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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. Roy

    You list Jehovahs Witnesses as a cult. First I really question how many really understand the history of cultism. Secondly JW's follow the teachings of the First Century Christians, which for the record is true Christianity. Third after true Christianity was beaten down because of apostasy and false teachings, read your history from the period of Constantine 300C.E to 400C.E onward the true faith went into the dark ages which festered and matured numerous religions that teach numerous non bibical doctrines. The emergence of the Catholic church and many others came from the dark ages, get the hint people. Jehovahs Witnesses are the only group in the world today that teach, preach, instruct, educate people accurately from the Bible, that is True Christianity folks. Furthermore the Watchtower magazine is most widely distributed magazine in the world that is all Bible based, many of you should take some time to read it carefully instead of critizing it you just might learn something. Jehovahs Witnesses proclaim Gods real name "Jehovah" that is true christianity folks. Jehovahs Witnesses are the only that is following the footsteps of Christ Jesus to preach and teach the good news of Gods kingdom throughout the entire earth, then the end will come. Read Matt 24:14 No organization in the world is fulfilling that commission as instructed by the Christ 2500 years. One more point, yes we are living in the time of end, yes we are preaching the good news of Gods government that will replace all manmade governments, yes the Bible promising peace, happiness, perfection and everlasting life, yes Jehovahs Witnesses represent the true God, the Almighty, Jehovah who designed and created this beautiful earth and the universe, yes we are the only organization in world that defends the true God and his promises and we are the only organization that speaks the truth, yes the Bible predicts we will be hated, disliked, ridiculed, persecuted, criticized, mocked just like the Christ was and his disciples and ancient prophets of old, yes we are growing rapidly because under Jehovahs divine direction, his holy spirit we have expanded the good news of his kingdom in every corner of the earth and will continue without fail until Jehovahs time comes to destroy those who refuse to accept and acknowledge the truth, its in your Bible read it. Yes being, doing, agreeing, worshipping, practicing what is good is hard for many, in fact being a true Chrisitian in this world influenced by Satan and his wicked forces is a challege for many. But what would you rather have, peace of mind that you have followed Gods word the way it should be followed or tgo the way of this world which offers nothing but temporary pleasure that will all fade away or experience everlasting life, perfection here on this earth as it was orginally intended by God. The promise is real, the Bible is real, Jehovah is real and his people are real. The Bible is not a cult, the Bible's Theme is Gods Kingdom, how many of you really know that. For those who respond to these comments critically, I hope that your mind, heart, conscience and soul will take the time to read and meditate the goodness of Gods word and learn from it.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • midwest rail

      " we are the only organization that speaks the truth. " Um, no.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Rob

      Just one issue out of many that shows that JW is a cult is the facts about all the false prophesies that Jesus is coming back on this day or that day over and over and when he did not appear the last time, it was said by the Watchtower society that he came back invisibly the last time. Besides the fact that essential tenets of the Christian faith are not believed by the JW's such as the bodily Resurrection of Christ and that Jesus is God incarnate and not just a prophet are further proofs that this is a cult. There are many others too, but here is just a snack.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • mk

      Well....if YOU say your religion is the true religion, then I believe YOU. Gag.

      The only reason your religion may be growing is that you're spending a lot of resources translating the bible for those in third world countries and handing them out as "God loves you" (despite the fact that their families are starving). The only reason the Watchtower magazine would be the most distributed is because you minions dump them on our doorsteps. You can distribute all the literature you want and claim it all you want, still doesn't make it the "one, true" religion. There is no such thing.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Amhlair

      "we are the only organization that speaks the truth" = cult by definition.

      JWs = cult
      LDS = cult
      Scientology = cult

      Relish and indulge in your uniqueness, just don't try to you-know-what on our legs and tell us it's raining ;-)

      October 17, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Roy

      To midwest rail, mk and Rob thank you for your comments and I do appreciate your views. When you get the opportunity address your points of concern at a local Kingdom Hall of Jehovahs Witnesses, you will be pleasantly surprised how much interest we have as to the feelings and concerns of others. As mentioned we base all evidence on the scriptures and the local witnesses in your area will be more than glad to talk further. Again thank you

      October 17, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Rob

      lol...I think that the local Kingdom Hall has a do not approach order for my house Roy as I often send back confused and questioning witnesses as I try to make them understand what they are actually saying rather than what the Kingdom Hall tells them.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  2. earl

    to George and No Tags: Your idol, Pres. Obama, could match Romney in
    flip-flops any day! And this has been proven on national t.v. shows. He
    also is currently being charged as a :liar." Yet, his worshippers will still
    follow him to the bitter economic end. And how has he proven to be a
    better more dedicated Christian than those poor Mormon "cultists?"

    October 17, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • gappbaaz

      So you do agree that Romney flip-flops... etch-a-sketch anyone ?

