're far less bizarre than the Mormons. Why stop there? Throw in the Church of Scientology giving the Christian right a badly needed path to the Hollywood elite.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Jesus is Dead.

      Why not. They are all delusions.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Christian

      I think Billy Graham was either duped or lied to! I think he was taken advantage of!
      But, if he did indeed knowingly betray his beliefs that does NOT mean that other Christians must do the same!
      If guilty of this woesome assertion, he will answer to God for it!!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:33 am |
  20. Brian

    Graham is a professional sycophant. He even curried favor with Nixon and was recorded making anti-Semitic remarks in Nixon's notorious tapes.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Mosesthejew

      right on the money. Seems in today's World it is difficult to see beyond the nose on our face.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:04 am |
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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.