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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. James PDX

    First Billy publically calls Mormonism and several other religions cults. Then his spokesperson turns around and claims that Graham has "never proselytized, targeted or labeled specific people, groups, faiths or denominations." I've never heard a more obvious lie in my life. Not even from Mitt.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • southern guy

      Grahm felt he had no choice but to do this. God forbid Obama would get a second term, as far as Grahm is concerned – after all, women could potentially retain their rights to birth control, etc!

      October 17, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • James PDX

      Clearly Billy will lie in God's name if it will keep those nasty gays from getting married!

      October 17, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  2. Learn2read

    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 10:37 am |
    • dave

      Its about time someone brought this up. Ive been saying this same thing all along and its amazing how the media has ignored the flip side of this issue.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  3. Jim in PA

    Graham – "I will instantly change my religious beliefs for the sake of political gain."

    October 17, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • midwest rail

      And a large cash donation from the Super Pac of my choice...

      October 17, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • BPMar

      Amen! Graham has always been about using religion to attain money & power: politics determine his beliefs and his family's actions

      October 17, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  4. Pastor Ron A.

    Flip flopping and compromise has its place in politics but not in the Church . I was sorry to hear that Dr. Graham so late in life and in his ministry has chosen to give in the compromise. He is an icon in the Christian faith and it is sad to see his organization weaken and buckle under pressure. It is not easy to always hold your ground, but God has led and helped Dr. Graham through an awful lot over the years. I don't think God would withdraw HIs mighty hand now if BIlly chose to call a cult what it is !

    October 17, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • richunix

      Which GOD you talking about.....the GOD OF the PEN or the GOD RA, maybe the GOD ZEUS? Please we would love to know his name....

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      October 17, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • snowboarder

      ron – it undoubtedly had to do with money.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  5. richunix

    All religions are “cults”, just glad they see eye-to-eye.

    Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    October 17, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  6. JDonald

    By these actions, I have lost much of my faith in the Billy Graham Association in which part of my family is employed. I will no longer contribute to their ministries, especially that of Franklin's, since their theology stance appears to be maleable by the will of kooky kristians. Does Billy Graham and Franklin countenance addition revelation above and beyond that found in the bible for defining the Christain faith? If so, several other cults should be included in their embrace.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  7. albie

    Christianity is a cult

    October 17, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  8. Paul Wilson

    There is an unending debate over whether there are ~510 commandments,not just 10. This is based on the idea that Christ did not abrogate any of the Mosaic code, when He died on the cross. If he didn't, he accomplished NOTHING. I can't observe and obey all 510 commandments. Ten is hard enough.

    I refuse to observe Jewish days of obligation, food laws, dress laws, purity laws, etc.

    By the way, I served notice to the Witnesses that they are not to contact me again. I don't want their "mind prison". And the same goes for Mormonism, as well.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • James PDX

      Christ clearly stated that the Mosaic laws would remain in place until the end of time. Christians, however, choose to ignore that verse and think they are only responsible for the 10. But those 10 are still better than God could manage, since he repeatedly broke pretty much every one of them in the Old Testament.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  9. Fred8680

    This is the sort of stuff that made me an atheist. Keep it up. You will make more atheists.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • zufree2b

      The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • zufree2b

      Einstein!

      October 17, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  10. Seyedibar

    By the textbook definition, Billy Graham's religion is also a cult. All religions are cults.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      ignorant goon, ALLAH. AL, the, LA, law, H, Humanity, peaceful, law abiding ism of humanity.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Reality Checks

      @STOP

      R E A L L Y!!!! your are calling ALLAH, desert cult leader, a peaceful, law abiding ism of humanity?

      October 17, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • richunix

      Just checked…Naw..as far as history is concern Atheist haven’t started any religious wars? Of course everyone else has…..the plot thickens

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      October 17, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  11. George

    Billy sounds like a flip flopper too.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  12. lolo

    As if this will change my mind to vote for Romneyhood. The Republican party is so full of BS. Wake up people!!!!!!!!!!! Romney signed that pledge with Norquist and that is a clue that this man does not care about the middle class period. It is amazing how the GOP/TP party just lets him back track on everything that comes out of his mouth. This tells me that the only reason he is in play is because he is white and rich, because he does not have a clue about anything that is going on around him but the boardroom, nor does he understand anything about the middle class. The Grand Old Party cares about nothing but power and destroying America.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Paul Wilson

      Some years ago, I got a letter from the local chapter of the Republican party, asking me to change my voter registration to Republican, and sent a form to use in doing so. At first, I decided to ignore it, but then, deciding to nip any further attempts in the bud, wrote back and told them that the Republican party has never offered me candidates that represent MY views. In fact, they go out of their way to stamp on them. I never heard from them again, I still have the letter they sent ,and I still vote Democrat.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Whatever......

      Well said lolo but unfortunately, these folks live in an alternate universe where up is down, right is wrong....you get the picture. For instance...a union worker who's reaped the benefits of good wages, good health care, etc. voting for Romney and why? Someone told him that Obama is going to take away his guns. Never mind the facts that guns sales have gone through the roof since Obama's election. Long sigh..........

