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.
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.
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.
"Did ye not know it is character which is judged and love is never a sin?" HoeMoeErectus 6:9
Such a huge pile of steaming waste.
The two of them deserve each other.
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.
There is NO antichrist because there is no christ... People need to get a grip.
Politics trumps religion, huh, Billy?
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?
"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.
Slippery bastards, though aren't they? With their ears pinned back they may just make it through the eye of the needle.
Okay, now that that's out of the way . . . . I don't understand what makes this worth reporting.
A visit by Tom Cruise is in order. Soft drinks and cookies with Billy Graham and you're in like Flynn.
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.
All religious sects and denominations are, by definition, cults.
They are all the same. What's convenient for serving the Money-Oligarchy, they're adaptable.
And besides, all Christianity is a bogus cult.
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.
Tell me a religion that ISN'T a cult.....
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!
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.
Boaz, you are so right. There is not enough money to pay a Muslim to pretend to be a Christian.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
I don't think jdesus wrote the Bible either... unless he was pretending to be Matt mark Luke and John...
The gospels were not written by "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John". It is another christian fib.
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.
"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?
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.
"Fall in line Billy....we gotta get this muslim out of the white house"
Too Much, is right! Love it!
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.