      October 17, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  3. Thetruth

    The truth and those who seek it will open the doors of heaven, a joyous life. Gossip, lies, misinformation misrepresentation, anger, and vicious comments will only lead those into a dark, sorrowful, lonely path to hollow desperation .
    Don't speak of what you are not certain, most of your facts are plain vain and wrong, and if what you are certain is to bad-talk against your brothers then it becomes wrong all together. Being right never goes above doing the right thing.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  4. Kathy Mills

    So typical of Billy Graham and his organization. Poitics as usual. Why change what you said you believed? Mormoms are a cult group, period. Why has the media failed to follow up on the real reason that Mitt Romney"s grandfather was in Mexico? Was it because he and the other cult members were running form the US Federal government for the murder of men, women and children? Check it out!

    October 17, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • TimW

      Yeah, so I checked it out. The answer to your question is no. Hope that helps.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  5. earl

    According to a newspaper article in my files, Pope Benedict XVI has declared any and all
    religions that have broken off from the Catholic faith, "cults." So it seems that the "pot is
    calling the kettle black" when people so easily identify the Mormons as a cult. Many of
    modern Christian teachings disagree with the Bible such as Trinity and baptism by sprinkling
    or pouring and original sin and others. Many credible scholars have shown adequately that
    Greek philosophy has crept in to mix with Christian scripture and doctrine. Even the idea
    of "saved by grace alone" is contradicted in Matt. 24. Let's quit casting stones at any religion
    that does not agree with our private version of the truth. Only God is omniscient!

    October 17, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  6. Sue

    When in your power, you do what you have to to live at peace with all men. Pointing fingers and calling names only builds walls and not bridges. Right now, we need unity for the good of the country, not division. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

    I applaud what they did. It was wise.

    I am sure that few wanted to see Schindler's ecclesiastical / religious qualifications or doctrinal beliefs before they allowed him to save their lives.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Jay

      Yay! A cult-leader says another cult is not a cult. Nice!

      October 17, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  7. Greg

    Vote Mormon!

    October 17, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  8. Amhlair

    Mormons believe "What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing...Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God." This from their third 'prophet' John Taylor. He also said, "What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast."

    Bet they didn't change a thing after that meeting. So much for 'bridge building'.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • charles

      In defense of John Taylor, Mr. Graham is evidence the message is changing. Ignorance from modern Christian sects is that Mormons are not Christian which is the knife in the back we have lived with for over 180 years.
      Protestants have forgotten during the "age of Protest" against the monolithic Christian religion of the time (Catholicism) touted all dissenting voices as "heretic" and therefore were non-Christian. It took a leave of absence by the early Protestants to obtain religious freedom in America, why would this claim be any different for "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints" (aka Mormon church).

      October 17, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Amhlair

      If there's been a knife in your back, you all put it there. How do you think a Christian feels when they read this comment, ""The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church, is the great corrupt, ecclesiastical power, represented by great Babylon..." This from Mormon ‘apostle’ Orson Hyde. He also said, "And any person who shall be so wicked as to receive a holy ordinance of the gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent of the unholy and impious act."

      Who is insulting and attacking whom? The entire history of Mormonism begins with your Jesus telling the world that Christianity is corrupt and that all their teachings are an abomination to God. You send thousands of young (and some old) missionaries out to tell Christians that there church is wrong and that they must leave their church and be baptized a Mormon to please God. They teach that their marriages are not recognized by God because they weren't done in a Mormon temple. So, please, spare me the 'knife in the back' crocodile tears.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • TimW

      I'm sorry your feelings were hurt.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  9. Cynicrat

    Ah, the influence of money. How quaint.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • charles

      Or? The influence of God.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  10. Greg

    This is another example that for the fundamentalist Christian churches political correctness will trump religious principles

    October 17, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  11. amo

    I used to admire Billy Graham, I mean alot, but now not so much. He is wrong Mormons are a cult. For him to change his mind on this is just for political rasons and wrong on s many levels.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Sue

      He didn't say they were not a cult, he just pulled down the reference to avoid creating unnecessary focus on it right now. A wise man knows how and when to pick his battles. Life is longer than a 30 minute TV show, and foresight is a treasure.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • charles

      Naww, Mr Graham is right. We love and teach the Savior's teachings and worship Him ( I'm a Christian who is Mormon)

      October 17, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • NickZadick

      All organised religions are cults! what's your point?

      October 17, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Todd

      I have to really say you know nothing about the moron's. As for me i am what you call a jack mormon i smoke and swear i don't go to church but i can say as being a mormon you go to chruch listen to the sermons go to a class learns differant scriptures. in a christian church you go to church listen to the sermon and learn scriptures so how do you figure mormons are a cult. And if you knew anything about the mormons you would know how much the donate to every walk of life. i know familys that are not mormons and the church helps them with food, paying the rent and utilitys, i know that the catolic church at one time was being remodeled and the mormons offered on of there chapels to them so you should really do more home work on the mormons. and remember there is always someone who will have a bad expeniance with something and bad mouth them now what or who. (Sorry for my spelling)

      October 17, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Jes

      That's not what he said or did. Read it again.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Rob

