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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. t3chn0ph0b3

    It's hilarious when Christians tell other Christians that they're not Christians.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • mk

      Even funnier when a religion calls another religion a 'cult'.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • XYZ

      It's even funnier when a cult calls another cult Christian, and they both laugh hysterically because they're in a psych ward on the fourth floor of a Lithuanian "hospital." The mood changes dramatically, though, when one breaks free of his straight jacket and the other is still restrained.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  2. The Dude

    Mormonism is a religion written by a randy 15 year old to get as much tail as possible.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • XYZ

      I'm pretty sure the guy's name was John, and he was 17. Get your facts straight.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • The Dude

      randy is an adjective in this sentence.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Huh?

      XYZ,

      I'm pretty sure that you don't know your XYZ from a hole in the ground...

      October 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  3. Joshua the Agnostic

    When Billy Graham dies so does the Southern Baptist Convention. They have massive churches filled with 35 people all over the age of 90.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • XYZ

      That's what they said about Jesus. (Except the part about the age.)

      October 17, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  4. meatplow

    It's still a cult. Always will be. I've been seeing A LOT of mormon commercials lately. I wonder why? They all say the same thing.
    " Hi! I'm a Mormon and I'm just like you! See? I'm not weird. I like to walk, hang out, and fly kites too!" Alright stop,...Kolob-erate and listen!
    What would people say if this man were a scientologist ? No difference .

    October 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • icanhazcheezeburger

      it's not the regular members that's the problem. most of them don't know what they're doing or how others are being affected by this nonsense. it's the people at the top. they're the ones knowingly manipulating followers. just like the jehovah's witnesses.

      anyone who doesn't think this is a cult has never talked to an ex-mormon and learned of how their family has stopped speaking to them and completely cut them off for no longer believing in the planet kolob

      October 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  5. Closet Atheist

    "A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith."

    And christian religions are not a cult...?? That's funny....

    October 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      isnt it though? i mean heck christianity started as nothing more than a personality cult, no difference between him and koresh.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  6. LMC219

    By defenition, all religions are basically a cult according to Websters:

    1: formal religious veneration : worship
    2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
    3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
    4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
    5a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
    b : the object of such devotion
    c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

    October 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Closet Atheist

      A lot of the crazy sh_t people do in the name of religion would get them locked up or committed to a mental hospital if not in the name of religion.

      When is this mental illness going to lose its socially acceptible status?

      October 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • XYZ

      Closet Athiest, you've been outed! But you're right. I was in Honduras several years ago, and I saw a little girl who was hungry. As a Christian, I bought her some food and sent her home with money for her family. Guess what? I got arrested! It seems like every time I do Christian service for anyone, I get arrested. Fortunately, I can come back to the US and behave in a similar fashion and not go to jail.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Fortunately, I can come back to the US and behave in a similar fashion and not go to jail."

      thats because the catholic church in the US hides it when a member hangs around little kids, giving them things.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  7. IAMPERFECT

    So Mormons is no longer a cult when the early books that were written by humans hands kinda remind you of the Taliban laws? Multiple Wife's? Promote Pedophile Marriages?

    Oh lets not forget the story about how dark skin people were created of the sinful souls that were supposed to go to hell?

    October 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  8. The Truth

    I had a client call me yesterday and say "I hope your not voting for that Obama guy, he makes me so angry every time I see his face on TV, with his big white teeth, and and, where was he born again?" I replied "Hawaii?" And she said "No! No! Before that!"...

    These people are such ignorant racists they don't even know what they believe, they just know they hate the black face on the TV. It's just so sad to see so many people in the late stages of dementia.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • mk

      Too funny, Truth.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • fintastic

      I've seen it first hand.

      The majority of the people I work with here in NC, can't stand the idea of a b*lack m*an in the White House. This is absolutely true. They could care less about either candidate's policies. The use of the "n" word and rac*ial j*okes are common here. They don't care who's running against Obama, as long as he's white, that's who they're voting for. Really a shame considering this is 2012.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • fintastic

      I should mention that I work in a semi rural area and live in one of the larger cities.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  9. The Dude

    I wonder how big of a check Romney had to write...

    October 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  10. Chuck

    I bet if they ask ole "Billy" what they just talked about 5 minutes later he wouldnt recall it. Why are these old coots and defenders of the middle ages still matter?