      October 17, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  13. manix

    What a hypocrisy.... Once you kiss Graham's ring finger, you are now accepted. Welcome to the family..

    October 17, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  14. Faithful Derp Derp

    Well if Billy Graham say's it's not a cult then by golly I believe it!! Cause' he's the authoritative embodiment of Christ himself! hee-yuk!! And here I thought Billy Graham was dead by now! Lord forgive me for thinking such blaphemous thoughts.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  15. george

    He who is not against me is for me ..Jesus ...with you Catholics are not Christians I bet ....you're a dunker too I bet

    October 17, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • zufree2b

      God lives on a planet near the star Kolob.
      Dark skin is a curse from God, the result of our sin, or the sin of our ancestors. If sufficiently righteous, a dark-skinned person will become light-skinned.
      The Garden of Eden was in Missouri. All humanity before the Great Flood lived in the western hemisphere. The Ark transported Noah and the other survivors to the eastern hemisphere.
      Not only will human beings be resurrected to eternal life, but also all animals – everything that has ever lived on earth – will be resurrected and dwell in heaven. T.Rex too?
      Just a few things! You can look up the rest.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  16. aCharlotteDad

    Just remember. God loves you! Unless you call him by the wrong name. Or use the wrong 2000 year old poorly translated book. Then you will burn in hell forever. Cause God's got a twisted revenge streak that makes Hitler look sweet! But God loves you. Just say your sorry for what Adam did in just the right way. Or pay up – big time.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  17. peick

    The difficulty with this entire debate is that the two sides have to define their terms. But it is in the definition that they can't agree. So if the Mormons call themselves Christians, they are correct according to their own definition of Christian. If Evangelicals say the Mormons are not Christians, they are correct according to their own definition of Christian.

    The two sides first must define what "Christian" means. How would you do that? You are back to theology. An area the two sides don't agree.

    I can't see this ever being resolved impartially.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • mk

      The difficulty with this entire debate is that there is no side that is rational because religion is irrational.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  18. palintwit

    All birthers and baggers will be placed under house arrest until arragements can be made to load them into box cars.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  19. Pastor Evans

    The spirit of compromise is a serious problem with those who claim the name of Jesus and as one of His followers. No wonder why there is so much compromise everywhere else because the Church is saying its OK, it's NOT!!!

    Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

    Pastor Evans

    October 17, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Primewonk

      Thank you for the random meaningless verse from your holybook. In the spirit of fairness, here are som random verses from my holybook, the Primewonk Bible. I happen to think that my random verses make a hell of a lot more sense than yours –

      ADVISORY: There is an Extremely Small but Nonzero Chance That, Through a Process Know as "Tunneling," This Post May Spontaneously Disappear from Its Present Location and Reappear at Any Random Place in the Universe, Including Your Neighbor's Domicile. God Will Not Be Responsible for Any Damages or Inconvenience That May Result.

      PUBLIC NOTICE AS REQUIRED BY LAW: Any Use of This Post, in Any Manner Whatsoever, Will Increase the Amount of Disorder in the Universe. Although No Liability Is Implied Herein, the Believer Is Warned That This Process Will Ultimately Lead to the Heat Death of the Universe.

      Einstein 16:24 Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

      Gould 1:15-16 Human consciousness arose but a minute before midnight on the geological clock. Yet we mayflies try to bend an ancient world to our purposes, ignorant perhaps of the messages buried in its long history. Let us hope that we are still in the early morning of our April day.

      Bohr 2:11 Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.

      Szilard 88:16 I'm all in favor of the democratic principle that one idiot is as good as one genius, but I draw the line when someone takes the next step and concludes that two idiots are better than one genius.

      Sagan 22:1 For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reàssuring.

      Feynman 110:55 …it doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are - if it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.

      Hawking 41:61 A machine that was powerful enough to accelerate particles to the grand unification energy would have to be as big as the Solar System-and would be unlikely to be funded in the present economic climate.

      Hippocrates 14:5 Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance.

      Galileo 12:16 It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved

      Carlyle 2:2 It is a mathematical fact that the casting of this pebble from my hand alters the centre of gravity of the universe.

      Fermi 1:1 The weak nuclear force does not change over time.

      Oliver Heaviside 62:3 Shall I refuse my dinner because I do not fully understand the process of digestion?

      C. P. Snow 5:3 Innocence about Science is the worst crime today.

      Paul Valéry 3:6 One had to be a Newton to notice that the moon is falling, when everyone sees that it doesn't fall.

      A.C. Doyle 14:8 It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.

      Clark 19:17 Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

      Roddenberry 68:12 We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.

      deGràsse Tyson 1:1 God is an ever receeding pocket of scientific ignorance.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • SH

      "Every building has it's builder, however God is the builder of ALL Things"! Hebrews 3:4 Thank you God!

      October 17, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  20. everyone jump in the clown car! wheeee!!!

    'my mormon faith is not a cult mr. graham, (half smile), but yours still is'
    'thanks for the vote sucker'

    October 17, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Brad

      Funniest reply ever. I'm laughing my a** off!

      October 17, 2012 at 10:10 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.