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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. indyreader

    A few weeks ago, Graham's site: M0rm0n1sm iz teh CULT!!!1!1
    Now: Oh, wait, one o' those dudes might achieve a position of power, and I might have to suck up to him? Forget what I said – Mormons are fine, upstanding people, not weird in any way, shape or form, and I lurrrve them (and theiRmoney,... er, their Mister Rmoney,... er, Romney), yes I do!

    Seriously – more magnanimity and companionability between religions is a good thing – much better than bombs – but when it so transparently comes not from the heart, but from the scheming political brain,... allow me to withhold my cheers.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  2. indyreader

    A few weeks ago, Graham's site: M0rm0n1sm iz teh CULT!!!1!1
    Now: Oh, wait, one o' those dudes might achieve a position of power, and I might have to suck up to him? Forget what I said – Mormons are fine, upstanding people, not weird in any way, shape or form, and I lurrrve them (and theiRmoney,... er, their Mister Rmoney,... er, Romney), yes I do!

    October 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  3. D.L. Kisting

    At least Romney isn't a Muslim. I truly believe that obama has ties to that "cult".

    October 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • ME II

      I would hope so. There are several million Muslim citizens in the US and as president he should feel that he has "ties" to them.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Satin

      Why does it matter if he was Muslim or not? Or if Romney is Mormon. Who cares. They could be athiest. These are DISTRACTIONS!!

      October 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  4. robCM

    Mormonism is still a CULT.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Mic

      Why is it a Cult?

      October 17, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Davis

      So is every religion under the sun.
      People just love to play the I'm right and you're wrong game.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Carl

      By definition, all religions are cults. Mormonism just takes it to the next level of stupid.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Mic

      What is the next level? Or do you know or do you just fallow the COMMON misconceptions because is is easier for you to fallow/believe in, no one. Who leads you, the whims of your hart/mind (witch can be miss-lead or miss-informed) or some direction straight and true to aim for goodness. Because the your whims come of, to me, as harsh and hate filled and comment of the supposed Christians that preach hate in miss direction, oh ya that is what Jesus taught Read the Bible!

      October 17, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  5. Please Consider This

    This is a very disappointing development. For those who care, please see the differences between Christianity and Mormonism here:
    http://www.religionfacts.com/mormonism/comparison.htm

    There are plenty of other sites which do similar comparisons, but I found this one to be the easiest to understand.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Please Consider This

      Sorry, one more:

      http://mormoninfo.org/files/tracts/Eng_Differences.pdf

      October 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Davis

      Consider the writers of religiousfacts and it blows all of thier site out of the water. Try again.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Mic

      Is funny all these sites listed in these do not even point to the LDS.org website for the true facts. Just list the ways they are different. but not what is the same. Funny

      October 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  6. Dano

    Franklin Graham has done something Jesus never did – compromised the truth for political gain. Franklin Graham is misleading so many people by removing the "cult" status of Mormonism and his other comments on whether Obama is a Christian. This is so hard for people who are lower income, who depend on government programs, unions etc. Romney's 47% now can't find a place to put their faith. Hard to be a Christian, when Christians hate you. Franklin Graham's sin is similiar to many statements about the poor and unjust judges in Isaiah. I guess that is why we need the Old Testament prophets – to remind us how God sees the poor – He values them as so important that He died for them. Graham is not of the same character.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  7. Mic

    Listen to all the hate in some of the previous comments. HATE, no compassion, no wish to speak intelligently, just Hate. Unbelievable, some of them speak of finding the truth but spout vial lies and the COMMON misconceptions of a religion that they obviously have no, I mean NO, idea what they are talking about. This is sad and truly disheartening. I feel sorry for all of those individuals and there blind hate of something they have no idea about. I, for one, forgive of your ignorance, peace be with you. Some of the more avid commenters will try to dispute this post and discredit my comments or even try to provoke me for a response but I find this type of action to very petty and pathetic. If you believe the hate filled comments of previous posts I suggest you do some research of "Fact Checking" your self, it might surprise you. Enough said, have a good day.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Mormon America

