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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. waitasec

    i can't stop laughing.

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

    The picture reminds me of a picture of Ayatollah Khomeini with the Majlis and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  3. smithdp

    Yeah ,graham threw his support behind Bush too. Wonder how that turned out.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  4. dave

    Yea. perhaps you're right this religious stuff is all wacky. We need a new religion. I propose our new religion should be Capitalism. It contains the ingredient of magic. The free market forces will insure equality.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • myway

      And the promised land is the Kingdom of TAD (the American Dream).

      October 17, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  5. Primewonk

    Could any of the fundiot nutters on here arguing about not electing Romney because he is a mormon, take a minute and explain to us what Article VI, Section 3 of the US Constîtution means?

    What is it with this bizarre need you nutters have to see which political candidate can "out Jesus" the other?

    October 17, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  6. B

    I find it funny how some Christians call Mormonism a cult. They're all equally made-up bologna. Religions are invented by man because of man's insecurity in this world. Religion comforts man, but it's just a fantasy. You believe because you were told to believe it by your parents or preacher. Having a bunch of other people who also believe it makes you feel good. There is no god, and no son thereof. There is no heaven or hell. It's all made up. But if it makes you feel good, then enjoy. Just keep it out of government, public schools, and my face.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • vonn

      Don't worry you live the way you THINK you should.. But I have seen ones like you on the death bed and how fast they want to change... Not a pretty site..

      October 17, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Ilya Fedotov

      I find it funny that you are attacking religion with religious statements. Most of what you said are not proven facts but statements of belief. My fellow human, realize that you yourself have a religion and here you are "shoving" it in my face. The point is you or I can not avoid it.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  7. lindaluttrell

    Billy Graham said it...therefore, it must be true...

    October 17, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  8. brian

    in the photo Billy doesn't look like he knows what planet he's on, and this is all being done by his son!!!!!!!!

    October 17, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  9. Tom

    Mormonism's listing as a cult on their website should never have been removed. Mormonism's beliefs are clearly not Christian beliefs. Mormons believe that lucifer is Jesus' brother when in fact a true worshipper of Jesus Christ understands that Jesus was never created but existed eternally with the Father as is stated in John 1:1. lucifer is a created being, Jesus has always existed. There are so many other differences but this one shows that they do not believe that Jesus Christ is the one true God, therefore they are not Christians. I am surprised and disappointed at this ministry for not contending for the faith. No political election or office can frustrate God's plans. It would be simple enough to not endorse either candidate and therby give glory to God. Whatever happened to Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." ? Billy Graham's ministries have spoken the truth for a long time, but it seems that they are compromising the truth. There are really only two types of faith: 1) There is Christianity that believes that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father and 2) there is every other type of religion which is false.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • snowboarder

      tom – like any of that is actually relevant to anything in reality.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • aCharlotteDad

      Just remember God loves you know matter who you are. Unless you don't call him the right name. Then you can burn in hell for eternity. Cause God's sick like that! He meaner than Hitler! God's gonna make em all burn! Make em pay! Ain't that right Tom?

      October 17, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • yomi

      Thanks for your input. You make it plain. You know the WORD

      October 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  10. Demetris

    Does the Bible change because Billy Graham changes his position on an issue? No. Both conservatives and liberals deny a faith in God when they stray from Biblical teaching to accomplish political agendas. Mr. Graham has lost all credibility by advising his followers to vote for president on a Biblical view of marriage when this veiled endorsement of Romney would result in the election of someone whose religious teachings are squarely incompatible with traditional Christianity. As a Christian, I am wrestling with the many competing non-Christian values embraced by both major parties and will simply vote my own conscious. Because everyone seems to have an agenda, no politician or religious leader is competent to direct any else's candidate selection.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Rynomite

      "Mr. Graham has lost all credibility"

      Preachers only have credibility with the deluded. They have never had credibility with the rational.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  11. three clowns now, not two

    Now the evangelicals can breathe a HUGE sigh of relief, because if billy and frankie can be spared from HELL for culting their faith, then so can they.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  12. susan porretta

    Phew, don't know about the rest of you, but I feel 100% better now that Billy Graham doesn't consider Mormonism a cult!. Now maybe I can finally get some sleep at night.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  13. Amazing

    Even the elect (people like Billy Graham) will be deceived. Matthew 24:24

    Mormonism IS a cult.

