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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. MagicPanties

    So the evangelicals now accept the planet Kolob as a reasonable alternative to the garden of Eden.
    Aliens, snakes, it's all the same.

    This is so funny.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • myway

      Not to mention polygamy. I always believed evangelicals are excessively hypcritical by nature, but this takes the prize. It's so obvious the underlying current driving evangelicals towards Romney is racism. Romney represents the white hope overturning a foreign dynasty. At least that's what they're selling. Not so funny once you think about it in this light.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  2. spangler

    "Did ye not know it is character which is judged and love is never a sin?" HoeMoeErectus 6:9

    October 17, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  3. BurnNotice

    Such a huge pile of steaming waste.

    The two of them deserve each other.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • eddy

      What Obama did was to let Romney spit out all his gadges first and attack on the next two debate; as was in Camelot, King Arthur let French king tell him as how French will invade UK. King Arthur told him that you lost as you told me ALL the secrets. What Americans are desperate like a drowning guy would even try to catch floating straws. What Romney offered is of NO proof as he lost his MA race for re-election. His god is not my God; If Jesus came to N.America after Israel as Mormon says, then Columbus would have discovered all Indians are Christian. Anyway, Romney is a lunatic. Majority of voter is always wrong like election W. Bush; Romney is same rich guy and same GOP. He is an anti-Christ.

      October 17, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      There is NO antichrist because there is no christ... People need to get a grip.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  4. felix el gato

    Politics trumps religion, huh, Billy?

    October 17, 2012 at 8:40 am |
  5. robert flesher

    Thanks Billy for keeping me on my knees. I held you at the hightest level of Gods workers and still do ,but remember the story of Eli. His sons were a failure, To endorse a religion that DOSEN"T believe in the Trinity goes against the Bible ,right?

    October 17, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  6. James

    "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for the rich to enter heaven". The Grahams and other super rich so-called evangelical leaders, have better be prepared for hell.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Slippery bastards, though aren't they? With their ears pinned back they may just make it through the eye of the needle.

      October 17, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  7. Bennycat

    Okay, now that that's out of the way . . . . I don't understand what makes this worth reporting.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    A visit by Tom Cruise is in order. Soft drinks and cookies with Billy Graham and you're in like Flynn.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  9. Mimi millard

    My heart hurts to know that the Billy Graham association has actually become political by removing the truths that Billy Graham had always told people about cults.Any person converted to Mormonism from now will be shown the Billy Graham association statements about this change but as with all new converts the truths will be twisted.I will stand up for my beliefs even though I will now be even more persecuted since people will now say "oh you think you know more than Billy Graham"
    Please put another statement that this is not an endorsement of Mormonism.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Primewonk

      All religious sects and denominations are, by definition, cults.

      October 17, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • TruthandBeauty

      Hey Mimi,
      They are all the same. What's convenient for serving the Money-Oligarchy, they're adaptable.
      And besides, all Christianity is a bogus cult.

      October 17, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • myway

      Graham has made a career being a crony to most presidents since he started his mission. You don't seriously believe there wasn't intense backroom horse trading going on each time Graham endorsed a candidate? Through that process he's been affiliated with politics since the 1950s. No surprise there.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  10. me

    Tell me a religion that ISN'T a cult.....

    October 17, 2012 at 8:25 am |
  11. Boaz

    I am amazed that people still honestly believe the president is a muslim. First let me say I'm not pro or anti Obama. I respect the president of the united states whoever it is. He is our commander and chief. But if you know anything about Islam, no muslim would Ever pretend to be a Christian. Unlike many wavering Christians the muslims stand by what they believe. Now the president claims to be a Christian, and the only way to truly measure that is by his fruit!

    October 17, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Fruit?

      October 17, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • myway

      Don't waste your well intended time taking these haters seriously. They don't really believe the president is a Muslim; they're old fashioned closet racists. Even if Obama was a Muslim, which he obviously isn't, I'd still vote for him instead of the closed minded, flip flopping, elitist Romney. He's a Mormon which is somewhat similar to Islam considering polygamy and other features. At least Obama has a relatively normal view of the world. The fact he traveled the world at a young age makes that possible. Unfortunately many Americans have an isolationist view of the world, its cultures and foreign nations in general. In the anonymity of these posts the thoughts of our contemporaries are exposed without filter. That’s not necessarily bad. At least it allows for some kind of a dialogue even if it’s not agreeable.