      I couldn't agree more. It is literal hate and not love. Jesus would be sorely dissapointed and I believe one day people will have to be accountable for the feelings of their heart

      October 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • GAW

      Yes some of the comments given here are not worded in the best possible way. However people have the right to disagree regardless of their ideology. Hate is hate but if you call those to disagree with a position haters then you have become intolerant of the right for people do disagree. That is a form of ideological totalitarianism.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Mic

      GAW, That is a valid comment but what you are missing is the fact that they don't share that philosophy nore have they expressed it. More or less, This is what I believe and if you don't believe this way you are wrong! I actually anticipated this type of comment, but hate is still hate. No matter how you try to cover it up it is still hate and what about compassion? Compassion is demonstrated in your comment in tying to explain this to me but what about all the other posts that you have not made this comment to. The miss guided information befoul and trample the beliefs of good honest people , as stated before, by the people who spot lies and the common misconceptions. I do not believe that I am perfect or mean to preach to any degree but how much hate redder-rec are the rest of the people going to take?

      October 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  8. philtration

    To be honest... all religions are cults.
    Magic is nothing more than an illusion and slight of hand designed to fool you into believing in something that did not or cannot happen.
    Combine that with fear and bigotry and you got yourself a religion.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      To be honest???????????? Are you tryin' somethin' new?

      October 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  9. sceptichound

    Well, well... looks like men-of-faith can be bought. "So let it be written, so let it be done."

    October 17, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      I think you received the wrong gospel. Men of faith were bought off the slave auctioning block by Jesus.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  10. stephen l. walkinshaw

    billy graham and son frank only care that who ever is president helps to put money in their pockets, thats all they have ever cared about. i guess the current one isn't fitting the bill, so to speak.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  11. northernCA

    wonder how much $$$$$$$$$$$$$ exchanged hands to get this shocking declaration from Graham and his money-cult of a family

    October 17, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  12. Let's let a KING preside over both the Mormons and the Evangelicals!

    October 17, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Mannix58

      Do these people smoke pot before going into the church or whatever it's called? It's no wonder atheism is gaining more popularity than any religion...these people are absolutely nuts!

      October 17, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  13. Mary

    I am soory to hear that Billy Graham encouraged by his son decided to get into the politics game... I have always admired who he is and what he stands for but to blatantly remove his comment about the Mormon faith not being a cult has left me with yet another one who will sacrifice his principals for an election... I would encourage him and his followers to read the book "The Kingdom of the Cults" and see what it is that the book of MORMON has to say about who Jesus is(was) as far as the "Smith" the founder of the Mormon church has to say about him... There is no way that they worship the same Jesus that evangelicals worship, so one more Stalwart of the Christian faith has succomed to political pressure...

    October 17, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Reality

      Putting it into 21st century perspective (only for the new members of this blog):

      The Apostles' Creed 2012 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (References used are available upon request.)

      October 17, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Texan

      Thanks Mary. Careful Christians, Satan is insidious in compromising our beliefs and our faith. Mormonism is a cult.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Davis

      Sorry Mary. One denomination or group cannot dictate what a cult is or whether it is Christian or not. Lest they can say you are a cult and not Christian yourself. All religions are cults by definition.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      the only difference between Christian and Mormon theology (which are both pure folklore) is that mormonism sprang out of masonic rites that tell the secret history of our nation. And there is some actual truth to their claims of ancient mediterraneans travelling to the new world. Jospehus recorded the belief in a star called Merica that some believed led to a promised land, and our nation is named after that star. But there is nothing in any of the history that proves involvement of magic and sorcery and gods and demons and leprechauns. Mormonism, like the religions of the Testaments, is nothing more than a history of man and his follies mixed with ancient fairy tales for entertainment.
      As for being a cult, yes all religions are a cult. If you believe in the supernatural and congregate with others, you are in a cult. You can't make up your own definition for words because you don't like the negative connotations.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • jo

      Mary: You're right on & I agree with ya 100%. All I can say to that is AMEN & AMEN.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • snowboarder

      seyed – america is not named after some star named merica. where did you get that nonsense?

