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. Billy Graham Sells Out

    Selling out to the almighty dollar now Rev. Graham?

    October 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • OvernOut

      It's not about the money; it's about the amount of money!

      October 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  2. mike

    Makes you wonder what has happened to Billy

    October 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  3. Be Sane

    Boy, talk about mixing religion and politics!

    October 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  4. jo an

    Who cares what Billy Graham thinks.....He is an abomination....Hypocrite...His son, Franklin...rakes in over ONE MILLION a year of his 'charities'....their GAY bashing takes them off my list of Christian...

    October 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Greg C.

      Love the sinner not the sin...Franklin is a fine and decent man and Samaritans Purse is a wonderful program that helps many in need.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  5. gladiatorgrl

    So every atheist is a cult leader for themselves? Because let's face it,in atheism you act as tho you are above God himself.All because of "logic and reason".They say not to worship a god yet they worship themselves as tho they are one.

    Lying hypocrites.
    Because you ASSUME people worship themselves??? Maybe you need to get over YOURSELF and any imaginary Gods

    October 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  6. Greg C.

    I'm not voting for a pastor, I'm voting for a leader. Romney foots that bill...Obama certainly doesn't.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • sam

      So you're looking for a leader who can't make up his mind about anything? Good luck, dude.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • EJ

      jim Jones was a pastor but he was also a leader. He lead hundreds to commit suicide. Just because a person proclaims they are a leader does not mean they are good for you. Mitt Romney is a lying heartless man, I suggest you follow his lead with extreme caution.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Netscanr

      There's a very real danger that if Romulney gets elected, the U.S. will soon be guided by the 'prophet' headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT. MOs are NOT allowed to think anything outside of what the church leaders say.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  7. bam

    so if my be liefs are di fferent u r ag ainst them? OH my bad u meant Your relig ious free doms not mine. I forgot how chris tians work.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  8. George

    The southern Christian whites will hold their noses and vote for a mormon over a black.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • needNewGov

      sad but true.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Greg C.

      Race baiting won't get you points...shows your ignorance

      October 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • jo an

      True they are more raciest than anti Mormon...they are both...

      October 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • fintastic

      That is the truth. They can't stand the idea of a black president. Nothing else matters.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Greg C.

      Spin on...you can try to race bait but it won't amount to a hill of beans...race has nothing to do with it...results do...this President is losing

      October 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • John

      Yep, so just the white people in the south are the only ones Biased? Thats weird, because as I recall in 2008, President Obama had 99% of the black vote. Coincidence? You decide. To me, I smell bias.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  9. the finisher

    So every atheist is a cult leader for themselves? Because let's face it,in atheism you act as tho you are above God himself.All because of "logic and reason".They say not to worship a god yet they worship themselves as tho they are one.

    Lying hypocrites.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • The Truth

      How can one be above something that does not exist? Are Clydesdale horses faster than Unicorns? Was Andre the Giant stronger than a Hill Giant?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • the finisher

      Out of the thousands of god(s) people believe or believed atheists pick one to bash and attack?

      Right and atheists are actually atheists...Hmm.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • snowboarder

      finisher – where do you get such ridiculous ideas?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • the finisher

      Where do atheists get their messed up ideas from?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • fintastic

      Another moron. ....Finisher, does mommy know you're using her computer?

      Atheist = no belief in god. Simple as that. try and get that through your pea brain.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • EC

      You need to do some research on Atheism, from an informed, non-biased source. Atheists don't worship themselves.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • OTOH

      the finisher,

      If/when the followers of Allah, or Thor or Quetzalcoatl or any other god tries to make laws, public policies, science and public education decisions according to their fantasies and superst'itions, I'll just bet that you will join us "atheists" in concert against them!

      October 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • the finisher

      So that's Christianity's fault?

      Do atheists have any logic at ALL?

      What an idiot..

      October 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • sam

      Doesn't anyone have a shoehorn to help finisher get his head out of his ass?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Dee

      Being an atheist does not make anyone a bad person any more than being a Christian makes anyone into a good person. It's how people treat other people that shows their true character. It's not what people say - it's what they do.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • Jeremy B.

      Let's turn this around. First of all, what you are saying has nothing to do with atheism. Which simply means: without belief in god or gods. Secondly, doesn't Christianity put YOU and all the believers at the center of everything? YOU were created in god's image, you are going to heaven, you are going to hell – it's about YOUR personal relationship with god/jesus. This puts YOU at the center. Seems very self-centered and self-important. The creator of the universe – can do anything, made sure that you are at the center of attention. The creator of EVERYTHING is all concerned about YOU. All about you - isn't that right there sport? Nevermind that there is zero evidence to back up your beliefs! But hey, let's just assume there is a god that could do everything, I mean this god CREATES the rules - it could have just created 'heaven' and just populated it with 'souls' and be done with it. No need for the material universe, suffering, hell, and all the hoops of fire one must jump through to get to this so-called 'heaven'. And that's GIVING you a big IF this god exists. Which, as I said earlier, has no evidence to back up the belief. Therefore, as I said in another post, the believer must fall back on faith. And with faith, ALL religions are believable, all cults are believable, everything is believable whether or not there is evidence. Which leaves Christianity or any other religion you choose to adhere to as an arbitrary choice in which to cling to and no more real or truthful than any other.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:29 am |
  10. DavidInNC

    I am a Christian, but am not a Mormon. I do know that those public messages that the Mormon Church has on TV are very Christian.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Bill M

      This how bad the Church leadership wants to replace a Christian, Obama. They now support baptizing dead people. Funny how many Evangelicals can't agree on Baptizing live people, let on dead Jews.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Greg C.

