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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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 17, 2012 at 4:36 am |
    • Dorothy

      apparently so do snake oil salesmen.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • nope

      @dor...
      nope

      October 17, 2012 at 4:42 am |
    • Dr. Zeus's "Green Eggs and Thor"

      Nope is Pope of dopes on a rope. Nope cannot cope, truth makes Nope mope.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:49 am |
  2. Michael C

    So I guess Mornonism is a cult that Rev. Billy won't mention until he's gotten the black man out of the White House.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:31 am |
  3. Dorothy

    Billy Graham is no different than any of the other preachers.....they are more than happy to modify their message to meet their political or social agenda. Mr. Graham did not have a revelation about the mormon faith.....it is just no longer politically expedient for him to have his previous view. He has just proven that he preaches what is expedient to him personally....nothing more and nothing less.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:25 am |
  4. Mary

    I was undecided because I didn't like either candidate. I was troubled to see what appeared to be an endorsement for Romney by BGGM. Then I went to this website to see for myself if that is the case. I'm glad to see that it isn't an endorsement but a closer look at a Presidential candidate, by Billy himself. All this only causes me to further believe that only I am responsible for who I will eventually choose to vote for. Don't hate, get informed, and make your own choice. I will never be a partisan voter and I need to think for myself. Look not to Man because he will fail you. God never will. Thank you Billy Graham for praying for us.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:24 am |
    • sam stone

      mary: thank billy boy for praying for us? do you think he has god's ear more than anyone else?

      October 17, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  5. Bootyfunk

    lol. ALL religions are cults. when cults are accepted by society, they are called religions. when there are no more followers of said religion, it becomes a mythology. christianity is on it's way to step 3.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:09 am |
    • Yuppers

      A religion is just a cult that went big-time. Had David Koresh's group kept it together a while longer, it would have taken the patina of legitimacy as well. Had it survived a century, it would be full-blown legit. Scientology will reach that status eventually.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:18 am |
  6. Kurt

    I used to have a good deal of respect for Billy Graham and believe he's done a lot of good in his life, but when he turns his supoport for a cult that belives that God lives on the planet Kolob, and someday he will be a god with his own planet
    if he has enough children, he loses me. There is no way that Mormonism is related to Christianity and it shows by Romney'
    s callous disregard for anyone less privileged than himself.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:07 am |
    • mk

      Right, because Christianity doesn't have any ridiculous ideas.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • LinSea

      Kurt, based on your statement, your understanding of our beliefs is waaayyyy off from what we really believe.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  7. Joe

    Either Billy Graham is senile or he took a LARGE donation from Romney. When your 'god' lives on another planet, it is a CULT...period.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:02 am |
  8. Phazon

    Look it really isn't hard to figure out who is telling the truth and who is lying just look at the facts smart people can believe in evolution all they want but at the end of their lives what do they have forward to look to nothing cause they don't believe in a resurrection. Look in the bible if you do believe there is a God then ask yourself is my faith really in harmony with the bible? There is a very very important scripture in the bible and its by the very last bible writer that said that anyone taking from or adding to the bible will suffer a worse fate. The teaching of a trinity started around 400 CE many years after the final bible writer how can one proclaim to serve God and Jesus when they believe in these non scriptural teachings? Look in the bible see if you can find verses that say God and Jesus and the holy spirit are all one or three separate beings? You cannot find it the bible clearly states that God used his holy spirit ok his holy spirit obviously thats an extension of him like maybe thats what he calls his strength or his active force? God said I give my on begotten son therefor Jesus is Gods son his first creation his first born son. Through Jesus we have hope in a resurrection why would God send people to earth from heaven so they could die and suffer just to get their again this complete and utter lie paints God as cruel and the bible tells a very different story on why we suffer and what he truly wants for mankind. They have used their religions for thousands of years for excuses of racism and wars and theft now ask yourselves is this what Jesus taught is this what the bible teaches no it doesn't always remember before believing in a religion that claims to follow Jesus ask yourself do they really do and act like Jesus now some of these people may honestly have good intensions and truly want to serve God but they must above all else put the bible to the test and question their own faiths one will never find the truth unless they start looking for it.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:48 am |
    • Phazon

      Many many grammar errors typing on iPad sorry grammar polices please don't give me a ticket.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:51 am |
    • Christians can't face facts or take responsibility

      Grammar is the least of your problems, and your iPad isn't responsible for your failures.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:15 am |
  9. Mtheumer

    I guess Billy got inline.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:43 am |
  10. Jackie

    And I quote, "A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviates from the biblical message..."
    I'm sure he must be in this catagory because I have not found anywhere in the bible where Jesus or his disciples mixed
    politics and religion. Jesus said that his true followers would be "no part of the world." (John 15:19; 17:14) Jesus refused to
    get involved in the political affairs of his day.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:20 am |
    • Phazon

      You are one hundred percent correct give unto Caesar that which is his and give unto God what is his.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:53 am |
    • gdf

      He prays with the Presidents. So what? How's that getting involved with politics? He hasn't to my knowledge instructed people who to vote for, only said to pray for the leaders (which the Bible does say to do). He's not involved with politics, he's involved with people. There's a big difference. According to the Bible, Jesus talked with the King and with the Roman Governor. Uh-oh, according to your reasoning, he was involved with politics.

