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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. FloydZepp

    This is just hilarious. Proves my point that "christians" don't worship Jesus, they worship their own politics.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Kerry

      Perhaps some people are like that but don't tar everyone with the same brush. Consider that most of the world's Christians live outside of the USA and most of those are left-leaners who embrace modesty and shun riches.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • rajb

      umm.... You forgot to mention money !!!

      October 17, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  2. James Tallett

    Mormons are not Christians. Mormons are Joseph Smithians.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • LinSea

      Mormons worship Jesus Christ. He is our Savior.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  3. mk

    I always laugh out loud when I hear one religion call another religion a 'cult'.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  4. Larry Cribbs

    Does this mean that Billy Graham accepts the Morman bible and will start quoting from it. Galations 1:8 tells Christians, "that if even we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned."

    October 17, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • LinSea

      The Mormon bible is the King James Version.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  5. IO

    It's just one site out of millions. Everyone else still considers it a cult.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:29 am |
  6. Common Sense

    What do you expect from Billy Graham? He is part of the 1% and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association supports all his children's ministries. Just look at the holdings of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and ask why did they have $38,000,000.00 available to build the museum to Billy Graham. Ask why Mrs. Graham was buried at the museum when she specified she wanted to be buried near her home. It is all about the money.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      1% ??????????? Last I saw, they rode Harleys.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  7. James

    I am a Latter Day saint but I do not see how this event should have anything to do with campaigning to be president. I could Care less if the candidate is a Latter Day Saint, Catholic, Luthern or any other religion for that matter. What matters, will the presidential candidate perform the required duties of the president to his up most obligations that best represents the people of the United States of America!

    October 17, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • JMPotratz

      Just as long as he's not Black, right? It's that Black thing Republicans Really can't stand about Obama. Instead, they call him Kenyan. If religion has nothing to do with your vote choice, then vote for Obama if you're Mormon.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:53 am |
  8. woodin

    All it took was 30 minutes and Romney is no longer part of a cult. You have to wonder just how much it cost Romney and the GOP for the Graham team action.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • shaun Williams

      You must not think very much of Billy Grahm to launch a cheap shot like that, I am sorry that you feel that way, to think that Billy Grahm and his organization could be bought off like that....A cheap shot indeed.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • FloydZepp

      Cheap Shot? Billy Graham sold his soul to the God Politic.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • sam stone

      How was billy boy NOT bought off?

      October 17, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  9. Duh

    POOF is the magical word.

    Divinely inspired, of course.

    October 17, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • saggyroy

      Yep, just make it up, (get divinely inspired) as you go along.

      October 17, 2012 at 6:58 am |
  10. TampaMel

    Every religion is a 'cult' to every other religion,. All religions are cults (definition alert: a cult is ; 'a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object') does this definition sound like your religion?

    October 17, 2012 at 6:27 am |
  11. Whome

    Words from another old man who's time has passed.

    October 17, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • shaun Williams

      I wonder what you have done to impact the world like Billy Grahm has? he may be old but he still has more impact at 93 than you will ever hope to have if you lived to be over 100. I would suggest that you go turn your negative comments into going out and doing something for someone and trying to better your little corner of the world.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:35 am |
  12. Phil the Love

    I guess Billy is "evolving".

    Into what I do not know.

    October 17, 2012 at 6:10 am |
  13. Jo

    Hats off to the LDS "Chur$ch", formally known as the LDS "CULT"! Times do "change", we "change" and "cha$nge", lots and lots of cha$nge can/will cha$nge how and when the Graham Crusade defines a Christian/Chris$tian!

    October 17, 2012 at 6:03 am |
  14. John Smith

    It's so ridiculous how the whole Romney campaign is filled with obviousness and transparency. You would think that with all of the millions of dollars they waste on the campaign, they could hire a good spin doctor!

    October 17, 2012 at 5:49 am |
  15. John Smith

    It sounds to me like a pathetic sell out of one's beliefs for a political agenda!

    October 17, 2012 at 5:44 am |
    • peter

      could not agree more

      October 17, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • saggyroy

      I wonder how much it cost?

      October 17, 2012 at 6:57 am |
  16. SirToYe

    Looks like the Manson family might actually have a chance.

    October 17, 2012 at 5:41 am |
  17. scatheist

    How convenient. Politics and Obama hating trumps religion.

    October 17, 2012 at 5:36 am |
  18. greenaxe

    Grahams opinion on ANYTHING is irrelevant.

    October 17, 2012 at 5:30 am |
    • shaun Williams

      I would suggest you re-think your stupid comment...when this man dies he will be mourned by countless millions of christians all aroud this planet. Here he is at 93 still making headlines and having an important impact on the political and religious stage some 35 plus years after most people have retired. I wonder what kind of an impact your life will count for to this world, probably about as much as if tossed a pebble into the ocean. Talk is cheap, Billy Grahm has had the impact on this world because he is a man of faith and a man of action, something people like you will never hope to achieve.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • george jones

      He will only be morn by ignorant Christians who are easily led astray.

      October 17, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  19. Bart

    Being a Republican and promoting the worship of money is more important than being a Christian promoting the worship of God.

    This is all that is going on here, nothing new.

    October 17, 2012 at 5:16 am |
    • phillydrifter

      Religion has always been a scam. Let me tell you wonderful lies about LATER in exchange for your MONEY, NOW! There is no god. Get over it. You're just not that special. (12 years of catholic school is enough to make any thinking person an atheist.)

      October 17, 2012 at 6:15 am |
  20. MOOOSE

    Congrats to the Mormons, great job. How can I get the followers of Zeus off the cult list? Zeus a semi passive aggressive god who is mis understood by today political correct liberal media. I offer 1,000 golden coins of Apollo, let that work?

    October 17, 2012 at 4:37 am |
    • Dorothy

      Make it politically or financially beneficial to a televangelist and "poof" – they will be off the list.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • midwest rail

      Preferably financially beneficial.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:21 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.