    In Revelation 22:18-19 The bible gives a specific warning about adding and taking away the words of the prophecy of this book.

    Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormon church) is a false prophet. He added and took away what he believed belonged in his version of the bible, and it has decieved millions thru the years.

    When you have a book that believes Jesus and Lucifer are brothers, that should be your first clue that the Mormons are a cult and are extremely deceiving.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • mk

      "He added and took away what he believed belonged in his version of the bible..."

      Right, because the bible hasn't had parts omitted, been edited, re-written or misconstrued by anyone else.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Mennoknight

      Mormonism is a great deceiver by saying they believe one thing to Christians and then in reality believe a totally different thing when they are alone in their temple.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • fred

      Typical of Billy Graham to sell out a fellow Christian (Obama) in favor of a Morman.

      Did Mitt promise to make a contibution to some charity, church, or person?

      October 17, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • AM

      In reply to Demetris: The "Elect"? Since when did God give you the right to detemine who is elect or not? Give me a scripture for that. Only GOD knows the heart... don't deceive yourself into thinking that you can do that.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • three clowns now, not two

      you sound just like two preachers i once knew, hmmmm, i forgot what their names are.... hmmmmm

      October 17, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  14. john2655

    Mormonism was a cult before and still is a cult. get real people!!

    October 17, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Rynomite

      All religion is a cult.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Ztom

      I've done a bit of research over the years on the differences between cults and religions. Most of the "differences" I've seen are very subjective. Many characteristics of cults can be arguably applied to many religions, and vice versa.

      The main characteristic that can be used to separate the two is if the religion/cult follows a God (or gods) or supreme being(s) that are not living human beings, it is a religion. If it follows a human being, it is a cult. Using this metric, one could argue that Mormonism is a religion because as far as I can tell, they pray to a god. Scientology has no god, but is based on the idea of space aliens controlling human existence. Therefore a cult.

      This is not saying that one "religion" or another is true or false. You have to decide that on your own. You can say that you think Mormonism is 100% wrong. But I believe it actually is a religion by definition.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  15. Cheeryble

    "from his mountaintop retreat".....wow not a bad business he runs.

    .Seems BG thinks himself the arbiter of what the bible says, rather like priests were the only one,s allowed to read, and interpret as they chose, the bible for centuries.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  16. DandyStryker

    Meanwhile, the Mormon Church still says that Graham (and all the other religions) are an abomination before god, and part of the church of the devil. Seriously. Here are the links to the official Internet site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon):

    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/1-ne/14.10?lang=eng#9

    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/js-h/1.19?lang=eng#18

    October 17, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  17. Mike McGuire

    Hilarious. Graham also endorsed Nixon. Graham also allegedly shared Nixons antisemetic beliefs. Graham is no better than pat robertson or Fallwell that say they are Christians but seem to have hate or intolerance in their hearts. In their deeds, Christ is a stranger to them.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      Billy's connection to Nixon, invalidated his credibility in the 1970's.

      He probably was too unknown to be soulmates with senator joe McCarthy. But just as nut.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  18. Hearmenow

    This is telling. Rev. Graham is showing us his real priority - erasing decades of evangelism and replacing it with a political agenda. I hope that this is actually just bitter Franklin Graham speaking on behalf of his father.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • brian

      therein LIES THE TRUTH the Billy I listened to never would have done this, this is FRANKIE

      October 17, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • rajb

      Truth be told it was always political for Graham.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  19. three clowns now, not two

    Oh sorry, I now change my opinion, mormonism is no longer a cult.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Orwell prefers Guyana punch

      It is not an opinion, it is divine word of God.
      Get with the program

      October 17, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Seyedibar

      gods are not real. your religion is a useless joke.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  20. Rynomite

    So what's the over/under for the timeframe when Mormons get relisted as a cult after Romney loses?

    I give it a week.

    October 17, 2012 at 9:28 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.