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.
It's ironic that this organization endorsed a man that they believe belongs to a cult and deleted their beliefs based on not politicizing that decision. Yet, had no problems endorsing the hatred and politicizing of voting against gay marriage...about 6 months ago. If it is their belief that Mormonism is a cult....there is a commandment that covers that. Not on gay marriage, though. I definitely believe in separation of church and state and this has just solidified my beliefs.
And some fools say: "God bless America!", very sad indeed...
If the head is not in good shape, the whole body is not. thank-you. you will know the tree by the fruits he bear.their is only
one hope for man kind an other to be save (Jesus Christ}! the hope of all nations and healthy in all maners.
How obvious is it that politics now determines their religious view.
It's so sad that we have to compromise this issue just for the sake of this election. In the end, we as people of faith in Jesus Chris, has to stand firm to what we believe in. Our belief in Christ is so different from the Mormons belief. Putting a person in presidency with cult leaning belief is a dangerous proposition especially if the person changes positions often on many issues that affect us as Americans. I do pray that Billy Graham will stand firm that Mormonism is a cult and their belief in Jesus Christ is false for He is the Son of God, the savior of mankind.
the differences between mormons and other christian denominations are meaningless.
Jesus Chris, I used to party with him.
Phillip, that is an excellent analysis. Indeed, we can't change our Christian faith in order to make our vote feel better. Either Mormonism is a cult, or it isn't. Rev. Billy Graham has been an important tool of God though his life, but in his declining years, he is being manipulated. Christians need to stand fast against Mormonism and if someone tells you otherwise, they are not coming from the Spirit of God.
Phillip, you are right on...and I say that because I believe in the separation of church and state. If churches want to endorse or cow down to any candidate then their exception of paying taxes should be revoked.
Snowboarder: There is a huge difference between Christians and Mormons. For one, it's called adding an additional book to the inspired bible. How can you add the Book of Mormon into Christianity? The LDS has a history of wrong decisions. They can claim to be Christians, but that doesn't make them Christian.
So Philip, it sounds like you think a person's religious beliefs should have a bearing on if they should be elected or appointed to public office?
"Bill Graham has been an important tool...."
But, still a tool
Philip, Mormons DO believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. That is our most important belief.
And David, the Book of Mormon is not an addition to the Holy Bible. It is a book written by a separate group of people and its entire purpose is to testify of Jesus Christ and support the Bible's testimony and witness of Christ.
answer so is Jerimah Wrights church a cult? We will see how smart you are?
I say it's a cult. Am I Wright?
all churches are cults
Mormonism is a cult. It was a cult last year. It's a cult today. Not even Bill Graham can make it not a cult. This is silly. All is does is remind people that MORMONISM IS A CULT.
All Christianity is a cult.
Scream it from the mountain tops, Norwood! SCREAM IT!
How sad – but, we know Judgement Must Begin At The House Of God. I believe God is starting to clean house. Letting all see who is Real.
You said it! nice COMMENT
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
I wonder how much large the donation was from Romney?
My sources say it was very much large.
Matthew 24:24 - For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. 25 - For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God's chosen ones.
A great verse. Thank you James.
"god's chosen ones".....wow, how arrogant
"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. It is I, the great and powerful Oz!"
By definition Mormons are NOT Christians:
– Mormons have 3 books, Christians have 2
– Mormons believe God is a man from the planet Komos, Christians do not
– Mormons believe Jesus and Satan are brothers, Christians do not
– etc. etc. etc.
Romeny IS a high-priest in the Mormon church, which means he believes these things. Its pretty scary stuff.
Thank you for providing the definition of "Christian." Now I know it has something to do with the number of books and the planet Komos. I suppose Jesus provided this definition in the one book he used.
The work Christian means "christ follower". You can put whatever definition you want behind it of course, but if someone claims to follow or believe teachings of Jesus, then they are a Christian.
Technically even Atheists can be Christians. One can agree with and follow the core philosophy attributed to Jesus without believing in a divinity.
rynomite – jesus the philosopher. that is the first reasonable version of jesus i have ever heard.
If XYZ, Snowboarder and Rymonite do not want to be a Christian that is fine. God gives you free will to make that decision. However, who a Christian is isn't subject to what non-Christians say about it. The faith has been guided by God's Holy Spirit since the creation. The faith is defined by God and the earthly words of Jesus, not those who do not know God. Christians are called by and are subject to God's definitions, not wonks here on the internet. A Mormon saying that they are Christians doesn't change God's plan about what is needed to be a follower.
So um David. Nice of you to define who is and isn't Christian and presume to know "god's" plan.
So what are you?
Cause I'm pretty sure Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterianis, Congregationalists, Anabaptists, Brethren, Methodists, Pietists, Baptists, Apostolics, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Mormons, Adventists, Unitarians and a few hundred other sects define their "true" versions of Christianity quite differently. All presume to know their "god's" plan.
"However, who a Christian is isn't subject to what non-Christians say about it."
Should it be subject to what Christians say about it?
Republicans have RINOs, Christians should be able to have ChINOs.
They would certainly look dapper in their crisp, oxford shirts, loafers and tan pants. Thanks for the laugh.
Compromise his religious beliefs just to suit his political beliefs. This proves two things conclusively – Graham’s ministry is a sham without true conviction and Graham is only concerned with saving dollars not saving souls.
Good to know the bible isn't the ONLY words of God and Mormonism isn't a false prophet.:) Thanks Billy!
Shouldn't Billy's followers take this to mean at least a subtle endorsement of the Book of Mormon?
I think it's quite clear that pulling a web page that defines other religions as cults means Billy is explicitly and unequivically endorsing every single one of them, personally. I think we can all assume he has become Mormon or Jehovah's Witness or Unitarian or Scientologist. Conspiracies are all around us.
Hey you bunch of idiots...where about the Prez and jerimah ...he was in that church for 20 years and marry and baptized his kids there......he threw him under the bus when was time for him being prez. Now who sold the soul? Lets be fair people and think bout whats going on,
Obama backed away from Rev Wright because of some of the incendiary rhetoric that Wright had espoused, right or wrong, about how blacks have been maligned and beaten by white society in America for nearly 200 years of our history. Obama backed away from those comments because he didn't want to be associated with the "angry black man" in the room that makes the white ancestors of the slave owners uncomfortable and thus less likely to vote for a man with a sterling personal record but happens to have black skin. The biggest lie coming out of the red states is that this has nothing to do with race and yet I bet the word "uppity" has been on the tips of their tounges for years now as they seethe in their hidden racism.
Woe to scribes, Pharisees and Billy...
What arrogance .Millionaire Gantry/Swaggart types kowtowing to place themselves in a position to gain influence.
So in other words...nothing new.
The decision was pure politics. Billy and his followers can't be seen supporting the GOP candidate if he is a member of a cult, can they?
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.