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.
Graham is colluding with powers and prinicpalities.
and Jesus said he and his followers would be no part of this world.
Some Jews do believe that. They are called Messianic Jews
"The times, they are a changing." No, they're not. Hypocrisy is as alive and well as it was in biblical times. If we, as so-called Christians, can't take a stand on what we believe and stick with it, we are no better than the Pharisees of old.
There is so much irony in this statement. It was THE PHARISEES who didn't see that it was the Messiah who can come to them. They rejected him. Today, it is so called Christians masquerading around as disciples of Christ but inwardly seek to destroy other people while hating them and calling them a cult.
Mormons have done nothing to offend. NOTHING! We practically let people hate us and only show love. We are disciples of Christ.
NEVER, NEVER, EVER adjust your Christianity for POLITICAL GAIN. This is just shameful!! SHAMEFUL
His opinion is irrelevant because they all belong to their own separate cults. Cults with large followings, mind you, but still cults.
LORD PLEASE HELP US NOW, BECAUSE WE NEED YOU IN A GREAT WAY. IN JESUS NAME! AMEN
We're sorry, the God you are trying reach is not currently available. Please get off your knees and try again later, or better yet – solve your own problems.
As little country churches all across America denounce the black President, and tell the congregation that it is their christian duty to vote for romney.
I find it odd that most evil originates in a place of worship.
It's very sad that this "religious" man at age 94 and shown himself to be dishonest and narrow minded.
"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." Really? Then you go and endorse Mitt??? What a hypocrite!!!!
you took my comment so i will just agree and say thanks
very well said – if I said it – I would of just said this is bull#$%@
Leave the old man alone and go complain about something more important.
a miracle of romney
It doesn't matter to me what is on Billy Graham's site... I am a relative of a survivor of one of the worst massacres in U.S. history. The LDS still has not taken responsibility for the role that they played in this, and I believe that it shows what kind of "religion" or " religious beliefs" that the LDS church has. If you want to find out more – google Mountain Meadows Massacre, Utah or read the book Mountain Meadows Massacre by Juanita Brooks – a Morman herself and a great book.
also "The Mormon Murders" by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith is a great read and a true story of greed, forgery, deceit and death, (from the cover) i couldn't make that up.
Brigham Young was such a moral, upstanding man, wasn't he?
Him stating that means that all Christian churches MUST BE TAXED.
He admitted that Christianity is just another Political Party, not a religion, and CERTAINLY not something that involves a Savior COMMANDING His followers to NOT JUDGE, PRAY IN SOLITUDE, AND TO TREAT YOUR SLAVES FAIRLY.
And by the way – you GOOD Christians out there, are you treating your slaves fairly? Remember to – because after you sell your daughters into slavery as the Bible allows you to, I'm sure you'll want their new owners to treat THEM fairly!
At 93 years old, it is more evident than ever that Mr. Graham has become weak and feeble minded. Sadly he has allowed his arrogant / clueless son "Franklin" to manipulate him into the political arena in this condition. I find it startling that all these years Graham has taught that Mormonism is a cult yet suddenly turns to embrace the religion. All this after a highly publicized and commercial visit with a presidential candidate of the party he supports. Its even more interesting to me that Obama has stated repeatedly that he is a born again christian and a follower of Jesus Christ yet Graham has completely ignored that fact. Mr Graham taught us that the bible commands we love all people regardless of race yet Mormons believe that blacks are the incarnated spirits of those people that turned against God as part of the insurrection . They were marked with black skin and born to Cain. The founder, the "prophet" Joseph Smith claims that God came down to him in the late 1920's and gave him stone tablets with instructions and then took them away from him. He has based his religion on the information in those stone tablets.. If you dont know that and you are basing your politics on religous beliefs, you might want to do a little research before you pull that ballot lever.
"...you might want to do a little research." Your comments are waaay off base. You could benefit from a little research of your own.
All birthers and baggers will be placed under house arrest until arrangements can be made to load them into box cars.
Mormons are no longer a cult on Billy's site the same way Nazis are no longer Christians who massacred (committed genocide on) Jews during World War II.
This story is just too funny and sad. Do you think any money changed hands? It's like Jews suddenly believing that Jesus is Savior.
I'm not interested in defining Mormonism as a cult or not. What interests me is that this move should come just a few weeks before the election in which a Mormon is running for president. That tells me that this is not a religious or philosophical move (as it pretends to be), it's really a political move aimed at helping the GOP. I wish it were an honest endorsement, as I find this dishonesty rather creepy.
Bill Graham and his group will burn in HELL!!!! for going against their own teaching
Amen to that! Goes to show how strong his faith in his religion is.
Let me translate Billy Grahams actual meaning in regards to this article. "I still believe any religion or belief outside of the Christian faith is a cult. However, now is the time to look past the biased we have with each other and really focus all our hate on the gays. I think we can join together our powers of bigotry for good this time. So, forget the fact that you wear magic underwear and I live my life according to a 2,000+ yr old book written by white men. Let's focus on what is really important; stopping tax paying American citizens from having rights that don't affect us."
Beautifully said! Thank you. I only wish that this country really practiced separation of church and state, and that discussions of religion never came up in the public arena. I don't give a &*^! about a candidate's religion; in fact, I wish that we would elect an atheist for a change.
well you are free to found an atheist party and run candidates. That is the meaning of the establishment clause. That there be no religious qualification for public office. So have at it.
I wish that we would elect an atheist for a change
I suspect there have been several. Just none that were open about it.
LDS is a CULT!!! Enough said...
All religions are cults. LDS is no different
No. That's not enough. We all want you to elaborate.
Jesus Christ teaches love, charity, kindness, a desire to follow His commandments, to love God and our fellowman. What else matters?
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.