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

      Boaz, you are so right. There is not enough money to pay a Muslim to pretend to be a Christian.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  12. Mary h

    Mr.Billy, you can't unring the bell. Mormonism is a cult and everyone knows it. Because you decided to remove it from your goofy website will not change their cult status.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • myway

      Actually it does. It makes Graham as goofy as the cult he seems to have endorsed, possibly backed with a hefty donation to his cause. After all, most churches are capitalistic businesses where the almighty dollar has more pull than the Almighty.

      October 17, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  13. Casey

    One in five people in this nation have no religion. This is exactly why...EVANGELISM is a business that has strayed from the HEAVENLY FATHERS business, to greed and self promotion. I no longer have a religion, however, I do believe in God and Jesus Christ who died for OUR sins to redeem us.

    I challenge BGEA to give us the reason for their change of heart on Mormonism as a cult. Personally, all religions have disappointed the LORD, and have no business judging one another in the first place.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • gosh

      I'd think you would still be in the group of the"other" Christians that havent identified with a "known" sect...
      'Blessed are the cheesemakers I know that they are pseudonyms....or names the church just made up...especially John.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  14. mbapul

    funny is that, Jesus did not want anything to do with politics and even rejected the idea of kingship. How about Jesus sitting down with Pilot or Herod for tea and cookies. How about him praying with Cesar at the palace in Rome.. Nothing more offensive I say ... Someone that says spreads Gospel but goes totally against Jesus's Teachings. "you are not part of this world"... Him and his son are old enough to know what true christian neutrality stand for.. even if your life depended on it..

    October 17, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  15. Reality

    The Grahams should first apologize for ripping off their "non-profits" with their combined salaries of $1.2 million/yr. And they should also be sued for being con men selling "skunk oil" christianity.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • myway

      Why should he? He's living proof that churches are no different than other businesses, with greedy CEO's and elitist behavior. If they were serious about what they preach, you'd know it based on their lifestyle. Jet setting around the world with platinum AMEX cards in their wallets is making it clear that followers are being duped. If Jesus was alive today and told these bible hacks where it's at, they'd shun and ignore him. After all Jesus preached living a modest life basically in self prescribed poverty. I doubt this would sit well with 99% of evangelicals who prefer the almighty $$$ to the Almighty any day.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  16. Casey

    Wildone has it right – I think BGEA is denying their own beliefs for whatever purpose. My thought is that these TELevangelicals are terrified of losing their tax exempt status. Furthermore, in the old days, churchs took care of their congregations in hard times. Today, the Church leans on government to help the people. Truly, the Church itself has lost its way and is compromising its beliefs. NOT GOOD FOR ANY OF US BELIEVERS.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  17. TRUTH

    If you are a true disciple of CHRIST ? How can your spirutal teaching come from the book of mormon? The seed is the word of GOD which is JESUS CHRIST and JESUS did not authorize the book of mormon. QUOTE me on that with love. 2nd timothy chapter 2verse 15 workman that needth not be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth.

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

      I don't think jdesus wrote the Bible either... unless he was pretending to be Matt mark Luke and John...

      October 17, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      The gospels were not written by "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John". It is another christian fib.

      October 17, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It's the Biblical Trilogy –
      Part 1 – Smitey God of The Hebrews
      Part 2 – Son of Smitey
      Part 3 – American Jesus

      The sequels are never as entertaining as the originals.

      October 17, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  18. Sneaky Geek

    "As such, he never proselytized, targeted or labeled specific people, groups, faiths or denominations."

    umm... doesn't the 4th paragraph mention specific religions that he has labeled?

    October 17, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  19. Wildone

    Billy Graham's Evangelistic Association can disassociate itself from the truth that Mormonism is a cult all they want to support Romney, but I know the truth about Mormonism, Scientology, and the other "cults" that they themselves recently identified as such. The BGEA should be ashamed of themselves for denying their own beliefs in order to suck up to Mitt Romney.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  20. Too Much

    "Fall in line Billy....we gotta get this muslim out of the white house"

    October 17, 2012 at 7:49 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.