      I love how Joseph Smith claimed that all the Christian churches were an abomination unto God and here they are wanting to be called Christian? Seems to be a very major breach of the precepts of the founder/prophet of the Mormon church. In addition, since when does polytheism come anywhere near close to orthodoxy in the Christian Church? All semantics aside, they do not believe in One God, they believe in 3 distinct gods of this planet, that there are planets all over the universe being celestially reproduced by other gods....and the various wives each god has...that we will become gods one day as god was once a man...sorry ladies, you can only be a godess if you please your celestial husband and he calls you up. You have no power at all nor any choice in the deification of mankind. BTW, you cannot be a Christian who is a Mormon....how can anyone be monotheistic and polytheistic at the same time? How can you trust a god who changes his mind on issues like polygamy when threatened by the US government? If Joseph Smith was given an everlasting message from their god that they shall commit polygamy, why did Brigham Young get an everlasting proclamation from that same god saying that they shall not commit polygamy? Seems to be their god is a little confused as to the definition of everlasting to everlasting.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  12. IT IS ALL GOOD AND GOD IS AT THE END

    A lawyer asked Jesus how to find salvation. His answer, " Love God and Love mankind." I think this is good advice for all of us to follow. God is love,Billy Graham is a great man but he is following the correct answer.

    This is a great country you can think God is like the wizard of Oz...you are free to think what you wish.Mormons follow the advice from the aforementioned.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  13. gappbaaz

    These guys Grahams, Romneys and Republicans shame even chameleons in changing colors. Lincoln !!!(holding my chest a la Fred Sanford) I am coming !!!

    October 17, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  14. Oh, Billy.

    I pitty the fool that can't see beyond the constraints of a book and accept that love and compassion infuse beauty into all things in this world; and that singularity breeds hatred and divide.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  15. Lylith French

    Cookies and soft drinks? Not! Romney has never had a coca-cola, cup of coffee or glass of tea. No caffeine for the LDS!

    October 17, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Um...

      Yes! Because all soft drinks have caffeine! All of them!!!

      October 17, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Gail Martens

      I feel I must correct you regarding this often misunderstood aspect of the Word of Wisdom. It refers to "hot drinks" which has been decreed to be coffee and tea. It is not caffeine that is the issue. Many Latter-day Saints drink caffeinated beverages and many do not. It is a personal choice that does NOT go against the teachings of the church. Hot chocolate and cocoa are also okay. I am a practicing Latter-day Saint just so you know.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • gf

      Gail Martens,

      Let me see if I understand you. Hot drinks, like coffee and tea, are a problem for Mormons, unless it's a hot drink like hot chocolate. The problem then must be with the coffee bean or tea leaf? The cocoa bean is therefore okay if used in a drink? They all have caffeine, so that can’t be the problem. And even as you said, caffeine isn’t the problem??

      So my question – why is the cocoa bean permissible? Is it some inherent property it has? The coffee bean and cocoa bean are both grown in tropical areas, so that’s not it. Maybe it’s how they’re harvested?

      October 17, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • gf

      Gail Martens,

      It also seems to merely be a product of the time. When the Word of Wisdom was given to Joseph Smith, people around drank coffee and tea ... not caffeinated soda, and probably not hot chocolate. So it seems a technicality to base that stance on what Joseph did, when to be true to the wisdom, you should look at why not those drinks and then apply that same rule to other similar drinks (ie, hot drinks with caffeine, or any caffeinated drink). I hope you haven't been breaking the intent of that rule. And I would never argue that "just because others do it, it's ok". Careful there.

      Maybe if Mormons drink decaffeinated ice coffee, that would be ok?

      October 17, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Amhlair

      You must not have been to church lately. The LDS leaders just got the ok from their god to have cola drinks. It's another of the many changes that come along as the Mormons try to become more mainstream, fooling the world that they're just regularly joes and janes. Once you join, you find out all the really weird stuff.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  16. lisalovescorey

    I am saddened by this. If Rev. Graham truly felt that he had been in error for labeling Mormonism a "cult", it sure is a conicidence that it was removed right before election time. So disappointed in hearing this.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  17. BPMar

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

    He preached. And was paid well for it. He seldom acted on his faith other than to talk, talk, talk and talk some more (in between gladhanding every powerful politician he could get his hands on). Dude always creeped me out.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  18. Cliff

    2 things: First, I wish they would stop putting words in Ol' Billy's mouth. Second, Mormon religion may not be a cult, but it is not Christianity, or even mono theistic. I really wish the media would discuss it more. If republicans looked into what the LDS believes the voter landscape would look completely different

    October 17, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  19. Jenny

    Rev. Graham is known to be a man of God that people could come to and receive Christian guidance, he is not known to play sides or engage in politics. His son, Franklin... is a different story. I would be willing to bet that he is the force behind the Graham empire now.. he is the one making the decisions... I am not totally confident that his father knows much of anything that Little Franklin has been up to.... nor would he approve.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  20. George

    Billy? So did Romney teach you all about flip flopping at that meeting? This is just so funny !!!

    October 17, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • NoTags

      Billy Graham got to close to Romney and the 'flip-flop' syndrome rubbed off on him.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:59 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.