      October 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • LinSea

      Think about what you are saying - have you honestly talked yourself into believing that there is more than one Jesus? There is only one Jesus Christ, and Mormons believe that He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and that it is only through Him and his love and sacrifice for us that we can be saved. If you have any desire to be honest or fair-minded, read the actual Book of Mormon to find out what it says about Jesus Christ, not some book written by a hater who twists and distorts what the Book of Mormon teaches.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      @snowboarder
      Until recently it was assumed that America was named for Amerigo Vespucci, an early mapmaker. However, recent findings show maps before his age showing the name La Merica given to the new world mass, the same name as the star from Mediterranean folklore. These findings are quite new and lacking somewhat in modern proof, but makes a much more coherent and evident theory of our country's origin than an obscure mapmaker.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Mic

      Look at all the places you can find a source that condemns and dictates your Mormon beliefs. Jesus had this kind of persecution when he was on the earth, and look what happened to him. Mormons believe in Christ. Mormons believe in Christ. what part of that doesn't make them Christians? Anyone, anyone? Any other reason, you are just making reasons for you not to even believe your own church teachings, unless your church teaches hate and religious persecution. Truth hurts right?

      I think anyone who thinks Mormons are a cult needs to attend a true christian church, not one that spouts evil or condemns religions. All this talk with its hate filled speech makes me want to learn more about it. Even Jesus helped Gentiles and what about the story about the Good Samaritan. Draw any knowledge from this story? Read this scriptures and pray. Get a clue.

      October 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  14. Reality

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals like the Grahams and atonement theology,

    October 17, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  15. Maeve

    Sad when folks, like the Grahams, who are supposed to have religious convictions reveal themselves as worshipers of fame before Christ. Franklin especially gives religion a bad name. But this article has revealed the Grahams for what they really are. When they abandon their "so called" belief that the the Mormons are evil (a ridiculous belief) just to get noticed by CNN and any other fool who wants to listen, they cheapen themselves and their money making message. I am a Christian, not a Graham family enterprise make a buck Christian. I hope that I will always accept everyones religious choices as I do now. Belief in a higher being is not an exclusive club affair. It may be trite but we all want to get to the same place in the end, and there are many routes to the same place. Sorry Graham enterprises, again, you look like fools.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Davis

      Sorry Maeve, you have revealed you and whatever religion or denomination you belong to as evil.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  16. cesar

    Funny this guy is a false prophet, I am not a religious person but during my life I did try to find a religion tried many, and the one verse I always remember is ( stay out of her my children) meaning stay out of the gov and not mix-it into your faith, the one religion that sticks to this are jehovah's witness. yet he calls it a cult. funny maybe he is a false prophet.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • justme

      cesar; you may want to give them another chance. they (JWs) are the only ones that can explain those scriptures and help you understand what the Bible really teaches.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • snowboarder

      cesar – the difference between a prophet and a mental patient is simply the gullibility of those that surround them.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  17. sunpacific

    That was convenient. "It's a cult! Oh, he's the nominee of our party. Now it's not a cult!"

    October 17, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Chelle

      Exactly – how very very convenient. I think they are all certifiable anyway, but this ranks right up there with the Mormons conveniently losing polygamy in order to gain Statehood.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  18. Tex71

    Isn't it nice to know Rev. Graham does not hesitate to compromise his long-held and much-touted religious beliefs if he can profit politically.

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

      and more importantly, monetarily !!

      October 17, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  19. snowboarder

    pragmatism trumps doctrine for the religious elite when power is at stake.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Mannix58

      It's a no wonder the religious cults ( all of them ) are dropping in massive numbers...they're self-righteous wing nuts.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  20. DD

    How conveeeenient! Talk about a Campaign Conversion. LOL!

    October 17, 2012 at 11:43 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.