      Secular Humanism is really a group of people that are conflicted as evidenced by the fact that the premise of "no absolutes" is in itself an absolute...

      October 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  11. Iconoclast

    Any group that practices the supernatural with rituals is a CULT. This includes prayer, drinking "blessed" wine, "speaking in tongues", singing hymns on certain days, dancing with snakes, blessing water, metzitzah b'peh, eating "blessed" wafers, and other "magic".

    October 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • DavidInNC

      Boy, you must be lonely out on that limb by yourself.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • jo an

      Come hang out with the Unitarians...the most open minded, accepting, life celebrating group...no we are not lonely just because we don't 'buy' your religions...I finally got out of the Southern Baptist Church...and never felt so FREE...certainly NOT LONELY...

      October 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Greg C.

      Unitarians are secular humanists...in their world there are no absolutes...

      October 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • snowboarder

      greg – no absolutes? that sounds reasonable.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • SandyM

      I'm definitely not a typical Christian as I think we should show love to all – that is what Jesus did. He didn't involve himself in political issues at all. In fact, He said to pray for our leaders. All I hear Christians doing is slamming Obama. The only people Jesus had issues with were the religious leaders of that day. They were so busy pointing a finger at others that they couldn't see their own sins. Having said that, the Bible also says, "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the simple things of the world to confound those that are mighty." God gave man a choice – if he thinks what Jesus taught is ridiculous, he will be one of the ones that has been tripped up by the simplicity of the Gospel. But that doesn't change the fact that Jesus loved everyone and came to this world to show them the Father in the flesh.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  12. Flatlandr

    And.....a few more fibers on the rope break. Don't look down Billy boy! I dont believe in hell. But, you do. And you are going there.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  13. California Gary

    That's just amazing.......it's a cult one day, and not a cult the next day. Even the great Billy Graham just sold out.....I wonder if the Koch brothers just happened to make a big drop in the old collection plate.........ya think?

    October 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  14. Laverne

    Billy Graham is what almost a 100 years old and now all of a sudden because a Mormon is running for president, he done seen the light?? I guess stranger things have happened, but this is just another disingenious acts from the Grahams!

    October 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • bam

      the only light he sees is the sunlight coming through the hole in the bathroom door he drilled

      October 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  15. jj

    Actually Mormonism is a 19th century style Utopian organization.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  16. Jay

    Why isn't Billy Graham dead yet? I wish he'd hurry up and go play with Jesus in the clouds.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Brian

      That's a very distasteful thing to say about someone. You should be ashamed. I'm not a Christian, but I don't believe on wishing death on people who don't agree with me.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Joepub

      Aww, poor boy. What has Billy done to you to merit such hatred.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Suzannne in North Carolina

      Really don't think it's Billy creating the problems. It's his "problem child" Franklin who seems to be in control of things at the BGEA these days, along with running things at Samaritan's Purse - both organizations are as political as they come and Franklin is right in the midst of it - spending good folks' contributions on himself and his political beliefs.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  17. Don

    “Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.” Bertrand Russell

    Don't you love how Protestants are always fighting Mormons, Catholics fighting Protestants, or they all hate on baptists, or what have you.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Schmong

      Jews don't recognize Jesus Christ as the messiah. Protestants don't recognize the Pope as infallible. Mormons don't recognize each other in the liquor store.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • fintastic

      Great quote from Russell

      October 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  18. ohio voter

    yes–the entire joseph smith thing just sounds crazy to me. There was a week long special a couple
    years ago on PBS on mormonism. I know very nice people who are mormons but i have to admit i
    did find myself almost in disbelief how some could believe some of their doctrine. It struck me as
    very cultish. and still does. sorry–but can't help it nice as those i have met seem to be.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • BobG

      I agree but have you bothered to read the christian bible with a fresh mind? ,,, pretty crazy stuff there as well and like most religions.

      October 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • snowboarder

      ohio – you think mormons sound crazy but not christians? seriously?

      October 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  19. GV

    How expedient!

    October 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  20. FactsRBad

    All religions are cults. They tell their followers what to believe. Rules are meant to keep those in power from falling out of power (this would be men). Most are based upon children's fairy tales and assertions that have no basis in fact (parting the Red Sea, rising from the dead, virginal birth, etc.).

    So many different religions thinking they are the one true religion and theirs is the only true god – how arrogant.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
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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.