    October 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • JMysh

      Mr Graham still matters because you still matter Chuck.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  11. David Crosby

    Oh ..and Jesus has been dead ever since the Romans (inventors of The Cult of Christianity) killed him...

    October 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      That zombie infected them all once he was dead!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • fintastic

      BRAINS!!!!!!

      aghhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....

      October 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  12. Noah Pologies

    This should not be put in the Belief section. It should be in the Politics section.
    Billy Graham has sold out to politics...sorry to see that. He was the last evangelist that had a career and life (to this point) that drew the admiration of everyone, Baptist or not. Well, sorry, today that has been disrupted. I don't ask that he condemn the Mormon church, but to remove it from the cult list or to remove the cult list from his site is to put a blindfold over our eyes.
    No matter how you try to sway the people, we will continue to see the differences in our Bible and the Mormon's latest "scoop" from God. Sorry to see the Bible and Christ's teachings dissed in this way and by our previously? trusted and beloved Rev. Graham.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  13. lunchbreaker

    If I need to refresh myself on the definition of a cult, I consult the dictionary. Graham just makes up his own to support his agenda, how fun.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  14. The Jackdaw

    Just because there are more of them does not mean that they are any less of a cult.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  15. TheIncreaser

    Compromise his religious beliefs just to suit his political beliefs. I AS A PREACHER, PASTOR/TEACHER. LET ME BE VERY CLEAR THERE'RE MANY OF OUR LEADERS IN THE BODY OF CHRIST WILL SIN. MANY WILL CLOSE THEIR EYES TO THIS FALSE CULT – JUST FOR THE SAKE OF VOTING Republican. NOW LET ME BE CLEAR PRESIDENT OBAMA IS NO BETTER- LOOK AT IT THIS WAY ONE MAN REJECTS GOD – BECAUSE HIS TEACHING SAY YOU CAN BECOME A god. THE OTHER MAN JUST RIGHT OUT REJECTED GOD'S WORD ON THE MATTERS OF KILLING BABES/SO-CALLED GAY – MARRIAGE. BOTH HAS SINNED GREATLY BEFORE GOD.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • XYZ

      As SOMEONE WHO has MET SEVERAL PASTORS (and who has SLEPT at a holiday INN EXPRESS), I WANT TO thank YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO hit the CAPS LOCK

      October 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • mk

      Weren't babies slaughtered in the bible, orders of your god?

      October 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • sam stone

      Awfully pompous purporting to speak for god.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • sam stone

      The "so-called gay marriage thing" is about equal rights under the law. If you do not support equal rights, you are a bigot. Dress it up as you wish, hide it behind a bible if you wish, it's still bigotry

      October 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  16. mie evans

    Another example of Billy's racist beliefs and views. Gee, I wonder if Jesus is a republican?

    October 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • XYZ

      Jesus is neither Republican nor Democrat. You see, the Republicans wouldn't let him get a voter registration card because, as it turns out, he's not an American. Now, see, the Democrats WANT to allow Jesus to get a voter registration card because they know that even if Jesus votes Republican, scores of other illegal immigrants who need government support will vote Democrat.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  17. Mark H

    Learn about Christianity vs Mormonism. For a religion that is fundamentally about what you believe, you should know how and why Mormons are not Christians.

    http://www.ExposeRomney.com

    October 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • snowboarder

      the differences between christian denominations, such as baptist or mormon, is inconsequential.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • XYZ

      Dang it! If only the President had mentioned that valuable web site at the debate last night, this would be a different race. (I love the word "Expose." It's a favorite of us conspiracy theorists, right Mark?)

      October 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  18. David Crosby

    I wonder how many pieces of silver changed hands..?

    October 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • XYZ

      Precisely 30, but that's just our little secret. Don't let it get out.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  19. james gordon

    During the Bush administration ,Christians were asked to believe one lie after another and they did , Now Christians don't know what truth is , most are not christians they are republican, Now they are voting for a cu;t leader .

    October 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  20. iminim

    This is a good example of how religious organizations are willing to compromise their beliefs for political gain. I don't agree with Mr Graham's organization's assessment of Mormonism, but I am saddened that they would either 1) put ugly generalizations they didn't beieve on their website in the first place, or 2) decide that the beliefs they felt strong enough about to support them on their website could be so easily compromised in a play to gain & sustain earthly power.

    Separation of church & state maintains the integrity of both the church & the state. This is a prime example.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:09 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.