      Furthermore, you should probably start off by saying, "The Bible says in ___ that it's wrong (or a sin) to be involved with politics", at least before you criticize another. Jesus wore sandals and washed people's feet, does that mean it's wrong or sinful to not do that?

      October 17, 2012 at 3:57 am |
  11. spangler

    The word 'abomination' is used 65 times in the OT and 2 times in the NT. The only named abomination in the NT is Luke 16:15 where Jesus calls the love of money an abomination. Many more speeches need to be given about this one.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:19 am |
  12. daniel

    What a fraud of a man..

    October 17, 2012 at 2:52 am |
  13. Phazon

    Suprising to see that Jehovahs witnesses are in this group since everything they teach is straight from the bible teachings like hell and deliverance from grace alone are not teachings of the bible mister Grahm therefor what you believe is a cult. Jehovahs witnesses will be the ones to actually have a bible handy and nobody and I mean nobody can refute them using the bible and they know this thats why they have videos warning people to stay away from them because if people would actually hear them out for 5 minutes with an open mind they would realize that their church leaders are lieing to them for money and by they way Mr Grahm how much does your orinization charge for bibles and literature? Witneses charge zero and always remember they use Gods name and you dont you just call him God or lord their are many Gods and Many lords but their is only 1 Jehovah and I'm am 100% sure he doesn't appreciate you calling his servants those who teach others about who God is and what his plans are all you guys seem to do is say God hates people but the bible says differently we will see though how much of a cult they are when false religion is done away with.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:51 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I like Jehova's Witnesses. One summer morning, around seven, I was awakened by a knock on my door. My wife and I woke up to find some JWs on my front porch. I took my pump shotgun to the door, gave it a good racking, and amazingly, they left. In fact the Old Lady beat the younger ones to the car and was ready to roll. I know it was rough, but hey, it was Saturday and I wanted to sleep in...

      October 17, 2012 at 2:55 am |
    • Mark John

      Jehovah Witness came to my door and told me Jesus is not God but an angel.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:50 am |
    • Phazon

      Any one would run from someone with a shot gun remember though they wouldn't turn a shotgun on you.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • Morgan

      I feel impressed to inform you that the JW teachings deviate from the King James in several ways. They teach that Jesus has already come back to earth and only a few are aware of it. The bible teaches EVERY eye will see him. They teach every SPIRITUAL eye sees him. They also teach contrary to 1thess. 4:17, and Rev. 21:1.

      Even so, I don't call them a cult. They are an organized religion as such.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:09 am |
    • Quark

      Jehovah's Witnesses = Bible Trekkies

      October 17, 2012 at 4:11 am |
  14. Adam

    Give the old man cookies and soft drinks to get his favor! How sad of you Romney, using cookies and soft drinks to lure the very old into your corner. President Obama, get your FL surrogates to get those old timers some cookies and soft drinks and you win FL by a landslide, don't let Romney beat you to it!

    October 17, 2012 at 2:50 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I Like Cookies and Soda! I'll vote for Obama if he gives me some cookies, but I want the ones from seven-eleven.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:52 am |
  15. Don

    Please- this is an appeal to all Americans concerned about the upcoming election.
    Go to your search engine and look up 'Romney Investments'.
    Type those 2 words.
    See what you find.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I don't need to do that, I just watched a debate that showed me the guy is a slimeball and is about as prepared to be President as Goofy from Disney.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:50 am |
  16. Ricardo Martinez

    Jolsteen, Graham and persons like these, are the worst example of the freedom to express yourself, but they can be bought, why would they talk to a Cult if they think it is a Cult. like talking to a pure racist about equality for all, including those that are below them. The representatives of some churches can be bought, Good honest Jol and Billy. Vendidos.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:45 am |
  17. Curtis

    Organized religions and those who head it are the greatest evil and threat mankind has ever had to deal with. Now they are political and should lose the tax-free status. Sic'em IRS and bring them all to their financial knees.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:31 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I totally agree, imagine the amount of revenue that the federal government could raise by taxing the Catholic and the Mormon Churches alone.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:36 am |
  18. Cathy

    Billy Graham used to be a principled minister, since his wacko birther son Franklin took over his ministry has become a hollow shell of right wing propoganda.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Epidi

      I couldn't agree more. I am Pagan but I always had respect for Mr. B Graham – he genuinly seemed to love people. His son gives me a most uneasy feeling.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:14 am |
  19. spangler

    Traditional Biblical marriage? The OT sees polygamy as the ideal marriage model. The deity rewarded the faithful with many wives, concubines and children. Solomon (author of Proverbs) for example, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. The NT sees celebicy as the ideal and, if the weak must get married, have as little romance as possible.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • Betty Does It Better!

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkeKKszXTw&w=640&h=390]

      October 17, 2012 at 3:23 am |
    • Nii

      SPANGLER
      I think I will come right out and call you a LIAR. Polygamy was actually forbidden Kings of Israel in the Law as it was felt too many wives will restrict their thinking about God. Paul actually said married couples should have se.x as much as possible only stopping with mutual consent to fast and pray. Where did you get all that BS from.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:20 am |
  20. Incontinentia Buttocks

    Mitt wiped out in the Big Surfing Contest tonight. Tubed.

    For the next debate, how about they just have the presidential and veep candidates get go for an ultimate fighting cage match. Biden would have it over before Obama got out of his robe . . .

    October 17, 2012 at 2:12 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.